Supply Chain News

Move Over RFID: The Promise of Real ‘Supply Chain Visibility’ Has Arrived

Despite the hype, it turns out that RFID was only the beginning, the promise of end-to-end supply chain visibility that began years ago with RFID is now being realized through new, predictive tools for accessing and using supply chain data, and it’s giving early adopters an edge.

Tive Resources

Companies

  • Tive helps companies eliminate surprises in their supply chain by providing real-time visibility of the location and condition of their shipments. Tive has developed a sensor solution that allows supply chain managers to track and analyze location, climate and shipment integrity. With custom alert…

  • Company Quicklook

In the annals of predictions that don’t come true, TV meteorologists hold the top spot, followed by political pollsters and the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Rounding out the top five are the long string of technology pundits who confidently predicted that supply chain RFID tracking would conquer and re-shape the global logistics industry.

Ironically, the supply chain holy grail that RFID was supposed to deliver is now within reach - though RFID isn’t necessarily part of the technology that is making it possible.

That holy grail is called “end-to-end visibility.” It means awareness of the location and condition of every product and component, all the way back to upstream suppliers.

New tracking technologies have filled gaps in supply chain visibility. But more importantly, new information technology is capable of analyzing the torrent of data these tracking devices generate.

In our new white paper, we explain how the combination of big data processing and better tracking devices can be used not only to monitor supply chain activity but to identify and eliminate waste, pinpoint delivery times and predict failure points.

RFID’s Roots: Russian Spies and Electronic Music
The prehistory of RFID actually goes back to a Russian inventor better known for his contribution to electronic music.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Léon Theremin was imprisoned in the Soviet Union, where he had returned after achieving fame in the West for inventing one of the first electronic instruments, the theremin.

While there, he was forced to work in a state lab, where he invented a passive listening device for the Soviet spy machine. Actuated by a radio signal from afar, Theremin’s bug rested inside the Great Seal in the U.S. embassy in Moscow for seven years, from 1945 to1952, picking up conversations and transmitting them using a technology that prefigured the passive RFID tag.

Twenty years later in 1973, the first true RFID was developed as toll equipment for the New York Port Authority. In 1983, the “radio frequency emitting identifier” was patented.

Early RFID Adopters: Wal-Mart and the U.S. Army
Supply chain hype around RFID emerged in the 1990s with the U.S. Army’s adoption of the RFID-based movement tracking system (MTS) for supplying Army units. The MTS was designed to enable quick re-routing of supplies based on emergent needs and changing conditions in the field. Every company supplying the Army was required to package its goods with RFID tags.

Wal-Mart soon followed suit from the private sector: In 2003, the massive retail chain announced that it would begin requiring its top 100 suppliers to tag pallets and cases of goods with RFID. Within three years, the company said, all its suppliers would have to comply with the program. The goal was “end-to-end visibility,” a massive leap forward in Wal-Mart’s already vaunted logistical prowess.

Wal-Mart would be able to track the goods it sold from where they originated with a supplier, all the way through to the point of sale in a store. But it didn’t work out that way: Suppliers balked at the cost of the tags and Wal-Mart itself faced problems: Its IT systems weren’t powerful enough to handle the massive amount of data that the RFID project generated. Wal-Mart abandoned its end-to-end visibility ambitions in 2009, just a couple years after the U.S. Army softened its RFID requirements for vendors.

Move Over, RFID
In the last few years, the cost of RFID has come down, and its uses are more common. But there are also several other tracking technologies filling the gaps in supply chain visibility.

According to the EU A.T. Kearney/WHU Logistics Study from 2015, technologies like GPS (U.S.), GLONASS (Russian), Galileo (European), and Cellular (like GSM, WCDMA, LTE, and others) are increasingly a part of the picture.

In addition, cellular devices and services are becoming cheaper and less power-hungry. This allows supply chain managers to gain insights into stretches of the supply chain where they did not previously have any visibility, and pull impressive amounts of working capital out of in-transit inventory.

Despite the hype, it turns out that RFID was only the beginning. The promise of end-to-end supply chain visibility that began years ago with RFID is now being realized through new, predictive tools for accessing and using supply chain data, and it’s giving early adopters an edge.

The “cognitive supply chain” is 100% digital, turning assets and knowledge into a flow of information that runs from one end to another, and enabling managers to use Six Sigma techniques to predict bottlenecks and failure points before they happen.

About the Author
Rob Stevens, Tive CRO & Co-Founder
Before joining Tive, Rob spent almost twenty years working in sales, marketing and business development for high-tech start-ups including FreeMarkets, Kiva Systems, Backupify and GrabCAD. Rob holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.

White Paper

Download the Paper

Beyond Visibility: How to Build a Supply Chain That Thinks
In this white paper, we’ll explain how the combination of “big data” processing and better tracking devices can be used not only to monitor supply chain activity but to identify and eliminate waste, pinpoint delivery times and predict failure points. Download Now!


Article Topics
Trends   Supply Chain   Supply Chain Optimization   RFID   Supply Chain Visibility   All topics


Comments
Be the first to post a comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Login.

 
Latest Supply Chain News
ONE Blockchain Platform to Provide Enhanced Transparency and Security for Supply Chains
One Network Enterprises new blockchain platform solution mitigates threats in pharmaceutical authentication & serialization, food safety, and recall management.

One Network Earns Top Billing in Nucleus Research’s Annual Control Tower Value Matrix
Complimentary report from Nucleus Research recognizes One Network's real-time value network for control tower capabilities and for helping companies gain end-to-end visibility.

Amazon’s Ever-Increasing Ecommerce Shipping Costs
Amazon is growing fast, and so are the costs of getting people the products they order from the online ecommerce retailer, and as time goes by, Amazon has to spend a higher percentage of its net sales…

Navigating Ecommerce with Your Existing Supply Chain Relationships & Capabilities
The rules for success in e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment are still being written, however, you can minimize the risks and costs of scaling your operations, and get to market faster, by leveraging…


 

24|7 Pro Team

The 24|7 Team is your direct pipeline to solutions for your business challenges. It's your opportunity to have supply chain and logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information.

The 24|7 Team will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

1
  Choose a topic for your RFP

Transportation RFP/RFI

The Transportation RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your transportation challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific transportation challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect software or system can be an indomitable challenge. Using this transportation/TMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

Warehouse/DC Management RFP/RFI

The Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your WMS challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific WMS challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect WMS solution can be an indomitable challenge. Using this WMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your WMS Request for Proposal list.

Supply Chain RFP/RFI

The Supply Chain RFP is your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and receive free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information. It simplifies finding a pool of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list. The companies in the Logistics Planner have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up, and your request is totally confidential.

Software/Technology RFP/RFI

The Software/Technology is your direct pipeline to solutions for your logistics information technology challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific technology challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request. Whether it's WMS, TMS, Mobile or Cloud, our pros can help.

The companies listed below have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up. Your request is totally confidential.

Executive Education RFI

The Logistics and Supply Chain Education RFI can help you identify the schools, coursework, continuing education, distance learning and certification opportunities available from leading logistics educational institutions.

Upgrade and improve your logistics and supply chain skillsets. Whatever route you choose—advanced degree, executive education, certification or distance learning—the time and money you invest in your education today can pay off in continued career success tomorrow. Contact leading universities and professional institutions for the information you need to prepare for the future.

Third Party Logistics RFP/RFI

This 3PL Request for Proposal (RFP)/Request for Information (RFI) can help you find the 3PL and 4PL providers that can meet your specific 3PL service challenges and needs. The 3PL companies below will provide free, no-obligation third-party logistics advice, solutions, and information.

Ask your 3PL questions, you'll get answers. Simply complete the information, and detail your 3PL challenges. Then, check off the third-party logistics companies that you want to review your request.

1. Choose an RFI topic.
2. Enter your contact information and challenge.
3. Select companies and optional categories.
4. Submit.


2

Your Information



Your Challenge, Problem or Request *

3

Select Transportation Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Kuebix
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • One Network
  • Pitt Ohio
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SEKO Logistics
  • SMC3


Select Relevent Categories

  • Air Freight
  • Intermodal
  • Motor Freight
  • Ocean Freight
  • Rail Freight
  • TMS

Select Warehouse/DC Management Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Kuebix
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Swisslog
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Auto ID & Data Capture
  • Automation
  • Conveyors & Sortation
  • Lift Trucks
  • Packaging & Labeling
  • Pallets & Containers
  • Shelving & Racking
  • WMS

Select Supply Chain Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • 3PL Central
  • Amber Road
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • APICS
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Global Trade
  • Inventory Management
  • Risk Management
  • Sustainability

Select Software/Technology Companies

  • Select All

  • 3GTMS
  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • BluJay Solutions
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Swisslog Logistics
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • ERP
  • Sales & Operations
  • Sourcing/Procurement
  • Optimization
  • Transportation Mgmt
  • Warehouse Mgmt

Select Executive Education Choices

  • Select All

  • Graduate Courses
  • Online/Distance
  • Executive Education
  • Certifications
  • Undergraduate
  • Seminars
  • Associations
  • Conferences
  • Tradeshows


Select Third Party Logistics Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Purolator
  • SEKO Logistics
  • Westfalia Technologies


4
 

24|7 Company Profiles