Most RFID systems require some kind of facility infrastructure, whether that be an Ethernet jack, WiFi hotspot, or a local desktop computer. Requirements such as these have become so commonplace in the RFID industry that most people view them as necessary complexities. Cellular RFID readers, however, allow for RFID solutions where they were previously not feasible.
The following are a few examples of use cases that are made uniquely possible by using Cellular RFID Readers:
1. Applications without traditional local infrastructure (Ethernet/WiFi)
Applications in existing facilities, Outdoor Applications, Applications in Rural Areas
RFID applications in some facilities may not have easy, consistent or reliable access to Ethernet or WiFi. There are also many outdoors or remote location applications that are limited by the availability or access to traditional network connectivity. In these instances, the use of a cellular RFID reader can be the difference between deploying a successful project or none at all.
Another issue to consider is the availability of power outlets. If these plug-ins aren’t conveniently available in facilities, outdoors or in rural areas, this could be a large deterrent to using RFID. Fortunately, cellular readers – like the Seeonic Sightware Cellular UHF RFID Reader which uses ultra-low energy and batteries – offer these applications a truly “unplugged” solution for RFID.
2. Applications involving consigned inventory.
Consigned medical devices & medication, Consigned retail inventory, Consigned products
Retailers, users, and manufacturers that deal with consigned inventory appreciate not being tied down by purchasing or producing many of thousands of dollars of inventory with no guarantee that it will sell in their region or market. While the consignee of the inventory enjoys the flexibility of this option, the consignor is taking a risk by trusting them with their inventory because it could be lost, stolen, or simply not sold due to lack of motivation by the consignee. Accordingly, the consignor may want daily, weekly, and/or monthly inventory counts in order to keep track of their inventory.
Automated inventory visibility allows the consignor to:
- Keep an accurate sales total to compare against the consignee’s records
- Have visibility into how certain items are performing in that market
- Have immediate knowledge of lost or stolen inventory when compared with sales records
- Immediately send more inventory when an item’s stock is getting low
By using RFID to automatically keep track of consigned inventory, the consignor is mitigating the financial risk involved with widely distributing inventory that is still on the balance sheet. And as an added benefit, both the consignor and consignee can be provided with insightful data and item-level visibility.
Obstacles to using traditional fixed reader systems include:
- If the consignee cannot (or prefers not to) offer the consignor access to its network
- Networks are available but the consignor does not want to deal with IT department, security audits or changing firewalls
- WiFi access might be available but it can be a hassle to deal with access/password change management
With cellular RFID readers, all these obstacles can be overcome by enabling the consignor to setup an autonomous solution without having to involve the consignee’s network and communication infrastructure or having to educate the consignee on how to install the system at their facility. Data collection with cellular readers can be handled remotely via the cloud and the system can function without much hands-on interaction.
3. Applications that need a truly mobile RFID data capture solution.
Medical Sales, Vehicle Inventory Solutions, Mobile Medical Carts
Managing data collection and visibility in a mobile application in which inventory is moving on a daily or weekly basis, as in a vehicle, mobile cart, or mobile tote bag can be very challenging. Because of the amount of movement and consistent packing, unpacking, and on-the-go consumption of products, many challenges arise. For example:
- Excess inventory
- Lost inventory
- Stolen inventory
- Inventory stock-outs
- Inventory expiration
- Inventory recalls or notices
- Overall diminished visibility
- Controlling sample stock
In these mobile applications, it is not possible to use traditional fixed RFID reader solutions because they require a constant power source and access to traditional Ethernet or WiFi infrastructure. Handheld RFID readers depend on a traditional infrastructure as well, and, although there are RFID handheld devices that offer cellular communication, they still depend on a human to operate them which adds unreliability.
Using battery-operated cellular RFID readers in these mobile applications enables the item-level visibility needed to solve the common pitfalls mentioned above. Solving these problems frees up personnels’ time, enables inventory efficiencies, increases the level of customer service and safety, and ultimately allows for higher sales and profits.
To learn more, Seeonic has a blog post on this topic entitled “Escaping the Constraints of Legacy Readers with Untethered RFID™.”