Monday, January 10, 2011

RFID Automation Cures the Number 1 Supply Chain Problem

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.

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