Using RFID to Simplify the Packing Process
If you’ve purchased enough products over the years, at some point you’ve probably received a shipment or opened a package and discovered that a key part or user manual was missing. It’s a big frustration because it may delay assembly or operation, and it may even mean you have to return the item or wait until a replacement arrives.
This is exactly what was happening to the customers of one of our clients until we helped them implement radio frequency identification (RFID) to ensure the correct items were always packed in their shipments. In our client’s case, they were receiving calls from customers who did not receive the toolkit and user manual that was supposed to ship with the equipment. The user manual and toolkit come packaged in a separate insert that is supposed to be included in the box. However, that insert was inadvertently being left out of the final packing stage, which quickly became a quality control issue.
Fortunately, this client reached out to our team at Barcom for advice and to find out if there was an ideal tracking system they could use to solve the problem. Ultimately, they had several key questions they needed to answer:
- How do we verify that the toolkit and user manual insert is being included in each box?
- How do we verify that the correct insert is placed in the corresponding product box?
- How can we verify that the correct insert is included after a box is sealed for shipping?
- How do we capture all this information and marry it to the correct product data for archiving?
For this particular application, we recommended an RFID tracking solution. Here’s an overview of how the process would work:
- They would use a Zebra RFID printer to print RFID labels and attach them to the inserts containing the toolkit and user manual.
- They would use a fixed-mount RFID reader at the packing stage to automatically and remotely identify each tag and ensure it matched the corresponding product and box being packed and shipped.
- Since RFID tags can be read wirelessly and remotely, without having line-of-sight access to a barcode, they could verify that the inserts were present even if a box was already packed and sealed.
- Coupled with Barcom’s Transaction™ software, this solution enabled them to create labels, integrate with their devices and printers, and verify that the correct items were packed for each order shipped.
- If there were any exceptions and an insert was missing, the software would alert them to the problem so that they could address it before the shipment left their warehouse.
In very little time, we had the system up and running, workers and managers were trained on how to use it, and the client started using it actively for packing quality control. Once the system was in place and shipments began going out the door, customer complaints disappeared almost overnight. The correct inserts were getting into all the right boxes, and any shipments without the inserts were caught before they ever left the warehouse.
It was a huge win for the client and especially a big win for those end user customers who weren’t dealing with that all-too-familiar frustration of buying a product and then discovering something missing from the box.This was a relatively simple application and solution, but it’s a great example of how warehouses can use RFID to error-proof and quality check their packing processes. RFID has many other potential applications for ensuring accuracy and efficiency across all warehouse processes, from receiving and putaway to picking, packing, cross-docking, trailer loading, and shipping.
If you’re looking to verify correct packing or automatically track and trace parts, materials, finished goods, or virtually any asset in your plant or warehouse, contact us now to learn more about RFID and find out if this technology is right for your business needs.
4136B Jersey Pike, Chattanooga, TN 37421
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