Tag Archives: Supply Chain

RFID Growing Too Big for Its Britches?

RFID Growth Spurt Leads to Tech Shortages.

We’ve been talking about the growth and ROI benefits of item-level RFID, particularly in retail.

Supply Chain Digest reports that WalMart’s new apparel tagging program has helped lead to a supply drop in RFID EPC Gen 2 inlays, and that mobile RFID readers are now also in short supply. Why so? Lots of investment in RFID initiatives, including WalMart’s recent order for 20,000 Motorola mobile RFID readers, combined with “supply constraints that have lasted for months in basic electrical components that have cause delivery problems in a wide number of high tech gear, including mobile devices.”

In fact, Supply Chain Digest says that analysts at a major financial investment firm are predicting 300 percent market growth in RFID asset management for 2011.

Do you expect to join that growth, and invest in RFID for asset management and inventory visibility in the next year?

Read the Supply Chain Digest article.

See more about RFID printing/encoding here, where you can find resources such as our white paper “Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.”

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How Efficient Is Your DSD?

Over 4,000 industry professionals are expected to attend Canada’s National Bakery Showcase 2010 in Toronto next week. Aside from the latest in proof & bake ovens and thaw & serve products, baking and baking supply companies of all types and sizes will be looking for ways mobility technology can deliver better efficiency to their enterprise. The impact is especially strong for route accounting organizations, where mobile workers frequently interact with customers. Fact is, accuracy and productivity lead to profitability in direct store deliv ery (DSD) and route accounting operations.

In the grocery channel alone, DSD represents 24 percent of unit sales and 52 percent of retail profits1. Revenue and cash flow improve measurably if DSD sales representatives make just one more stop per day. Reducing invoice and inventory errors also reduces operating expenses by saving time for mobile and admin istrative staff, and by improving inventory availability. Some of the challenges for the industry include:

• There are discrepancies on 10.5 percent of DSD invoices issued to small-format retailers, and 15.4 percent to supermarkets and other large-format stores.

• The average out-of-stock rate for DSD items is 7.4 percent, but jumps to 13.1 percent for promotional items.

• Out-of-stocks result in $6 billion in lost sales annually.

• The average supermarket can reduce DSD out-of-stocks by 2.9 percent and increase annual revenue by $75,000.

• Automated check-in processes can reduce DSD receiving time by 60 percent.

• Efficient DSD suppliers spend 13.8 fewer minutes for each delivery to large-format stores and spend nearly twice as much time on merchandising than inefficient suppliers.

Automating DSD operations is a proven practice to help solve these problems and gain the ensuing produc tivity and profitability benefits. Mobile computing applications can help prevent order-entry errors and assist DSD staff in managing inventory more accurately and efficiently. Many companies are using batch handheld computers and DEX connectivity, but in today’s world, this is not enough to provide sustainable operational and competitive advantages.

You can see the Zebra white paper on improving DSD and route account effectiveness here.

Zebra will jointly exhibit at this event with Motorola displaying a wide variety of solutions to optimize bakery process efficiency in production, operations, and product delivery.  At this event, the two companies will be exhibiting mobile technology solutions to support the market’s direct store delivery and other related activities.

If you are at the show, stop by booth #’s 1011 and 1013 to see the Zebra and Motorola joint solutions.

Food for Thought – Bar Coding and RFID Enables Food Safety

Think of all the steps and travel your food went through to get to the dinner table. From the grower to the grocery store, multiple distributers and handlers serve a role in the food supply chain. However, the longer the supply chain in both time and transit, the more the opportunity for contaminants and bacteria to infect your favorite cuisine. So, who’s watching out for you? What can food growers and distributors do to help protect the food supply?

Ultimately, the FDA provides oversight and regulates the food supply. The FDA’s 2007 Food Protection Plan targets three food safety initiatives:

  • Prevention – Promoting increased corporate responsibility so that food problems do not occur in the first place
  • Intervention – Risk-based inspections, sampling, and surveillance at high risk points
  • Response – Communicate clearly with consumers and other stakeholders during and after food emergencies

Unfortunately, the FDA’s biggest weakness lies in its prevention efforts, and that’s where the foodservice industry can make a huge impact. How? The answer is simple. Supply chain visibility—from the grower to the grocery store—using RFID and barcode technology. Moving RFID and bar code labeling and scanning deeper into food growers, shipping, and packaging chains enables easier tracing throughout the product lifecycle.

Full food supply chain visibility provides an extra layer of protection should a food borne illness occur, allowing growers and distributors to determine if the contamination occurred at the grower or was introduced within the distribution process, and who might else might also be affected. Traceability technology provides significant benefits to food safety. GS1 DataBar bar codes can store serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates for fresh and manufactured food products. RFID tags provide read-write information that offers deep traceability—even if the RFID tag lies buried under bushels of tomatoes.

Consider the following locations for adding traceability:

  • Farms and growers – According to the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), grower-packer-shippers of fresh produce must label each case of product they pack
  • Receiving/shipping docks – Foodservice distributors can install RFID tags or bar code labeling equipment to mark incoming materials not already labeled, or scan/update the RFID tags and bar code labels to record or encode information.
  • Lot control – Lot numbers can be encoded into bar codes or RFID tags and applied to pallet-, case-, inner pack-, or item-level packaging.

From a business and efficiency perspective, implementing traceability technologies also improves overall supply chain efficiency by delivering better inventory control, faster processing, and faster turn rate on items that have tight freshness windows.

For more details about GS1 bar code labeling and RFID tagging, see www.gs1.com and www.epcglobalinc.org.

RFID Delivers Real Results for Retailers

All of us have experienced frustration when we cannot find an item we are looking for at our favorite store. Not only does the store lose the sale, we the consumer lose faith in the store. This stock-out scenario plays out daily, costing retailers millions in lost revenue and missed opportunities for building customer loyalty. This is why best-in-class apparel, footwear, and accessories retailers are turning to item-level RFID tagging to:

  • Streamline promotional tracking
  • Improve inventory accuracy
  • Ensure on-shelf availability
  • Prevent theft
  • Lift sales

Until recently, most RFID uses focused on pallet and case-level tracking. Instead, item-level tagging reaches all the way to the consumer. Today, major retailers are rolling out item-level RFID systems across the nation at an accelerating rate. In fact, retailers implementing tracing technologies know that they can boost inventory accuracy from 65-98 percent, which leads to more sales. Some retailers are realizing 99.9 percent inventory accuracy, a 50 percent reduction of in-store labor requirements, and a 15 percent lift in sales.

Here’s how it works. As the retailer receives products, an RFID reader automatically scans each item in the packing material, updates the retailer’s computer system, which then verifies product type and quantity. Employees stock the items in the appropriate locations. Scanners in the store track the item’s purchase, or if the item leaves the store without the shopper paying for it. Real-time tracking reveals if shoppers or employees misplace items in the store. This enhanced visibility allows the retailer to reduce stock-outs, boost the shopping experience, and increase sales. In addition, RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) tagging can provide the retailer loss-prevention intelligence regarding what item left the store, and when the theft took place.

Not only does item-level RFID enable precise inventory management, store execution is better, and customers can shop and find the product they want faster and easier. Plus, implementing traceability technologies can also improve overall supply chain efficiency by delivering better inventory control, faster processing, and faster turn rate on items that have seasonal- or style-dependent windows. Most important, RFID solutions scale easily as the retailer’s needs evolve. No doubt, precise inventory management offers a great way for a retailer to differentiate and authenticate their brand.

For more details about RFID in retail, take a look at this recent announcement in http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/fashion/.

Do you see opportunities in your retail enterprise to improve inventory accuracy through precise traceability?