Guest Column | August 20, 2009

Managing Indirect Materials With RFID: RFID Tool Tracking Basics

By Robert Holmes, WinWare, Inc.

For a technology to take a stronghold in the marketplace, it must directly solve a known challenge or support the process improvement needed to overcome this challenge. RFID moved into the spotlight when WalMart and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) began to push the rapid development of the technology. The goal was to improve the processes surrounding logistics, delivery, and receipt of product. This was the driving factor behind the rapid RFID technology advancement of the last 5 years.

Although RFID has made an impact on the logistics front, it has not been an easy road. Process improvements have been achieved and standards established, but I think everyone would agree it hasn't proven to be the "pie in the sky" as it was once being billed. While the primary media focus remained the logistics side of RFID, a few innovative small companies were finding unique uses of RFID technology that did directly solve known challenges.

In the background, many asset tracking applications were being developed to monitor expensive machines, IT equipment, hospital assets, amusement park rides, tools, and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) supplies. This "closed loop" use of RFID has become amazingly popular and has proven amazing ROI.