RFID Automation with BCC Distribution
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology provides real-time and fully automated data collection for unmatched accuracy that elevates business systems, devices, tags and worker for many inventory and asset tracking operations. From production floors, to warehouses, to complex distribution center environments, reliable RFID is not only possible, it’s now practical and well within reach. When supplementing a barcode scanning system, RFID technology has tremendous value and can automate inventory data collection and real-time analytics, especially when integrated with your SAP business system. At BCC Distribution, we provide comprehensive end-to-end RFID solutions essential for successfully incorporating automated data collection technology into nearly any business environment… be it SAP S/4HANA or another ERP system. Done right, barcode scanning and RFID solutions are complementary technologies to streamline and simplify business workflow.
Barcode Scanning versus RFID Technology
Knowing the key differences between barcode scanning solutions and RFID automation technology is important when deciding which solution to integrate with your business environment. Depending on your company goals, working environment, and inventory procedures, the ideal approach may be either a barcode scanning solution, RFID system, or a hybrid approach (combination of both technologies) to meet your specific business requirements for inventory process improvement.
RFID is a wireless, non-contact use of radio frequency waves to transfer data and identify objects such as parts, assets, pallets, and much more. RFID systems are typically comprised of an RFID reader, RFID tags, and antennas to start. Supplementing the equipment components, RFID software is instrumental in parsing and instantly transmitting data to/from the business system. RFID is very similar to scanning a barcode in how the action of pushing a button triggers scanning and reading data from a barcode object on a label. From there, the similarities change and RFID becomes significantly more capable, as well as potentially complex. Unlike barcode scanning, RFID does not require line-of-sight to capture and collect key data from a RFID tag, such as a material number. Meaning, the RFID tagged item may be hidden in a box, in the center of a stacked pallet, or on a shelf behind other items. Additionally, a RFID system can support capturing data from many RFID tagged items in seconds. A common example being reading and capturing all the materials on a pallet that’s being loaded on a truck.
Another key difference is that a RFID system may be implemented requiring no user interaction and supporting full business system automation. Whether triggered by a physical sensor or being “always on”, RFID system design and business value is maximized by removing the need for physical user interaction.
There are several differences between barcode scanning and RFID automated data collection. With that said, both approaches support SAP-integration, utilize technology-specific hardware, and require various levels of user interaction to accurately count inventory, load trucks, track shipments, and manage working environments. At BCC Distribution, your company will find everything it needs for the successful design and integration of a RFID solution that meets your asset or inventory tracking requirements.
For an effective and efficient RFID system for any business environment, you’ll need product-matched RFID labels or tags, mobile or fixed RFID readers and antennas, and data processing software compatible with both the RFID system and for integration with your business system application. Each RFID component is essential for a complete and reliable RFID system that will increase productivity and optimize warehouse operations.
RFID Labels and RFID Tags
RFID tags and labels are affixed to inventory parts, assets, and other objects that your company needs to keep track of. RFID labeling is a science of its own, and potentially the most important aspect of a RFID system in order to maintain business value and keep ongoing costs low. Plus, RFID labels and tags have a plethora of available options. From a simple pre-encoded 4” x 6” pallet UHF RFID label, to an aerospace-level RFID permanent tag that records maintenance history. All RFID tags are not created equal, and counterfeit RFID tags can occasionally be a security or reliability concern. BCC Distribution leans on industry leading RFID label producers to ensure that every RFID tag commissioned and applied to your inventory performs as expected.
Your RFID system will depend on reliable data. Reliable data originates, or is commissioned, at the printer level. And with nearly every business using some form or document and/or barcoding label printing today, printing and encoding of RFID labels is a natural next step. Plus, many RFID applications will want to maintain current human readable and barcode data to provide for system redundancy. Partnering with industry leaders in RFID printing and tag validation, BCC Distribution is able to offer a wide range of RFID printers to accurately print and encode RFID labels, tags, and cards where and when you need them.
- Shipping and Receiving
- Work-in-Progress (WIP) Tracking
- Back-of-Store Operations
- Compliance Labeling
- Product Idenitification / Serial Numbers
- Security Tagging
- Specimen / Laboratory / Pharmacy Labeling
- Cross Docking
- Inventory Management
- Asset Tracking
- Receiving / Put-Away Labeling
- Order Picking / Packing
RFID Readers and Antennas
Together in a passive RFID system, RFID readers and antennas work together to emit radio waves to energize, interrogate and collect data from RFID tags or labels. RFID antennas are connected to the RFID readers, either one-to-one or multiple antennas to a single reader, creating an RFID portal or gateway. Fixed RFID systems are strategically positioned in the working environment, often at a pass-through doorway or bottleneck, so as to funnel inventory through the configured RFID fixed reader portal. There are also mobile RFID readers, that include an embedded antenna, that are handheld and can be utilized to scan for RFID tags and labels at the point of execution. Depending on your business needs and warehouse environment, your company may benefit from use of either or a hybrid RFID system using multiple types of RFID technologies.
- Handheld RFID Readers and RFID-Enabled Devices
- Fixed RFID Readers and Infrastructure
- RFID Antennas
- Integrated RFID Portals for Gateways
- Mobilized RFID Control Systems
RFID Data Processing Software
Lastly, RFID systems require hardware-specific utilities and RFID data processing software to facilitate data collection, parsing, and integration with a client’s business system or centralized database. At BCC Distribution, our RFID systems are designed to be compatible with direct integration into our client’s SAP software, or with a flexible centralized database approach (such as SQL) for maximum business environment optimization. When paired together, BCC Distribution’s RFID software and services solution enables your business to collect and synchronize data with SAP software or another ERP system for fully automated data collection solution to optimize inventory traceability and warehouse management.