RFID & Work In Process: A Partnership in Efficiency

RFID & Work In Process: A Partnership in Efficiency

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Guitar Manufacturer Work in Process

Today, RFID is everywhere in partnership with Work In Process applications (WIP). This partnership leads to benefits in business operations that are life changing. Admittedly, RFID performs very well when it comes to identifying assets, but beyond its identification function, it touts additional benefits in operational efficiency.

Here are a few examples where operational efficiency is inherently implied.

RFID & WIP In Agriculture

In agriculture, RFID automatically

  • tracks animal health over a lifetime

  • minimizes illness through tracking

  • traces the origin of a diseased animal and its products (Mad Cow, E Coli, etc.)

  • ensures purchase of healthy animals at auctions where tags are read

  • gives real time information of animal’s production capability (cow/milk, hen/eggs, etc.)

  • gives real time information about reproductive functions (fertility, copulation, etc.)

  • improves the management of feed stuffs to animals

  • monitors grain and forage for quality

  • ensures the quality of feed stuffs in the marketplace (moisture/temperature: mold, for instance)

  • manages gates and machinery for safety

And the list of benefits could go on and still barely touch on the inherent efficiency  RFID lends to the WIP in an agricultural operation.

RFID & WIP in Healthcare

In medicine, RFID automatically

  • matches tissue samples, blood and other critical fluids to a contributing patient

  • gathers accurately numerous test results from a single patient into one report

  • provides immediate, comprehensive information about a patient gathered from real time and historical data

  • manages inventories of drugs, medical equipment and consumables so they are available when needed, but monitors to reduce redundancy and overhead

  • locates materials quickly (patient records, discrete equipment: a defibrillator, for instance, etc.)

  • identifies human error and sends alerts in case of danger (wrong leg for knee replacement, sponge left in patient, for instance)

  • ensures the authenticity of pharmaceuticals

  • matches pharmaceutical and dietary needs to patients as prescribed

  • matches medical treatment to patients as prescribed

  • gives mentally ill patients more freedom by monitoring location and risks

  • improves diagnosis and decision making using real time data

  • improves sanitary practices (autoclave cycles and hand scrubbings, for example)

  • secures physical access

Although patient identification is not mentioned in the list above because identification is fundamental to RFID tagging, it must be noted that patient misidentification is one of the major sources of medical errors, and it can be drastically reduced by RFID tagging. Certainly, the efficiency in patient care diminishes dramatically when accurate identification fails on any level.

And the list could go on and still barely touch all the benefits accrued from using RFID in the WIP of a medical operation.

RFID & WIP in Manufacturing and Retail

In Manufacturing/Merchandising, RFID automatically

  • decreases line downtime in conveyor systems

  • diminishes manually placed orders for WIP goods

  • counts products quickly and accurately through multiple WIP counts

  • allows for prediction of mechanical breakdowns

  • allows for quick mechanical routing changes

  • improves visibility of entire chain of production for analysis and decision-making using real time data

  • reduces overstock

  • keeps inventory fresh

  • integrates systems and processes

  • reduces charge backs and the cost of their investigation

  • handles orders more quickly

  • fills orders more accurately.

  • ensures timeliness of product promotion displays and merchandise

  • allows for better management of personnel

  • reduces liability

RFID & WIP in Transportation

In Transportation, RFID automatically

  • allows trucks with RFID tagged credentials to bypass weigh stations stops

  • facilitates gate operation and fueling without leaving vehicle

  • records real time logging information (location, weight, maintenance)

  • keeps an inventory of fleet history

  • monitors cargo

  • reduces staffing at terminals and parking lots

  • schedules efficient dock usage to minimize wait time

  • allows for cashless parking and toll road access

  • maintains occupancy for a parking place holders

  • identifies open parking spaces

  • keeps disabled parking open

  • controls the speed, potentially, of vehicles especially in hazardous areas

  • warns of needed highway maintenance

And again, these lists can go on, and on and on.

Often the lists have suggested efficiencies that could, perhaps with a slight change in verbiage, be germane to other categories.

We’ve only just begun. More categories can be made.

For instance, a list can be made for education:  efficiency in attendance, more efficiency in handling behavioral and scholastic records so they follow students (teachers, administrators) throughout their academic life . . . .  

A list can be made for science: efficiency in data gathering and management of all sorts of reactions: microorganism behavior on the ocean’s floor, the pressures put on astronaut's body parts in outer space. . . .

Another list can be made for sports: golf (efficient ball location, efficient swings .. . ), football (efficient evaluation of players. . . ). . . .

Although some of us think of WIP in terms of supply chain economics (and rightly so), most endeavors are a work in process (or progress, if you prefer), and in each endeavor rests a desire to be efficient. But endeavors have inefficiencies. That’s where the benefits of RFID partnered with WIP is important. And, as seen in the lists above, when RFID tagging enables forethought, WIP efficiency improves.

RFID and WIP practices are not a panacea to all the woes of business but a partnership of the two can make can make an operation and life more efficient and better.