Insight by Zebra Technologies

As RFID technology grows, it creates opportunities for agencies and businesses

This content is sponsored by Zebra Technologies.

Organizations that move products need a place to put everything, and for government agencies and businesses, warehouses are a way of life.

In the recent past, barcodes have been the standard method for keeping track of products, but with the advent of 5G, automation and machine learning, warehouse management is finding new ways to move, store and keep track of items.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is proving to be a futuristic approach to product storage, and one that most likely will be adopted more and more in the years to come.

“We’re seeing a really large leap forward in implementing smarter sensing technologies and also seeing a lot of adoption of more advanced technologies with passive RFID over barcoding. That’s really changing the landscape of warehouses,” said John Wirthlin, industry principal for manufacturing, transportation and logistics at Zebra Technologies, in a discussion sponsored by Zebra Technologies. “It’s really due to the increased throughput, increased business and customers wanting things faster. So, our customers are trying to figure out how to automate and do things faster and more efficiently. RFID gives you a lot more flexible automation capabilities to provide that.”

RFID uses electromagnetic tags to identify and track items using small radio systems. RFID can scan, track and verify hundreds of items by passing through a single chokepoint. The items can be followed as they go through different processes in the warehouse.

“In the last three to four years, RFID has really come out of what I would say the science project phase,” Wirthlin said. “We can even marry up other technologies with RFID too. We have data loggers that that can go into shipments, and they’re read with Bluetooth technology, so we can not only find out when a product went in and out of a certain zone, but we can also measure the temperature with gateways at a chokepoint.”

Wirthlin says government agencies and business are starting to adopt RFID at large rates as the technology becomes more popular.

“We’re seeing it in all kinds of places – healthcare, warehousing, government and private enterprises,” he said. “We’ve really seen a huge uptake, even with third party logistics providers. Everybody is looking at it and seeing that it’s now a proven technology. The fact that the ongoing costs are coming down is starting to make things very attractive and the integration capabilities that we have with standard backend systems is becoming very easy.”

Warehouse and RFID

With RFID, you can take several hundred assets through a particular point or what we call a choke point, and have it read simultaneously.

Featured speakers

  • John Wirthlin

    Industry Principal, Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, Zebra Technologies

  • Scott Maucione

    Defense Reporter, Federal News Network

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