RFID and The Future of Manufacturing

In recent years, a series of innovations have emerged to bring the manufacturing industry into a new evolutionary stage. The increased use of automation combined with the ubiquity of smart devices and their wireless networks make it possible to reach levels of flexibility and efficiency never before possible.

Today, the advanced level of intelligence realized in manufacturing processes is possible thanks to new technologies including Business Intelligence (BI), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Services (IoS) and the Internet of Things (IoT).  These technologies allow the modern company to improve their production processes through the manipulation of enormous  amounts of data now available, that provide a deep and clear understanding of how processes work, with enough detail to identify problems and take corrective action translating into more effective and productive operations.

The introduction of these new technologies is known as intelligent manufacturing solutions or Industry 4.0.  With Industry 4.0, it is now not only much easier to manage the process of manufacturing but at the same time, we can obtain information throughout the production and distribution processes, regardless of scale or volume. Manufacturers can access substantial and very detailed information in real-time and at any point in the process.

Connectivity, intelligence, and security are important benefits that have been added to the entire supply chain, even to points of sale and after-sale, generating greater accord with the customer experience. Now technology changes the way we interact and manage products, from the time they are manufactured until they reach our customers and beyond.

The Role of RFID in the Industry 4.0

RFID technology in the smart factory has much more complex applications than mere product tracking over long distances. Manufacturing processes can now capture, and leverage information stored in RFID tags in increasingly sophisticated ways, allowing greater flexibility and efficiency in the manufacturing of customized products and enabling a higher level of automation and standardization than ever before. Check out the result in our Automotive Case Study.

There are a variety of RFID labels that can be adapted to different products and surfaces and that store several kilobytes of data. Reading and processing the data requires only milliseconds.

Keep in mind that in the face of similar technologies such as barcodes, RFID tags have several advantages in the smart factory.  For example, RFID technology allows wireless product tracking. There is no need to be connected to the product, touch it, or put a reader a few centimeters from the product to obtain information. RFID labels can be read from several meters away without line of site.

The information stored by an RFID tag is as valuable on its face as is the ability to follow a product path from production to retail, providing invaluable information in Big Data times about the entire process, not just the product. As a result, with the new information available combined with the help of Business Intelligence or Data Mining applications, manufacturers can now handle alternative and variable solutions for just-in-time and just-in-sequence production processes. They can obtain deeper knowledge about production control, process optimization, and quality control.

Business Intelligence technologies, as we said before, then allows us to process this information, making it possible to follow the product throughout the supply chain and learn about its interaction with the customer. These large volumes of additional information that were previously unavailable provide manufacturers with more tools and information to grow and optimize their entire business.

Here are some innovative applications for RFID in the Smart Factory:

Manufacturing: The use of RFID allows a better interaction between components, products, machinery, and even workers. It allows greater opportunities for individualization since the product is the one communicating what it needs at a given point in the chain. At the end of each stage in the production line, the product status can be store and can update automatically on the label itself. Tag information can be accessed in real-time by diagnostic or analytic tools. The security mechanism of the on-chip tag serves as a test of authenticity, quality, and security at any point in the process. The labels are accessible even when the product is in a box, and allow last-minute customization operations (like a language change, for example). The machines themselves can authenticate their own spare parts, which ensures that correct replacements are being used, reducing the percentage of production errors to virtually zero.

Supply chain:  The RFID capabilities for product tracking and task tracking provide increased visibility and improve efficiency throughout a supply chain. Digital authentication helps brand owners protect themselves against counterfeiting and facilitates the passage of products through border and customs controls.

Pre and post-sale: While on commercial premises, customers can check the authenticity and accuracy of products thanks to the information stored in RFID. After purchase, the label can continue to generate interactions between the buyer and the manufacturer, offering information on spare parts, warranty, and proper recycling. In this way, RFID extends industry 4.0 to the point of sale and prepares it for the next evolution of e-commerce, the Internet of Shopping. In addition, along with other technologies, it will be possible RFID tags to store information about the buyer of the product, valuable information in terms of better-targeted advertising campaigns and repeat customers.

In conclusion, MSM Solutions works with its clients to customize the RFID technology solutions to integrate the existing business processes and software systems.  We have experience fitting the technology across numerous applications in the manufacturing process with leading manufacturers. Let us help you implement RFID into the next generation of manufacturing; working in many more aspects of the production process, producing competitive advantages with vast amounts of new information provided in the new age of intelligent business.

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