Radio Frequency Identification (RFID):
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an electronic identification system, one of the most impactful innovations of the 20th century. RFID technology is based on wireless communication, using electromagnetic fields for automatic identification of an object, an animal or a person carrying RFID tags.
RFID technology can be applied in many manufacturing industries such as textile, fashion, civil, electronic, automotive, food, logistics, healthcare, tourism, library, and aviation. Specially RFID technology has been widely adopted by many manufacturing, retail and logistics industries. The fashion and textile industries are looking for automation to increase efficiency and reduce lead time. In the field of fashion and textile supply chain, there are many tangible benefits of implementing RFID. Many manufacturers and retailers are switching to RFID technology in the place of barcodes due to RFID’s ability in automatic data capturing, tracking and automatic identification.
The care labels used in garments are either printed or woven, which store limited information. Recently, electronic care labels, which use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for storing information electronically on a garment, are paving their way. These labels can store sufficient amount of care information in an electronic chip, which can be read by suitable devices or readers. Besides, it is becoming an increasing trend to employ radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to identify and track individual products in the apparel supply chain.
Application Areas of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID):
RFID technology has been used in a range of applications with the most important applications are given below. The application areas are also shown in below Figure.
Fashion & textile: RFID is an emerging technology for fashion and textile supply chain and manufacturing. Fashion products are characterized by short life cycles, volatility in demand, large product varieties, customized requirements and high-quality requirements. Apparel industries always focus on the sourcing of low-cost material and cheap labor. Furthermore, finished fashion products should also be available at cheaper prices, which makes it hard for apparel manufacturing industries to survive in developed countries. To become cost competitive, many apparel industries are seeking to optimize the cost structure in their supply chains by RFID. Several fashion brands have followed in the footsteps of Walmart and DoD in implementing RFID technology.
Retail stores: There is great potential for RFID technology in retail stores. The technology can be used for product tracking, merchandise replenishment, theft prevention, customer relationship management (CRM), managing returns and counterfeit prevention. At the point-of-sale, RFID can be used for self-checkout by customers. It can also be used for the management of customer returns or reverse logistics.
Assets tracking: Tracking various assets in large organizations such as hospitals and corporate offices is a challenging task. RFID technology can be used to track immovable assets such as wheelchairs, beds and storage racks as well as in-motion assets such as laptops, cellphones or vehicles. Similarly, tracking the exact location of assets that are in continuous motion in warehouses (such as forklifts and pallet jacks) is a daunting task. The use of RFID technology can trace the exact location of tools and equipment, which increases ROI. One recent application includes tracking high-valued engine components during aircraft manufacturing or tracking aircraft during testing or test-runs. It can also be used to track parked vehicles, rail coaches and shipping containers.
Animal tracking: The movement of different animals can be tracked using RFID tags. This can help in studying the life pattern and movement of different animals. Many zoos and animal protection groups are using this technology to study the life pattern of various animal species.
People tracking: RFID is used in jails and hospitals to identify criminals and patients, respectively. Tracking jail inmates is widely used in many jails in the US to closely monitor the movement of inmates. In hospitals, RFID technology can be used to identify and monitor patients requiring special care, emergency patients and people suffering from anxiety.
Tracking newborns & infants: The swapping of newborns is a common problem faced in hospitals in many countries, which is an emotional stress for many parents. Therefore, many hospitals have looked into various solutions to resolve these issues and found that RFID technology is a solution for this problem. Both the baby and the mother are fixed with secure wristbands fitted with RFID tags. A swapping of babies will be automatically detected by the RFID system and will alert the hospital staff and parents.
Product tracking: The RFID system can be used in the manufacturing industry to track the progress of different products. Any process delay or bottlenecking can be identified if the product is not progressing. During supply chain of the products, they can be easily identified as per their location, which can be used to estimate the arrival date.
Supply chain management: RFID is used for the tracking of various individual products as well as tracking the shipping containers. It is used for inventory management and automatic updating of stock. It can also be used for shrinkage prevention in the supply chain process.
Libraries: RFID technology can be used in libraries for book management and prevention of theft. It can also be used to check the availability of books or the correct location of the books within the library, if they are moved.
Toll collection: RFID technology is used for toll collection on toll roads, which is the most common use by millions of people. The vehicles using RFID technology do not need to queue up for toll payment. The vehicles use a small RFID-enabled device in the windshield. When a vehicle with an RFID-enabled device approaches in the fast lane, overhead readers in the toll collection center read the details of the vehicle and process the payment.
Preventing counterfeit: There has been tremendous growth in counterfeiting luxury fashion products. RFID technology can prevent counterfeiting. The data or logo relating to the brand can be stored in an RFID chip, which can be read by an RFID reader by its radio frequency. An internal factory-programmed ID that can’t be duplicated is used to store the information to avoid the counterfeit.
Office management: RFID tags can be used to manage the employees of an office. Each employee can be provided with a unique card with RFID technology. Hence, the working hours and the number of days they work can be managed by the RFID tags.
Immigration management: RFID tags can also be used to manage the immigration of each person, including passport and visa management.
Sensing and monitoring: RFID tags can be attached with other sensors used for sensing and monitoring temperature, pressure, humidity and volume. Hence, the products needing specific conditions during transportation can be closely monitored if the conditions are appropriate. Similarly, suitable sensors can be attached with RFID tags to monitor people’s heart rate and blood pressure.
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology and Application in Fashion and Textile Supply Chain by Rajkishore Nayak
- Fashion supply chain management using radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies Edited by W. K. Wong and Z. X. Guo
- Information Systems for the Fashion and Apparel Industry by Tsan-Ming Choi
- Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye