A Solution With No Problem

2 March 2005

RFID just can’t seem to get over the hump. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear what the “hump” might be. Some business owners dream of a day with no physical inventories. I don’t mean no physical goods; I mean no counting of those physical goods on a monthly, annual or other cycle. Wouldn’t it be great to send a signal out to the warehouse saying, “all you RFID tags out there, sound off.” With that your physical inventory would be taken in the time it takes the electrons to stream back to their aggregation point.

Reality is much different today. RFID seems to be making some inroads with manufacturers. After all, tagging the same size box with the same type of tag on a conveyor you control is rather easy. Enter a UPS or FedEx sort facility or a Walmart warehouse and the challenges multiply.

In these scenarios, we’re asking RFID for ubiquity. No matter the shape of the container and no matter where and how the label was produced, we want RFID to work one hundred percent of the time. It doesn’t. It looks as if it won’t for some time to come.

With read rates of tradiitional barcodes approaching 100%, RFID technology is going to have to change dramatically in performance and price to make the impact on general distribution. In the meantime, we can keep going to conferences and hoping for a breakthrough.

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