Advocates of RFID believe that this move could significantly cut costs and clean up barriers in the supply chain. The technology is closely linked to the logistics supply chain and is expected to replace barcode scanning technology in the coming years. There are indications that RFID technology will be applied and promoted in the field of pharmaceutical logistics.
RFID challenge barcode
Road automatic toll collection systems, access control systems, identification and other applications have long been integrated into our daily lives, but RFID as the core technology has not caused much attention; Wal-Mart "requires the top 100 suppliers in 2005 The use of RFID technology when sending pallets and boxes to their distribution centers before January and the establishment of the China National Standards Working Group on Electronic Labels has pushed RFID to a new wave, making RFID a hot spot in 2004. One of the words. Rather, it’s not the RFID technology itself, but the application of RFID in the commodity circulation and supply chain is the real hot spot; or the rise of RFID technology is not because it is a new technology, but because of this technology. It has begun to mature and gradually has the ability to go to practical applications.
Although logistics and supply chain are only one of the application areas of RFID, if RFID technology can be closely linked with the electronic supply chain, it is likely to replace bar code scanning technology within a few years, and will revolutionize the retail, logistics and other industries. Variety.
At present, in the field of commodity circulation, bar codes are the main means of product identification, but there are still many insurmountable shortcomings in bar codes. For example, a barcode can only identify one type of product and cannot identify a single item; a barcode is a visual propagation technique that must be read when it is visible; the barcode is easily torn, stained, or dropped.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a non-contact automatic identification technology that automatically recognizes target objects and acquires relevant data through radio frequency signals. The identification work requires no manual intervention, and RFID technology can recognize moving objects and recognize multiple tags at the same time. Not afraid of oil stains, dust pollution, etc. It can be said that RFID has the advantages of waterproof, antimagnetic, high temperature, long service life, large reading distance, data encryption on the label, larger storage data capacity, and changeable storage information. Of course, the application of RFID in the field of logistics does not only involve the RFID technology itself, but a huge application system involving many aspects including technology, management, hardware, software, network, system security, radio frequency and so on. From the current status quo, RFID replaces barcodes and faces many problems to be solved, such as standard issues, application system follow-up, and price, security, and privacy protection issues.
RFID enables the identification and tracking of every item in the supply chain. The key is that each RFID Tag has a unique identification code. There are currently coding systems for various items in the field of circulation. For example, the JAN code, the EAN code, the UPC code, and the ISBN code in the book used in the barcode. But these are the codes for the product category, not the code for each item.
Pharmaceutical logistics is regarded as an RFID "testing ground"
According to media reports, the US-based pharmaceutical group will use RFID tags in its supply chain to evaluate its actual utility. According to Accenture, the group's project manager, companies involved in the project include pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and retailers. These include Abbott Laboratories? Barrharmaceuticals Inc.? Cardinal Health? CVS Pharmacy? Johnson & Johnson? McKesson? Pfizer? Procter & Gamble and Rite Aid. In addition, the Medical Distribution Management Committee and the National ChainDrugStores Committee expressed support for the project and will provide relevant information to its members. The development of RFID technology is currently being carried out in the retail industry, mainly driven by large retailers such as Wal-Mart. This technology is mainly used for tracking the flow of boxes and pallets between the warehouse and the store.
Texas Instruments (TI) is a technology leader in RFID and a number of standards advocates. It is also a large integrated manufacturer of electronic tags and reader systems in the world, and has produced more than 400 million tags. RFID products have been used in a large number of applications around the world. For example, the UK's Marks & Spencer supermarket uses TI's RFID electronic tags to manage the supply chain of fresh food. This technology is used for 1/10 of the cost of bar code and greatly improves the supply chain. Management improves efficiency. Applying RFID technology to 10,000 pallets at the Dutch Flower Order Center, the ordering accuracy of flowers is 99%. The use of RFID technology in sportswear produced by Goldwin reduces overall costs and shortens the time period for production and distribution. Gap uses RFID technology to track and manage apparel, increasing the company's sales by 20%. 3M's library management system completely replaces the original barcode recognition system with TI's electronic label, Tag-it?, and the library can use an electronic label to manage the borrowing, searching, inventory, and theft prevention of the book.
TI is more optimistic about the following application areas: one is the application field of the pharmaceutical industry. If the pharmaceutical industry can use RFID technology, it will solve many production and sales problems. The pharmaceutical manufacturer can accurately grasp the current situation of the product, improve production efficiency, reduce labor costs, shorten product quality assurance time, monitor all conditions of the product manufacturing process in real time, quickly respond to the market, and reduce the quantity loss of expired products. The other is the application area of the supply chain. The RFID-enabled supply chain system can significantly increase inventory management accuracy to 100% and increase productivity by 10% to 20% in distribution centers. In addition, RFID systems can reduce labor costs in warehousing and distribution centers; effectively evaluate products that need to be recycled, and quickly find products in the sales process; reduce counterfeiting, monitor inventory and distribution in real time, and reduce production cycles.
It takes time for RFID tags to become popular
As a replacement for bar code technology, RFID tags are a brand-new technology with broad market prospects. However, due to the immature technology and the constraints of many factors, it takes time to popularize and promote.
The standards are not uniform. The inconsistency of standards (especially those defined by data formats) is the primary factor that constrains the development of RFID. Because each RFID tag has a unique identification code, if its data format is various and incompatible, then RFID products using different standards cannot be used universally, which is very unfavorable for the circulation of goods under economic globalization. of. The issue of standards for data formats relates to the interests and security of individual countries. The current status quo is the confrontation between the two major standards organizations in Japan and the United States, and China has begun to develop its own RFID standards. It is expected that many other countries will begin to develop their own standards. How to make these standards compatible with each other and make an RFID product smoothly circulate around the world is an important and urgent problem to be solved. Another problem with the standard is that there is no official international standard for RFID products (including various frequency bands). Currently, RFID products are incompatible with each other, which causes confusion and incompatibility of RFID products in different markets and applications. . This is bound to create obstacles to the interoperability and development of future RFID products. At present, China's electronic label national standards working group is considering the development of China's RFID standards, including the standards of RFID technology itself, such as chips, antennas, frequencies, etc., as well as various application standards of RFID, RFID in logistics, identification, transportation charges, etc. Application standards in various fields.
Technical implementation is difficult. Radio frequency IC distributor Richardson Electronics is planning to help customers implement RFID technology. Greg Peloquin, the company's RF and wireless communications group manager, revealed that RFID applications revenue has increased by 35% in the past year. RFID is an emerging technology that many customers believe will replace barcodes completely. Their business is currently small, but they have six key customers working on RFID readers and tags on warehouses, clothing and toll roads.
However, how to turn this expensive and up-and-coming proprietary technology into a favorable supply chain tool is currently a big challenge. The RFID inventory tracking system is a project of a supply chain group. In order for this technology to work smoothly, a company's overall supply chain must be fully involved. At present, many domestic manufacturers pay attention to RFID chip technology, but there is still less attention to RFID back-end application software and management of electronic tags in circulation. For enterprises using RFID technology, how to effectively deal with the huge data brought by the application of RFID technology to reduce costs and improve production efficiency is a crucial issue. So companies need a data management platform that includes back-end databases, applications, and the right analytics to handle the vast amounts of data generated by RFID systems. Otherwise, companies may be overwhelmed by large amounts of data without the benefits of RFID technology. At present, many large application system developers such as Sun, SAP, Oracle, IBM and other companies have seen this problem or business opportunity, and have begun to integrate RFID technology into their products to meet the huge demand in the future.
There are few logistics management applications. From the current status quo, the application of RFID is still limited to the inside of the enterprise, and there is less attention to how to manage RFID in logistics, because it involves the entire link of the supply chain, including logistics and distribution units, customs, industry and commerce, taxation, etc. Each link. The application of RFID is an ecological environment. Only the label itself cannot be applied. It must have a corresponding application environment and management means to promote the large-scale popularization of electronic labels. In addition, the large-scale application of RFID involves price, privacy protection and security issues. There are still obstacles in the current RFID technology to be applied in the field of confidentiality of information. How to improve the security of electronic tags without increasing the cost is still a problem to be further studied.