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The Surprising Uses of RFID
May 04, 2018

The Surprising Uses of RFID

Radio-frequency identification is pretty nifty. Although the location-tracking tags that integrate with inventory software have been around for decades, new applications continue to appear as the tech becomes more affordable and approachable.


Uses of RFID


1. Construction sites: Smart belts to increase worker safety

Large construction sites can be complex hives of activity where there’s simply no way to keep track of employees using conventional methods. That’s where RFID comes in.


There is a simple RFID tracking device that clips to workers’ belts and helps ensure managers can contact them when needed. It also integrates with construction management software. The device registers if a worker slips or falls, alerting safety managers who can make sure aid arrives quickly. Workers can also use the devices to notify managers of safety issues they encounter.


2. Airlines: Customer visible real-time luggage locations

Air travelers don’t soon forget the nightmare of lost baggage and the bureaucratic headaches that often ensue. Now, RFID is putting their minds at ease. Since 2016, the airline fliers who check bags receive mobile notifications as bags are loaded onto and off of airplanes and when they reach carousels for pickup.


By embedding RFID chips in each luggage tag, the airline has achieved an eye-popping 99.9% tracking success rate. In the same way that customers want information at their fingertips about flight changes, the customers want clear visibility to their checked bags.


3. Warehousing: LED guided order picking

An online click would never result in a package delivered to your door without the efforts of vast ranks of pickers, who help gather items and package them for shipment at distribution warehouses worldwide. Now, RFID and LED guided picking systems  are helping pickers find items faster, reducing error in the process. RFIDs are real-time location aware of both the picker and items on the pack list. Using that information, the software can toggle LEDs for aisle and bins; literally lighting the way for pickers.


4. Retail shopping: cashierless, checkout-free stores

While experts have long predicted that RFID tags would lead to stores without checkout lines, this long-rumored future has been slow to materialize. Recently, Amazon has filed patents for RFID-enabled stores but denied that RFID is involved in their new checkout-free Amazon Go grocery store. Now, Chinese retailer JD.com is taking strides of its own toward the unmanned store of the future, and RFID is definitely involved. Together with facial recognition technology, RFID could allow no-wait checkout and personalized in-store offers. As JD.com ramps up its competition with fellow Chinese retailer Alibaba, RFID could find additional ingenious uses.





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