USING RFID TECHNOLOGY FOR TRACEABILITY
TRACEABILITY: IS THAT REALLY USEFUL?
Traceability is the ability to formally identify the origin, motivation, course of development and relations of “something”.
Traceability allows to accurately trace the place of origin of the product, the raw material used and to follow all the steps that led it to reach the final consumer, but there’s a wide range of possible applications.
Think about traceability for food, in agriculture or farming, traceability for healthcare, for pharma, for automotive, for services or documents: it is important because it’s about ensure transparency, minimizing risks and giving proof of compliance to standards and regulations, in a word, of “quality”.
HOW IS TRACEABILITY PERFORMED?
The starting point to track and trace something with RFID technology is assigning a unique identification number, so that any other information can be linked to this number, in each process.
For quantitative tracking, RFID has the advantage of allowing simultaneous readings, from a distance.
For qualitative tracing, where the need is to record information throughout different steps, again RFID is the ideal solution since the chip can receive, store and add data, at any given point.
But some materials, like metal or liquid can impact the signal, and the implementation costs and efforts may be significant, so let’s see some examples where the RFID choice has shown perfectly fit to business needs.
TRACK AND TRACE FOR WASTE CONTAINERS
The primary multi-utility agencies in Italy have introduced RFID technology to support environmental services with automatic identification of waste containers and bags.
The goal was to guarantee perfect compliance with the requirements of the process, while safeguarding efficiency and effectiveness.
Each bin, crane-lift igloo, road container and dumpster has been equipped with a sealed and rugged tag, suitable for use on plastic and metal, and in harsh, open environments.
The collection vehicles and the crews have been equipped with RFID readers so that waste collection is made easier and quicker. Most processes are automated, each container is identified and geolocalized and by analyzing data the whole service is constantly optimized.
RFID is great in the identification and traceability of perishable food in the food sector, to safeguard food safety and quality.
Starting from growing, breeding, processing, transporting and selling, each step in the food supply chain can be covered, combining RFID technology, to grant traceability.
The information is recorded and stored in every stage, so that food is clearly identified from its origin and during each finishing process stage until it reaches retailers, with the aim to:
- automate processes and reduce people work;
- coordinate and record inner check and outside check to ensure food safety;
- provide a central management system that gathers together all the information;
- ensure the full chain transparency: during selling all data linked to RFID tags can be shown in the final receipt of the consumer.
TRACEABILITY FOR LUXURY SHOES
A primary luxury shoemaker has implemented an advanced RFID traceability project, using RFID technology, with UHF tags: it’s a great example of traceability in manufacturing processes, to grant quality to the final customer.
Upon arrival at the factory, all the parts that make up a product batch are placed on trolleys, equipped with RFID tags, and each batch is linked to its own trolley. The workstations are equipped with a reader, that reads the tag and identifies the trolley during the processing. In this way it is possible to know the batch progress in real time throughout the production cycle.
Thanks to this smart and automated system, at each step, tag readings are recorded in a timely and precise manner, which allows to make accurate predictions on the expected delivery date to the customer.
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