Asset Tracking consists of identifying and tracking the movement of physical assets and equipment within a location as well as their incoming and outgoing movement to and from the workplace. Inventory Control is a process that manages the quantity of stock and tracks its movement through warehouse, manufacturing and supply chain. It applies to every item from raw materials to work-in-process to finished goods and covers every stage from purchase to delivery.
Management of assets and stock inventory is a complex task that faces several challenges. Lack of visibility regarding differentiation, location, movement and usage is the most common and also the most critical challenge in inventory tracking. This causes errors, misplacement, lost time, additional manpower requirement and maintaining duplicate inventory, resulting in higher cost of inventory management. Shrinkage due to lost assets, theft, expired stock and non-compliance is another factor that impacts business. Scheduling, life-cycle management and audit trail are other areas that suffer due to inefficiency in asset and stock control.
Efficient asset and stock inventory management requires the availability of the right item in the right quantity in the right place at the right time. Conventional tracking methods such as barcodes have distance constraints, require manual positioning within line of sight and can get easily damaged. Besides, they do not ensure that inventory is accurate and up-to-date. RFID offers the only assured solution that provides real-time automated tracking, ensuring total visibility and highest accuracy. RFID based real-time tracking results in real-time data and instant decision making on asset allocation, inventory levels, reorders and storage management.
RFID tagging of inventory enables each individual item or component to be allocated unique identification and be uniquely tracked throughout the production and distribution supply chain. RFID readers are placed at various locations within a factory or warehouse and at entry/exit gates. They continuously read tags that are within range and send this data back to the controlling system. Data associated with each unique tag gets easily updated on the server when the tagged items are moved from one location to another. RFID has no line of sight requirements since the tags can be read remotely over a considerable distance. Unlike barcodes, multiple tags can also be read simultaneously, enabling full shelf-loads or pallet-loads to be tracked at once. There is also no stoppage in movement flow since the tags can be read on the move as items pass through a portal that has mounted RFID readers.
Deploying RFID in asset and stock inventory enables maintenance of reduced inventory levels and just-in-time delivery scheduling. It provides improved batch control, better process control, accurate component management and maximum asset utilization. It enables automated reordering and reduces order lead-time. It improves shelf availability and speeds pickup in the warehouse. RFID significantly improves security through automated tracking and alarm triggers at exits, and also improves quality control through inventory history, automated shelf-life monitoring of items and asset life-cycle management. Improved asset and stock inventory management through RFID ensures that excess capital is not tied up and that there are further savings in time and labour utilized. RFID is a reliable, efficient and cost-effective method of tracking goods and assets for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. It is being increasingly deployed by more and more enterprises as a transformational technology for the modern business world.