Using RFID for Cycle Counting / Physical Inventory
Many businesses today conduct inventory counts as part of their operations. The purposes and frequencies of these counts may vary depending on the business. However, some example may include:
- Annual audits conducted from a financial perspective to cross verify that assets in the company’s books are in fact where they should be.
- Inventory cycle counts to cross verify inventory and ensure there are no variances. Common reasons for these variances may include overages/ shrinkage.
Different strategies may be taken including counting a sub section of product lines or a specific area of a warehouse. Traditional means of collecting this data include tallying products on a count sheet or scanning barcodes off product labeling. As you would imagine, the collection of this data is often time consuming and prone to error.
RFID technology, specifically UHF (RAIN) RFID, can be used to cycle counts or conduct physical inventory and provide tremendous workflow automation in the process. The technology works by placing an RFID tag or label on inventory and assets. For counting, an RFID handheld can be used to automate the data collection. Benefits include:
- Quicker inventory times – RFID has the ability to read many items at a time. The technology also doesn’t require line of sight so counters may not need to lift up each item or be able to visually see it to be able to count it (On the contrary, if scanning a label off a box, the counter would need to find where the label is located and aim the barcode scanner at the label) For example, this is valuable in dense environments so users don’t need to bend down under desks or climb scaffolding.
- Higher Accuracy Counts – With RFID , as the counting process is less dependent on users individually scanning items, higher accuracy counts are typically achieved.
- More Frequent Counts – As counts take less time and are more accurate, they can be done more often. The culmination of this data is extremely valuable and can be used for advanced analytics and machine learning.
- Better asset / inventory management – With higher accuracy, improve asset utilization as well as reduce lost / out of inventory situations.
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