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Sidebar: CCI's RFID lessons learned

Asked what he has learned thus far as his company implements RFID, Cesar Castillo’s Dr. Rafael Moreno responds with the following observations:

“It’s very hard to redesign traditional warehouse operations for RFID. Typically, with warehouse systems, your menus and screens and programs are all built around human-centered transactions. With RFID, you have to throw away those transaction concepts to get the most benefit out of this technology. We’ve had to compromise what we do with RFID and what we can afford to do in transforming our systems. An issue that everyone eventually faces is this: If you use the same process as before, you won’t derive all the benefits of RFID. When you start to understand what RFID can do, that’s when you realize how far behind you are at reaping its benefits.

RFID technology is an enabler, but it is also a hurdle.

For the first time in a long time, I can see this as a technology that can really transform operations, but it’s going to take a while to get there. As an industry, we have all made a huge commitment to prior technologies—to bar coding and human-machine interfaces—all done human to machine. RFID can automatically operate machine to machine, conducting transactions on your behalf behind the scenes. And an RFID reader captures a number of transactions at the same time.

Those aspects represent a whole different ballgame than everyone is used to. You need to think about your processes differently, and design them differently. RFID is a disruptive technology, we have to break away from and throw away some of our systems to reach its potential. RFID is not an extension of current technology, it is outside the envelope.”

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