RFID Inventory Management Levels Up with Impact Indicators

Jun 9, 2020

The business value of a smart, resilient supply chain can never be overstated. It’s not enough to distribute risk globally or to track cargo as it moves – or sits – among carriers and warehouses throughout the world. Manufacturers need smart solutions that alert them to the conditions that cargo has faced, and that let them act immediately when things go wrong. 

Passive RFID tracking tags have emerged as a key element in supply chain tracking — and with SpotSee’s innovative combination of RFID and impact indicator technology, logistics managers can make sure shipments not only arrive on time, but aren’t too beat up along the way. 

The Impact of Impacts: Embrace RFID with Impact IndicatorsRFID impact indicators can tell you just how severe the damage might be

Stakeholders throughout the supply chain need to know not only where items are, and also when things go wrong

That’s true in the automotive industry, where parts managers need to ensure that only non-damaged components go into inventory; in the pharmaceutical industry, where impacts can destroy certain therapeutics; in the aerospace and medical device industries, where impacts can throw sensitive instruments out of calibration; as well as in countless other industries. Even railways use RFID sensors to track rolling stock and locomotives.

Smart, resilient, connected, and optimized supply chains are the key to business successes in an increasingly complex world. To thrive, businesses of all types need a system that reduces inefficient, error-prone processes and replaces them with intelligent, efficient technologies that integrate seamlessly with the existing workflow. And they don’t have to start from scratch.

RFID sensors are a case in point. They revolutionized shipping and warehousing when they were introduced in the 1990s. Finally, locating cargo didn’t depend on someone logging its receipt and condition, entering that into a tracking or inventory management system. Instead, with RFID, when tagged cargo passed a sensor on the loading dock, it was automatically logged into the system. Error rates decreased.

ShockWatch RFID Unactivated SpotSee Impact Indicators

Today, RFID does even more. SpotSee’s ShockWatch® RFID tags integrate with existing UHF RFID readers to not only track cargo using passive RFID tag signals, but to also record impacts that occur throughout shipping. With a variety of impact thresholds available from 5 to 37 Gs, you can focus on events that have the potential to cause damage. This is called “exception management,” and it helps you optimize operations so you can do even more while tightly managing costs.

With SpotSee’s combined RFID and impact indicator solution, you can access a condition report each time the passive RFID tag passes a scanner – like during handoffs between carriers – regardless how many service handlers are involved. Importantly, the ShockWatch RFID tags can be read by any UHF scanner. As a result, you can know instantly whether parts can be put into inventory or need a thorough inspection, or whether something happened during transit that requires replacement items to be shipped – even before the cargo arrives.

A Simple, yet Groundbreaking Upgrade to RFID Inventory Management

The combination of impact monitoring with RFID tracking has the potential to revolutionize logistics. Rather than installing and monitoring two tags, supply chain managers can rely on one solution, simplifying their own purchasing, monitoring, and reporting.

But, most importantly, SpotSee’s ShockWatch RFID tags provide you with the peace of mind that comes with enhanced insights into the mile-by-mile handling of parts, components, and ingredients from suppliers around the world, all the way to the manufacturing facility and, ultimately, to your customers.

This knowledge of damage or impact doesn’t depend upon seeing an indicator (although the tags do provide visible indications, turning red if an impact threshold was reached). Rather than relying on someone to notice a problem, SpotSee’s RFID tags enter their data directly into the organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, warehouse management system, or the SpotSee Cloud. As a result, you can remove human error from the equation.

Because the data is logged into the SpotSee Cloud, logistics managers can check the status of items at any time. That’s particularly important for time-critical shipments. Shipping diagnostics readers to hospitals or public health laboratories is one example, but there are many others in which components are expected to be unpacked and used almost immediately.

Impact Indicators + Passive RFID Tags Ensure Accountability and Enable Optimization

Passive RFID tags with impact indicators easily isolate possibly damaged shipments

The more complicated the supply chain, the more likely is it that damage will occur. With multiple parties involved, proving damage can be difficult. SpotSee’s passive RFID tags eliminate that problem. Because potentially damaging incidents are logged automatically, each time the tag passes an RFID reader, you can easily and accurately determine whether damage occurred and, if it did, where the event happened. Therefore, you can accurately assign accountability for damage.

Because carriers see the RFID tag, they know this cargo is being watched. They become more careful. Customers say the ShockWatch RFID solution has helped them reduce damage by 40 to 60 percent.

RFID inventory management allows you to do all this in mass quantities. Unlike bar codes, hundreds of RFID tags can be read simultaneously. So, you can track the condition of palletized cargo and continue tracking individual items once the pallet is broken down and the items are distributed throughout the warehouse or factory. 

For example, an aircraft mechanic can check the impact history of a part before its installed. If it experienced potentially damaging conditions, that part can be set aside for further inspection, thus enhancing the safety of the airplane. This insight into conditions also lets personnel triage inspections, concentrating their efforts on items that were handled roughly, while those with no incidents can be accepted and put into service.

Easily Add Impact Indicators to your RFID Inventory Management

Learn more about SpotSee’s innovative combination of impact indicator and RFID inventory management technologies and get its full details and capabilities here

If you’re ready to find out just how ShockWatch RFID can revolutionize your own supply chain, get in touch via the form below.