It has been awhile since my last post but I wanted to restart the Blog this year. Merry Christmas to all that believe and not meant to offend those that don,t.
Let me know what questions you have and I'll try to answer.
We have a customer that over the years placed a few RFID projects but never really took them to the level of integration that is required for true value. They have asked for help as most of these past deployments fell short of what they expected or wanted and are white elephants collecting dust.
I have been reviewing these past projects, and what tools they have in place. Looking at recent conversations with other employees from around the organization and the questions they have posed for help, I can postulate their current standpoint of technology and direction.
State of the current tracking and tracing products in place or secured are now three plus years old, and looking at the time frame to get the vendors purchasing status with the company this equipment is setting at four to five years old. This equipment is out of warranty, batteries will be depleted or dead, and we are looking at least five year old technology.
There have been drastic advances in Location technology over the last few years limiting the cost of setting up network and power system to support these deployments. That infrastructure cost alone can eclipse the hardware cost in most installations and require months of skilled labor to put in place. As US based companies move operations to southern states, Mexico, or Overseas this stresses the supply chain to synchronize deliver to assembly facilities, matching line load, and customer demand.
I would suggest they look at quick and flexible tracking and tracing solution that can be deployed quickly with little to zero infrastructure requirements. These systems can be placed even in temporary locations and storage areas without supporting infrastructure and deployed by current unskilled workforce. Nice thing is as the new plants are constructed they can ship machine centers and equipment and not lose them in storage keeping components together for quicker assembly. When up and running these flexible systems can be redeployed into the production environment for total supply chain visibility without expensive rewiring of power or networks.
One point that I always stress is one RFID tag or Location tool is not the answer. Blending tools, software and hardware is what gives you a complete end to end solution. The Logistics process starts with the customer order and ends with customer follow-up. Without this approach you have holes throughout the system. Implementing this approach requires broad exposure to the tools in the market place and the ability to pick and choose the correct tool for each unique need and the ability to blend these together. As integration or the lack of it has left the company with literally thousands of stand-alone system and processes that have little interlacing of data. This is not unusual in US based businesses as I find this in ever one I work with to some degree. Even the ever vaulted Japanese auto giants have issues with this when you start spreading operations over the global market for production facilities. One point the Company must address is this tool selection. Not always will the best tool required for the solution be from an approved r Vendor. In this one issue alone they limit themselves to what they can or cannot deploy. Not being able to offer the total tool selection limits value, performance, cost money, and hinders our overall goal, and success factors.
Over the years we have strategically built a global network from our over thirty five years of business experience covering agreement’s with over one hundred different companies. Offering Hardware and Software solutions to meet any Logistics, production, manufacturing, mining, Oil & Gas, transit, security, and process control need we can deliver success. As such we are called on to help design systems from Fortune 100 Companies to Governments and small business as well. What this Company requires is not rocket science but it does require a strategic approach, experience, and a blending of proper tools to meet their requirement of a 2020 Company. That is the key, design for the future of where we want to be in 2020, not what fits today’s budget. What we offered this company in 2006 was a 2015-2020 vision, yes it was going to cost a chunk of money but the facts are in, they have spent more avoiding that expense in 2006 by over three times to date. Worse yet is they are still in the same place logistically as well.
I look forward to being of service to you at any opportunity. Byron
I have brought up the subject before, but let’s say this one more time! Another potential called again and said they are looking to harvest that low hanging fruit and wondered if I could help. I don’t know who coined this phrase but it is getting old. Especially when it is the same customers year after year looking to do the same thing you get the feeling that is all they know how to do.
Bottom Line Low Hanging Fruit Picking is fine as an everyday activity, starting out it is a good place the start. Problem is year after year if this is your only course of action the lower limbs get very bare. Eventually you spend these years stripping the lower branches and stretching for all your worth to pick higher fruit. All this effort is still firmly placed on the ground floor reaching up and grasping for greater reward with limited if any success.
Please buy the ladder, put in the effort to climb the tree, and before you know it you are at the top looking down looking over a job well done with vast rewards.
Good Hunting Byron
Quote from a linked in post. “My Problem with Zebra and most other location systems is the cost of the supporting infrastructure. You get into large open areas and to power and support them with readers the cost is prohibitive. With RFind and few others the blow to the budget for the supporting hardware to make is work is small if any.”
This is a common thread in most discussion groups. Of course the WiFi and ZigBee vendors come back with their perceived ability of using simple technology that is already in place to accomplish the location task. Personal I see a lot of success stores with the WiFi ZigBee tools but only if you mix in other technology for the accuracy (Sonic, IR, Other) or you add in a large amount of extra supporting equipment.
Experience has taught us that one technology (or Tag) can meet every requirement in most applications. I am not talking where say an active tag Like RFind does not do a fine job in yard management, portal, presence, or thief detection in everything from Rail, transit, manufacturing, airports, oil & gas, and much more but where you move to other areas that require a different format of technology to meet the value/performance requirements.
Software is the key to blend technologies together to get a total solution. My question is how many of you have experienced a project where what was put in place was one technology that is pressed into working for everything. Let me know what happened, what your pain points where, and if you are still using it. Have you had to break the budget to get any value from it and if your success factor was what you wanted.
I’ll share my finding with the group.
The number one issue holding back RFID deployment is the misconception that RFID cost too much and they never return value. RFID-enabled supply chains and the companies’ needs to understand how RFID changes the decision-making and supply chain dynamics.
RFID is sold to most companies under the assumption of anticipated savings on labor, operation efficiency improvements, and shrinking inventory levels. Well are these good items to base your ROI on? NO they are not, if your processes are that broken that a simple deployment of a tool like RFID can return $50,000 to $500,000 in savings then you could save more money just fixing them first place and use RFID for much more important and harder to solve problems.
RFID will return much larger benefits in decision making, line balancing, customer satisfaction, quality, and So Much Mor. .Ask for our White paper on the True ROI of RFID.
Yes the core capability of the RTLS solutions is its ability to be adjustable and compliant to match any deployment environment you require. Flexibility is something that is lacking in the RFID market but brings with it some caveats. RFID for the most part is very easy to set up; you place a reader where you intend to read the tagged asset and you have it. When you get into RTLS and beacon/locator/reference tag location, you have a lot more power and environmental options that must be controlled and understood.
Training is crucial in these products as just out of the box deployments do not work. Please let me know when you are available and I’ll set up a webinar session to go over the product with your team and show you how to set it up properly for your testing.
Get the training and you will be successful and happy. Picking the easy low hanging fruit leaves the really good product untouched.
An interesting Independent study was just released. Comprised form logistics blogs with a focus on logistics core problems and the believed cause. Covering over nine months of posts this study tracked reasons, problems, and suggested resolutions grouping them in the top ten areas of concern. One glaring result was three of the top 5 directly related to human error. These three apprised over 50% of the core problem as well.
In truth the human equation seems to rebound as unreliable again and again. As logistic consultants we get called in so many times to bring in RFID or other automation when process control is really all that is required. Employee involvement, lack of management commitment, poor processes, and a lack of understanding of what those processes are just compounds the issue. Before we do any automation we demand that we value stream map their process to make sure we understand what their actual process is. In most cases it is not close to what they think it is or what they have documented. Management and employee circumvention is everywhere and training is lacking as well.
It appears the old practice of just sticking a warm body in a position with the hopes of training getting done or acquired on the job, and the hope they can follow the documented instructions is the norm. Problem is the instructions are written in most cases by someone who has limited experience to the actual work being done, and the employee follows what makes sense to them. We can fix these problems and if necessary put in the automation (RFID/GPS/Bar-Code/ETC.) but it takes time and commitment on behalf of the customer. There is no magic Technology that fixes these problems but business keeps trying. End result is you have too many stand-alone systems that do not communicate with each other with conflicting processes that only compound the problem. It can all be mapped and blended together but there is no quick fix. Remember the longer you try to only grasp the tired expression of “Low hanging fruit” the longer you add to the problem. All the really good fruit goes to waste because you don’t want to spend the effort or the money to buy the ladders and climb them.
RFID and RTLS is the tool that controls processes and send the information to where you need it letting you know what is going on and avoiding problems before they stop production.
Thank you So much Byron Blackburn.