Freight shipping has always been — and probably always will be — inherently risky. However, these days, it’s getting less risky, thanks to radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking.
Shipping isn’t like it used to be, decades ago, when you just had to put something on a ship, train, or truck and just hope for the best, with no way to know or keep track of what might be happening to the shipment in transit. Now, thanks to RFID tracking, you can follow your shipments every step of the way, and even gather shock, impact, and temperature data on the receiving in. Some tracking tags even allow you to monitor shipment information, like temperature, in real time so you can take action if, for example, your shipment of ice cream gets left out on the loading dock instead of swiftly taken into the cold warehouse. RFID tracking technology can help you avoid and mitigate shipping damage and delays, optimize shipping routes and methods, and even get more done with fewer employees.
Monitor Shipping Conditions
Do you ever wonder how shipping and logistics professionals keep perishable food fresh during shipping? RFID tracking technology has a role to play. For some time now, companies like Dole Foods, PepsiCo, and Walmart have been using RFID tracking devices to make sure that fresh produce, frozen goods, meat, eggs, milk, and other temperature-sensitive and perishable foodstuffs are kept at food safe temperatures throughout the supply chain.
Dole uses RFID and GPS tracking technologies to monitor the vegetables and fruits as they move through the supply chain from harvest to processing, packaging, shipping, and delivery. GPS capabilities in the tags allow shipping and logistics professionals to see where their perishable (and non-perishable) food shipments are going. The tags can also collect and transmit temperature data, so professionals can make sure perishables are kept food safe during processing, shipping, and delivery, as well as other information, like shipping routes and shock and impact data. If a shipment runs into delays or a particular route or method results in more shipping damage than acceptable, these RFID tracking devices will capture that data so that logistics can use it to make better decisions and minimize shrinkage in the supply chain.
Log Shipments In and Out of Inventory Easily
Logging shipments in and out of inventory at a warehouse used to take a lot of time and energy. Sometimes, it required teams of workers to unload shipping containers, freight trucks, or boxcars just to account for all of the stuff in the bill of lading. Even though barcodes remain ubiquitous throughout much of the supply chain, you still need to get your barcode reader within a few inches of the sticker and it needs to be oriented to the sticker in a certain way in order to capture the data.
One of the great things about RFID tags is that RFID readers can pick them up from a distance, and you don’t even need to orient the reader towards the tags in any specific manner. That means a single person can now do the work that once required an entire team, by capturing all of the RFID data from a shipment quickly and easily. Warehousing processes are streamlined significantly as a result.
Track Products Throughout the Supply Chain
RFID tracking has really caught on in the retail sector, because of the potential it creates to track goods throughout the supply chain. Demand for retail consumables is skyrocketing, and RFID tracking allows retail companies a greater degree of dexterity in shipping and logistics. These technologies allow retail services to know exactly where the products they need are and avoid or minimize stock-outs.
Prevent Data Inaccuracies
Human error is the biggest source of data inaccuracies in shipping and logistics. RFID tags are not only more efficient, but more accurate than old-fashioned, paper-based, manual data collection and tracking. RFID technology eliminates the risk of, for example, accidentally grabbing the wrong bill of lading and getting incorrect shipment data, because information is collected automatically with the RFID reader and the RFID tags are, at least in theory, always correct.
RFID tags are streamlining the shipping and logistics industry, making it easier than ever before to move products through the supply chain efficiently and dexterously. In fact, without RFID technology, the shipping and logistics industry as we know it today wouldn’t exist — and it certainly wouldn’t be poised to meet consumers’ growing demands with aplomb.