Five Things to Consider When Selecting your RFID Solutions Partner

The Selection of an appropriate RFID solutions partner is a key consideration for any organization planning to deploy RFID. While there are a number of leading solution providers, reputation alone is not the only factor which should be considered when making this choice. A lot depends on the project approach adopted by the solutions provider. Following are some key factors to consider.

  1. If the business hasn’t already carried out a comprehensive requirements study to validate the choice of RFID, this should be the first task of the consultant or the RFID solutions provider. A previous post highlighted some of the factors to be considered when deciding whether RFID is for you. A comprehensive study should establish the current as well as the future needs of the business which needs to be fulfilled with RFID.
    • Identify the data types and frequency at which such data needs to be captured
    • How and where would this data be stored?
    • Who are the consumers of this data and how will it be shared?
  2. If the requirements study phase establishes a clear need for the business to deploy RFID, it is advisable that the solutions provider initiate a Proof of Concept (PoC) study. The objective of this study is to test key technology decisions and assumptions to ensure the achievement of all the critical success criteria prior to a full-scale roll out.
    • Environmental factors tend to significantly impact the design decisions of RFID systems. The presence of metal surfaces, aqueous liquids and other factors which contribute to a ‘noisy environment’ may adversely impact the readability of RFID tags. These need to be extensively investigated in the solution architecture & design by the solutions team.
    • Different combinations of readers, antennas and tags are extensively tested by the solutions team to identify the optimal combinations and configurations suited for the specific business needs. A well planned and executed proof of concept study is invaluable to make the right technology choices and ensure the right solution.
    • RFID solution experts with the right skills and relevant past experience in implementing real world solutions will consider all of the above and any other factors which might impact the ultimate success of the project.
    • Finally, all the key findings from PoC study should be collected and presented to key stakeholders to create alignment prior to full-scale deployment.
  3. Upon securing the approval to move forward, many of the purchase decisions need to be made. An RFID solutions partner with the right global partnerships can source the equipment and components and also expedite the installation of the RFID infrastructure minimizing impact on ongoing business activities.
  4. Developing a comprehensive solution is not only the job of RFID experts. The RFID solutions provider should also be prepared to make available multiple other skills including Business Analysts, Test Engineers, Project and Program Managers and Software Engineers to craft the total solution.
  5. From product tagging to operating the RFID equipment, business users must be methodically trained by the solutions team on both the equipment and the overall solution to ensure proper change management to ensure a smooth transition into RFID.

Zone24x7 counts over a decade of experience in deploying RFID solutions across multiple industries. We have custom designed hardware, software, robotics and fully integrated solutions to cater to the unique and challenging business needs of our clients. This blog post outlines an approach which we have successfully adopted during our many client engagements to maximize the success of our projects.

Nuwan Weerasinghe

Head of Marketing

Is RFID for you? – What to know before you start your RFID journey

RFID has been around for a long time. Some companies who did get on the RFID bandwagon quite early had mixed results and questionable ROI. However, over the last few years, more and more companies across multiple industries have reported successful deployments. Like with any technology deployment, success very much depends on the underlying business priorities and operational factors.

Here, we identify a few key factors which we pay attention to when evaluating RFIDs “fit for purpose” for our clients.

At what granularity level do you require your inventory to be counted? 

Businesses such as warehouse operations perform pallet or equivalent cycle counts while some businesses such as apparel and footwear inventory require a fine grain item level (UPC, SKU) inventory to deal with a “high mix complexity” due to size, colour, style. Hence, RFID provides better ROI for such item-level inventory purposes due to the inherent convenience and efficiency of RFID over Barcode.

How frequently do you perform inventory/cycle counts?

It is imperative that businesses keep their inventories updated, as frequently as possible in order to cater to their business needs optimally and effectively. RFID technology suits this need for rapid automated cycle counts. If you need very frequent cycle counts such as daily, near real-time or real-time, it makes more sense to employ RFID due to the convenience and speed over a barcode-based approach.

Do you deal with high-value low volume items?

When you deal with high-value low volume items such as jewellery, or exclusive branded merchandise, the physical security of such items is of paramount importance to avoid losses due to theft. Also, the low quantities of such items kept in the inventory pose a challenge on accurate order fulfilment. Hence RFID serves as a Security tag as well as an efficient mechanism of item-level tracking of merchandise.

Are your products perishable due to seasonality?

Products in retail and healthcare industries are prone to perishability due to seasonality. Such products which are targeted for a particular time frame or season must be closely tracked to ensure the optimal inventories are kept to service orders during the time period.

With RFID technology, businesses can keep track of items consistently and accurately. 

What is the Omni-channel visibility your products require?

Certain businesses would require to notify the availability of items in real-time or near real-time across multiple channels such as web, mobile etc to customers and suppliers. This requires a high inventory accuracy which is a key benefit of RFID.

Does your business require assets constantly being tracked to increase visibility and efficiency?

Businesses such as healthcare and equipment rentals need assets being tracked constantly. In such a context RFID technology can be employed to enable constant visibility and accountability thus making business processes more efficient.

Ashen Monnankulama

Ashen Monnankulama was an Associate Business Designer at Zone24x7