A boat carrying multi-colored freight

Why RFID Is Such a Vital Link in Global Supply Chains

Considering the multiple challenges currently affecting global supply chains, today is a fitting occasion to reflect on the creative problem-solving and RFID innovations that are helping to mitigate the impact of disruption.

Whether it’s a loaf of bread or a laptop, everything that we consume, use or drive has made a journey to our door involving numerous organizations. When any part of that supply chain is impacted, it ripples throughout the system. Just as the Covid pandemic led to a global shortage of silicon chips, the tragic war in Ukraine is throttling supplies of important foodstuffs.

By maximizing efficient identification, tracking and condition monitoring of raw materials and finished goods on their international routes, organizations can increase visibility, tackle fraud, diversify suppliers, fulfill orders, reduce losses and support local and international economies.

How an RFID Supply Chain Improves Operations

Prior to RFID tagging of goods, trucks, containers and pallets, organizations suffered considerable inefficiencies and a percentage of stock shrinkage between warehouses and receiving departments as a result of personnel searching for misplaced stock, shipments sent to the wrong destination, or goods being lost or damaged in transit.

RFID supply chain tags allow organizations to gain real-time visibility of assets in production, transit and storage and to communicate their identity, quantity, location and condition to their supply chain partners. RFID data and analytics provide greater visibility into lead times and support better forecasting.

The ability to quickly scan a truckload of goods entering a warehouse and instantly locate and reload those items for onward distribution has delivered massive time and cost savings to organizations including East Coast Warehouse, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), CoreRFID and British online grocer, Ocado.

Innovation You Can Identify With

Eighteen years ago, Omni-ID’s (now a part of HID Global) R&D team cracked the problem of creating passive UHF RFID tags that could be used on metal containers without their signal being affected by the surrounding environment. We are now the leading supplier of passive, low profile UHF RFID solutions that survive in the harshest environments, and which are used extensively to identify and locate assets in supply chain, logistics, mining, exploration, and oil & gas industries.

Getting Active and Going the Distance

In 2020, HID/Omni-ID launched its range of Sense active, energy-efficient RFID devices that can transmit the location and condition of assets over BLE, GPS and open standard LPWAN network protocols.

For yard and warehouse management systems, Sense BLE products communicate with readers up to 200m away and can link to LAN, public cloud, WiFi, cellular networks or locally hosted client application servers. The Sense LoRa products transmit the identities, location and status of assets to readers up to 15km away in flat open spaces and up to 4km away in urban spaces.

The OmniSphere middleware IoT platform supports existing customer applications and corporate systems, allowing the current and previous location of assets to be viewed on a configurable map, using GNSS coordinates, with the option to set alerts when assets enter or leave geofences, or when their temperature falls outside of preset thresholds.

Seal of Confidence

Last year, our parent company, HID Global, added the HID Seal Tag edTamper Aura to its comprehensive range of HF and UHF RAIN® RFID asset-tracking tags, which are designed to withstand temperature extremes, exposure to harsh weather and chemicals. The Seal Tag edTamper Aura securely tracks and traces highly sensitive materials and digitally detects unauthorized access to sealed containers, to provide proof that sensitive assets have not been compromised en route to end users. Security checks on assets can be undertaken to verify their status using RAIN RFID handheld or stationary readers, without having to open storage containers.

Converting Creativity Into Solutions

When customers come to us with a problem, our R&D teams get creative, and the resulting solutions help to advance the use of RFID in a broader range of applications. As an example, the latest additions to the Sense Passive range evolved from custom devices that HID/Omni-ID developed to meet specific client requirements.

The five new Sense Passive devices include innovative small form factor ceramic RFID tags and printable on-metal and off-metal labels that can measure moisture, liquid volume and live-temperature of assets in transit and storage. The extended product family serves a broad range of applications from cold-chain management and datacenter asset monitoring, to detecting the presence and volume of liquids in pharmaceutical and healthcare settings.

Icons and graphics connected over a picture of a warehouse

From shipping to distribution, RFID solutions enable the global supply chain to become smarter and more reliable.

RFID Helps Solve Today’s Supply Chain Management Challenges

We have observed how innovations in one sector accelerated the development of RFID, IoT and NFC solutions in related industries, resulting in problem-solving technologies that intersect and advance the whole ecosystem. UHF RFID adoption is growing and we are adding complementary technologies such as BLE, Quuppa and Wirepas to our products to help customers and system integration partners to solve specific challenges in their sectors. This is a hugely exciting time to be working in our industry.

HID Global’s mission is to help customers adopt RFID products that fundamentally improve their businesses. The breadth and synergies between HID IDT and Omni-ID’s technologies will allow us to continue to deliver innovations at scale to solve the supply chain management problems of the world’s largest organizations.

For a deeper dive into HID Global’s perspective on how supply chain management issues are forcing organizations to adapt to new challenges, read our white paper, Supply Chain Issues Force the Security Industry to Get Creative.