We’ve all heard the argument before – distribution centers are already automated, so RFID adds little additional value. It’s true that distribution centers currently have many sophisticated capabilities, including robotics, voice and other technologies. But unless they also employ RFID, DCs aren’t fully taking advantage of process automation and shipping/receiving verification benefits.
Without RFID, DCs rely on container IDs to provide basic information about what should be inside each box or pallet. Without opening each and every box (or using RFID), the accuracy of this information is unknown. Actually, it is known to some extent — a study on retail shipment accuracy conducted by Auburn University in 2011 showed that the discrepancy between Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) and physical shipments in retail averages 5.8 percent. As a result, if a retailer handles one million cases annually, 58,000 cases will be inaccurate relative to the ASN.
RFID helps ensure that boxes contain the correct quantities of merchandise, in the correct assortments (size, color, etc.) as they enter and leave the DC, since the technology provides precise merchandise information about the contents of every box in every pallet – even as they speed quickly down hanging rails or conveyors. In this way, DCs can accurately track everything coming in and out of the building without opening anything.