The Use of RFID Technologies for E-Enabling Logistics Supply Chains

The Use of RFID Technologies for E-Enabling Logistics Supply Chains

Zenon Michaelides (University of Liverpool, UK) and Richard Forster (University of Liverpool, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3914-0.ch011
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This chapter reviews the potential benefits and challenges of introducing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies as a means of e-enabling logistics supply and distribution systems. It introduces RFID and associated technologies as a catalyst for e-enabling optimised supply and distribution activities. In particular, the emerging role of RFID in integrating logistics supply chains is considered key to aligning tasks and achieving operational efficiencies. Other benefits include better visibility resulting from proactive task and process management, and improved risk assessment associated with better data accuracy/quality. In addition, the optimisation of planning and control functions is enhanced through the introduction of key RFID technologies and their integration into logistics systems and operations. Finally, the use of RFID technologies is reviewed in a variety of diverse sectors and areas, from assisting humanitarian efforts through solutions aimed at recovering from the effects of natural disasters to providing accurate and effective methods of recording race times for the Los Angeles marathon.
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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is defined as a type of wireless information and communication technology, which has the ability to identify, record, verify, and process data associated with various tangible items, such as physical location of goods and the associated movement or variations thereof, as well as supporting intangible tasks, such as information processing and data execution operations associated with the provision of services.

Examples of data and information pertaining to tangible goods, which are typically captured by RFID systems are inventory quantities measured against time, date and location. Other types of measured data may include monitoring of ambient conditions, such as temperature, humidity and/or pressure, which make the use of RFID very appealing to specific sectors, such as perishable goods and pharmaceuticals. RFID has a wide use in many diverse sectors, from retail to banking, particularly in the areas of inventory management and control, such as tracking and security. RFID is key in supporting e-logistics and e-supply chain operations through its ability to exchange information with systems such as Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) systems. The integration of RFID with ERP systems and more recently cloud computing, offers new opportunities for enabling visibility, particularly in supply chains, where the exact location and movement of parts enables proactive planning and control, thus enhancing efficiencies and enabling competitiveness.

The roots of RFID date back to World War II and were born out of necessity to identify friendly or enemy aircraft in the air. This system, which is still in use to this day in the form of radar, was called Identify Friend or Foe (IFF). IFF used transponders placed on-board the friendly aircraft which, when interrogated by base radar stations, would return a unique code identifying them as being friendly or, in the absence of this code, the enemy. After the war, and in particular in the 1950s, IFF evolved further as many military spinoffs do, and is common place in both military and civil aircraft flying today (Roussos, 2008).

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