2011- A Big Year for RFID Technology
They’re everywhere now. Move over Bar codes; RFID tags are moving in. It’s easy to understand why this is happening. Retailers are taking advantage of the efficiency and effectiveness of RFID tags. RFID technology cuts costs in many ways. It reduces manpower since RFID tags can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to do bar code scanning. Inventory control is more accurate as the tags are constantly being read. And it decreases theft since it is easier to pinpoint where and when the item went missing.
1. Item-Level Tracking in Retail – This is the hottest trend in the apparel industry right now. Various clothing companies are hopping on the bandwagon to implement item-level tracking. American Apparel has been doing it for a few years now and they claim to have double-digit sales gains due to the new technology. Other retailers such as JC Penney, Walmart, Macy’s and Dillard’s are quickly joining in on the item-level RFID initiative. These retailers are setting the stage for implementing these “smart tags,” and this year many other leading retailers are going to follow suit.
2. RFID Printed on Fabrics – New technology allows for RFID labels to be attached directly to the fabric of garments or the care label. This technology goes beyond item-level tracking because it allows tracking to be available from production to point of sale, even if the garment is dry-cleaned, steamed or washed. Uniform rental companies are now using this technology because it allows for them to easily sort the garments by size and type after the item is returned and washed.
3. Easy to Use RFID Applications and Software- Software solution companies are creating RFID applications that are increasingly user-friendly, making the whole process of producing labels and tags less complicated. CYBRA Corp. offers a “Retail Item-Level Starter Kit,” which allows for customers to scan a bar-code tag, the software then converts it into an RFID tag, and spits out a new tag encoded with RFID. It also includes the labels, a handheld RFID reader, and free technical support for 90 days. Retailers can buy this kit and get a taste for how easy and uncomplicated it actually is to use RFID applications.
4. Cost of RFID tags dropping – Critics are quick to say that you get what you pay for. In other words, the less you pay for a tag, the less memory the tag will have. This is not necessarily true, because Walmart has been using tiny RFID chips to track pallets of their goods that cost less then ten cents a tag, and have been more than satisfied with the results. There has been a steady rise in demand for tags, and it has been forecasted that prices of RFID tags can go as low as five cents in 2011, which will obviously give retailers another great incentive to invest in RFID technology. We believe that the 5 cent tag is the magic number that will spur the technology to really take off.
5. Medical Supply & Pharmaceutical Companies Implementing Use of RFID Technology- Using RFID tags on medications has great benefits. It makes it easier to track when the drugs expire, information about the drug itself and its’ side effects, and it improves inventory accuracy. Pharmaceutical companies are using RFID tags to prevent drug counterfeiting, which is a big problem right now in the industry. Medical supply companies are using RFID to track and locate medical devices in a timely fashion. This reduces the need to have extra medical equipment, and it ensures patient safety. RFID tagging is also be used in hospitals and nursing homes; RFID encoded wrist bands are being made to help track patients and prevent elderly patients from straying.
RFID technology is beneficial for almost every different kind of industry out there. The ones that were mentioned here are just a few that are quickly implementing its technology, but it is very likely that many more will join in.