RFID - Technology Video06:03

RFID - Technology Video

Video that details the use of RFID technoligies in the supply chain. Produced by the Metro Group.


The relative size of a RFID chip.

Another major technology associated with supply chain and inventory management is Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID chips. These tags use radio frequency to read information on the tagged item from much further distances than traditional bar codes are able to. Some of the additional benefits of RFID chips include: the ability to store significant amounts of information, they can be read and updated in real time, are inexpensive to implement, can provide detailed tracking information, lead to a reduction of errors, and can enhance efficiencies in the supply chain.


     The technology necessary for and RFID (radio frequency identification) chip has been around for more than a half century. It is generally accepted that the invention of radar during WWII also created the necessity to distinguish between friend and foe. The IFF system, also known as the identify friend or foe system, projected a signal that would interact with a transponder. If the transponder simply reflected the signal this is known as a passive system. Should the transponder interact with the signal and project its own response, this became known as an active system. Relatively unchanged until the 60’s, the first major impact this technology had on the consumer dealt with theft prevention. Spawned from the idea of identifying objects remotely, the commercialization of anti-theft technology can be found in almost every retail store. The same technology was then applied to the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Today, RFID technology is everywhere and the rest they say is history.

Application & ConcernsEdit

The immediate application for an RFID chip is tracking the whereabouts of a specific item. Additionally, the invention of the enclosed chip has now expanded capabilities even further to store and transmit real time data. In the food and beverage industry spoil times and product temperature are essential to delivering a quality product on time. Placing RFID chips in shipping containers and individual orders allows the operators to track the product through each step of the lifecycle. Through wide-band scanners a warehouse can accurately determine the temperatures, storage times, and quantity of every unit after each chip is identified. Furthermore, the chips are inexpensive and each new generation has more storage capacity than the last. Another benefit of using RFID technology are the synergies and positive externalities that can be produced through sharing data. For example, Wal-Mart’s supply chain management system is interconnected to the degree that they can guarantee shipment of any product to any location within 24 hours. This improves efficiencies across the board and allows companies to better react to variances in demand

There are several causes for concern regarding RFID chips. The first concern is privacy. When a product containing an RFID chip leaves the facility it is automatically deactivated. Should the scanner or the chip malfunction and not deactivate the chip it is possible to track that product without the consent or knowledge of the consumer. Additionally, it is possible that a broad spectrum scanner can be used to scan an entire household. Every product containing an RFID chip has the potential to divulge stored data to unknown parties and exposing the consumer to unknown risk. Another problem with using RFID chips are differing international frequency standards. This increases overall costs of the product because there is no one size fits all system and thus, must be changed to fit the standard of each country.

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