Who is Integrated Strategies?

January 25, 2008

RF Strategies

The most popular post on this blog is Warehouse RF Network. If you do a Google search for Warehouse RF it is the number 2 result. How we got to that spot I'm not sure, but there we are. A lot of the organic traffic that we get comes in through that post. Looking at the search terms that drive people there it seems that RF networks in warehouses are one of the biggest questions that people have when they go about setting up a new facility.

RF is one of the fundamental blocks of an efficient warehouse. It is the driver of so many "Best-in-Class" style processes that it is simply foolish to not implement it. The cost has come down over the many years since it was introduced that it should be part of any operation. However as is the case with most technology, a lot of operators are confused by it and what needs to happen to implement it.

When it comes down to it, an RF Warehouse system is not all that different from your at home wireless network. Most of the general equipment is the same in concept, simply bulked up to industrial grade. The real difficulty to RF is getting the right software and processes around it. Picking a WMS is the hardest part really. There are now so many options for Warehouse Management Systems that going through them to find the best for your situation can be a truly daunting task.

The trick to RF is making sure that the planning around it is complete. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to putting in a very strong solution:

1. Implement a reliable WMS system
2. Setup a warehouse map and picking rules
3. Develop new putaway and picking processes to leverage the RF and WMS systems
4. Train all warehouse employees in detail on how to use the system
5. Perform a complete inventory count
6. Activate the system

The difference between RF and a paper system is, at the simplest level, the interface. Everyone you would employ in your warehouse is familiar with paper and how to work with it. There is a mindset about RF that it is more complicated because it involves a lot of technology. The truth is that the technology is now developed to the point where it is highly user friendly.

Lately when the topic of RF comes up, the natural follow-up becomes “What about RFID?” RFID is the next generation of Radio Frequency. There has been a lot of investment by organizations trying to push RFID as an efficiency driver. A lot of people know by now that Wal-Mart dictates their suppliers use it and the US Military has adopted it for inventory control as well.

What you probably haven’t heard is that even Wal-Mart is having a hard time driving their suppliers to RFID. They just recently began imposing a $2 per pallet fine for every pallet that comes in without RFID tags. The implication of course is that there are quite a few pallets coming in without it. Why aren’t companies moving towards it? Why is it always on the horizon as the next big thing without actually hitting? The simple answer is that the cost to implement continues to refuse to drop. Technologies usually drop in price as they become more widely used, RFID isn’t.

If you have any questions about these systems feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We are here to help you understand how to make these systems work for you and your company.

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