Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was first used in World War II by the British navy to identify their aircraft so that they were not subject to friendly fire, but the lack of standards was a brake on its expansion until 2003. Many wrongs expectations have been raised about RFID technology and its applications, which in turn discouraged many companies from deciding to implement it.
Today, however, it has become an almost essential technology when it comes to guaranteeing integral traceability in the supply chain, the returns on investment are very fast and the improvement in the quality of services is resounding.
More precisely, RFID is a technology for the capture and automatic identification of information contained in electronic tags. When these tags enter the coverage area of an RFID reading and writing device, it sends a signal so that the tag sends the information stored in its memory to be transferred to the management systems.
The key points of this RFID technology are that the data exchange takes place without the intervention of any operator to activate the RFID reading, so the identification is done without contact, at a distance and without direct vision. In addition, it allows multiple and simultaneous identification, identification on the move and without specific orientation, and allowing repeated writing and reading in real time.
Inventory, maintenance and control of protective footwear, and for that matter personal protective equipment (PPE) more broadly, has always been an arduous task for prevention, human resources or personnel departments in charge of this within companies. When we have all the inventory, we can control the maintenance or periodic revisions of all the equipment even if they have different revision or expiration dates.
Some people make lists, spreadsheets or data tables with the aim of trying to track and control footwear with a certain consistency. Even so, it is a laborious job that is constantly evolving, with additions, deletions, revisions, losses and breakages. Currently, at CTCR we have an efficient, innovative, fast, comfortable and simple system for identifying and controlling footwear through the use of RFID technology and software adapted to the needs of each client. As already anticipated, it is materialised through small devices called tags that can be attached or incorporated to equipment, products and even people and have them uniquely identified.
However, choosing the most suitable RFID tag is not an easy task, as it requires in-depth knowledge of how it works, as well as on the processes through which the objects to be identified will pass.
The factors that influence their choice are very diverse:
• Frequency of the tag – reading distance
• Characteristics of the object to be identified – metal, water content
• The type of application – passive or active tag
• Environmental factors – humidity, temperature, pressures, durability
• Size and weight
• Cost – relation between the object’s value and the tag
• Orientation and location of the tag
• Location and placement of the tag
What are the advantages of the RFID system
Today, the most widespread technology for object identification is barcodes, but it has quite disadvantages:
• There must be a direct line of sight between the code and the reader
• Low amount of data that can be stored
• Impossible to be reprogrammed
RFID tags have many advantages:
• Reading without physical contact – distance between 1m and 3m
• No direct vision between tag and reader is necessary – they can be inside a bag
• Mass tag reading with a reader
• Storage of all the necessary data including serial number, brand, model, colour, expiry date, revision dates, incidents, observations…
• Data overwriting
• Security coding for both reading and overwriting of each tag
• Customisation with the client’s logo or name
All these features make RFID technology have multiple applications depending on our needs and inventory control operations.
“small devices called tags can be attached or incorporated to equipment, products and even people”
Logistics and distribution
As outlined in the following sections there are diverse applications for logistics and distribution, including the receipt of goods, warehouse management, picking of orders, real-time management, and shipments and secure loading.
Receipt of goods
Using RFID technology for the receipt of goods, you will achieve a reduction in labour as it is not necessary to disassemble the pallets. You will also obtain the highest reliability in data capture thanks to its introduction in your management system or ERP.
For raw materials, semi-finished products, or finished products, warehouse management using RFID allows you to drop off and pick up goods without human interaction. Alerts can be used to know the KPIs.
Picking of orders
Order and expedition preparation with picking, all automated and on-line with the ERP, increasing productivity by 20-30% more than with the traditional barcode.
All movements managed without human intervention, in real time. Control panel and interfaces with your ERP or management software.
Shipments and secure loading
The order in the loading of trucks and delivery vans is a necessary task for a fluid and reliable logistics.
Therefore, we guarantee, the control of the content of the shipments and the order of loading for a correct distribution. Alerts for loading errors.
Entry and exit movements
With strategically located RFID portals you will be able to control entry, exit, replenishment and return movements within the warehouses. All movements are recorded without human intervention. This way, the stock of the warehouse is obtained in real time.
RFID for operations
Change locations, move goods, leave goods where they should not be located, with RFID you will know where each product is without the need to register it manually.
“with strategically located RFID portals you will be able to control entry, exit, replenishment and return movements”
Manage your warehouse automatically, obtaining a real-time map of the status of each location. Configure locations according to your business criteria or KPI’s (management indicators) and program alerts for specific procedures.
Know the location just when the operation is performed and without human intervention. You will know where specific product batches are located.
Know exactly the productive capacity of your business. How much volume are we producing today?
Early error detection
Are there any faults in an order?
Is a machine running slower? With RFID the solution is much faster
and more preventive.
Real-time order processing
Urgent orders. Order processing status in real time, production completion forecast… Loyalty and credibility to our customers.
Point of sale
Accurate and quick inventory
Radical reduction of inventory time with the highest precision and reliability. Models, sizes, colours, features, all the data you need instantly, without losing sales.
With an accurate knowledge of inventory and items sold, you will adjust your stocks and prevent the consumer from leaving without finding their size, colour, model… Make your customers loyal.
Receive items immediately and put them on sale for immediate replenishment. The RFID will provide speed, reliability and accurate management of your items.
New purchasing experiences
RFID technology can also be used for electronic article surveillance (EAS), as well as for logistics and inventory processes.
Using RFID tags from the start, the entire supply chain increases its speed, information and decision-making capacity, with ready-made items reaching the shelf.
Point of sale
Accelerates processes at the point of sale by simplifying check-out and updating inventory. It validates the sold article.
RFID technology can also be used for electronic article surveillance, as well as for logistics and inventory processes. An all-in-one that is deactivated at the cash register when the sale is made.
Great potential to encourage the interaction of consumers with the brand, sometimes facilitating the capture of information, increasing service levels or even improving productivity providing value by achieving:
• Greater impact on customers
• Increased reputation and image as an organisation
• Increase in sales, motivated by personalisation and exclusivity
“RFID tags placed on PPE verify workers are wearing mandatory protection equipment, and can block machinery in the event of danger”
Success case in PPE
Today, RFID technology opens up a world of possibilities. The Footwear Technology Center of La Rioja have wide expertise in the development of automatic systems to control the use of Personal Protection Equipment with RFID technology, in order to improve safety at work. The system uses RFID tags and antennas placed on personal protection equipment such as helmets, boots, gloves, masks, etc. to identify users, verify that they are wearing mandatory protection equipment, and even block machinery in the event of danger.
With RFID technology, the company can control and have exact traceability automatically. It provides intelligence to the individual protection equipment, allowing to verify its correct use, avoiding losses, controlling access to restricted areas and acting against situations of risk for the worker.
In many factories there are dangerous areas that cannot be accessed. Instead of fencing them, this system allows to warn, through RFID antennas, if a worker is invading that dangerous area, sounding the alarm or directly blocking the machine. In addition, this system ensures the protection of the operator in dangerous machines and vehicles where the visibility of the driver can be very reduced.
What do I need?
What do I need to implement the PPE control system with RFID tags? Firstly, a study must be made on the equipment to be identified, the environments where it is used or stored, working temperatures, work operations for their control (in warehouse, in workplaces, in accesses to them…) in order to subsequently establish the most suitable equipment and tags that best adapt to the client’s needs.
Once the initial study and the needs have been carried out, the RFID tags are placed, the identification, data recording and security coding, if required, of the PPE by means of a reader/recorder and later introduced into the database by means of the software that is personalised for teach customer.
Once the RFID system has been implemented in the PPE, only a desktop reader or wireless portable reader via Bluetooth is needed to identify the equipment and we will immediately obtain the necessary data (status of the equipment, expiry date, owner, date of next revision…) and we can update the data in real time and immediately, being recorded in the tag itself and/or in the customer’s database. From CTCR we can advise you on the choice, implementation and control of PPE, tools, machinery and even personnel by means of RFID technology, providing you with both the tags and the readers and recorders, security seals, thermal printers for cards, stickers… as well as the placement of tags, inventory of the equipment, recording and data encoding and all this supported by specific software adapted to each customer’s needs.