Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The State Of RFID / RTLS today

RTLS, this is becoming a hotly contested subject on many blogs and posting boards. Linked In has had a very good dialog going over the last couple of weeks on the merits of Wi-Fi RTLS systems. In these Linked In Posts there is two distinct sides; those that sell Wi-Fi systems says they work and have the installs to prove it.
Price wise Wi-Fi makes sense being that you can use your existing Wireless infrastructure to do location task as well.

In most cases I find RFID and RTLS systems are over sold and under deliver. Why you ask? It is simple, RFID passive or active, Wi-Fi, UWB, ZigBee, Sonic, and any combination of these used as RTLS or Point Location systems they are not a system they are a tool.

Yes a tool! An automated location tool, it is the software, integration, dashboards, and interfaces that pull this all together and make the location information the RFID tool supplies useful. Time and again we get involved in systems that do what they are supposed to do locate. Many times these systems are sold on what they can offer not what they supply. When the system is up and running the customer is left with location information and little else. Sure I can find stuff faster but in business today going to another system and jumping screens or systems is just not acceptable. They want answers, data that says order a replacement, consume inventory, fill the order, control work in process, and a host of other decisions that our distributed global supply chain and manufacturing requires.

RFID, in any form must be sold and integrated into the business as a seamless end to end process not a standalone tool to be of value. Hire a good integration RFID consultant and project manager with a solid past in Logistics value stream mapping and process control to do your location needs and supply chain modeling. Yes it cost more upfront but the value will be in a system that works.

Have fun and go Locate Something.