Over the course of the last fifteen years, universal product codes (UPCs) have become the dominant product-tracking standard across all industries. Created by US manufacturers to negate the lure of much cheaper offshore manufacturing labor and championed by industry retailing giants, UPC coding has improved product tracking across multiple trading partners, reduced labor costs, and sped up product replenishment. But like all technologies before it, the next great leap in the evolution of product tracking has emerged - automatic identification technologies. These technologies allow machines to identify objects and capture information, providing organizations with much greater degrees of control and flexibility in managing goods as they move through the supply chain.
One such automatic identification technology is radio frequency identification (RFID). Accurately seen by many in the industry as the next transformational technology, RFID promises higher quality information and real-time tracking. This paper will first identify what RFID technology is an how it works. It will then detail the market drivers and needs, before outlining the benefits and the challenges. Finally, an implementation strategy will be laid out, beginning with implementation within the four walls of the distribution center (DC) and extending to collaboration with trading partners.
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