Before the onset of the recent pandemic, consumers worldwide were already increasingly more conscious of where their food comes from, prompting greater transparency in the supply chain of food companies. Amid the increased health concerns with lingering supply chain issues, securing customer confidence by assuring food safety, reliability and certification is more important than ever.
Recognising this need for improved supply chain traceability and visibility, businesses dealing with food products have begun adopting radio frequency identification (RFID) into their processes. RFID is essentially a system of technologies (mainly RFID tags and RFID readers) that work to transmit data efficiently via radio frequencies. It is used in various applications that demand real-time and highly accurate data to quickly identify and track tags that can be placed on just about anything, from cars to books and food products.
Although far from being a new solution, modern RFID is more than capable of addressing the unique challenges that beset today’s food industry, from optimising inventory and minimising waste to increasing its traceability. Below, we cover the benefits of RFID in food distribution and how they work.
RFID and Its Advantages in the Food Distribution Sector
Unlike conventional industries like retail, the food industry needs to be more transparent to consumers regarding their supply chain, given their growing demand to know where the source of the food is coming from. Their other concerns mainly revolve around food safety, inventory control, and regulation compliance. RFID technology is well-positioned to address all these concerns and more. Here are the main benefits of implementing it in the food distribution sector.
1. Greater traceability and identification accuracy
RFID allows for real-time identification of products so that businesses can always stay on top of their stock count and where they are in the supply chain. Traceability is essential for various reasons when it comes to food.
For instance, there may be a need to trace a food product’s source of pathway throughout the supply chain to verify it conforms to safety regulations. The information attached to a product’s RFID tag can include its weight, expiry date, lot numbers, other critical details like recommended storage temperature and the acceptable variance in the storage temperature throughout the transportation cycle.
2. Better productivity control
Inefficiencies may arise from the repetition of routine tasks often plague logistics operations. But with the implementation of RFID tool tracking, businesses can identify product batches that need to be moved to the exact location with automatic recording of changes in product location and quantity. This capability gives food businesses better control over their operational productivity, reduces costs, and adds value to their organisation.
3. Automatic inventory control
Inventory control is often a labour-intensive process that takes a lot of time in the shipping and receiving of food products. The loading and receiving activities, may have an impact on product safety and efficiency in the supply chain.
Tagging products with RFID labels and using an RFID inventory tracking system allows for automatic counting and recording, making real-time inventory management possible. Alerts can also be built into the system that ensures cold storage items are maintained under the right conditions and triggers that facilitate automated order placing.
4. Improved shipment efficiency
Using RFID technology in the food sector gives businesses greater control over their shipments, transportation as well as increase the efficiency within those processes. Growers and distribution centres can quickly prepare and dispatch shipments with fewer errors, in a shorter time. The odds of crossed or duplicated orders is also significantly reduced or eliminated thanks to real-time access to data on the products being transported.
5. Greater customer satisfaction
As with every business organisation, customer satisfaction is critical in the food sector. Food producers and logistics companies must meet the needs of their clients and, ultimately, the end consumers.
With the many advancements in RFID technology that has made it cheaper, smaller, and more durable, food businesses can utilise RFID tool tracking in many ways to improve operational efficiency, cut costs, and boost customer satisfaction. Moreover, another great thing about RFID is how it can easily integrate with other automated logistics and warehouse solutions, such as an existing warehouse management system, mobile computing system, and voice recognition system. Organisations that have not yet implemented these solutions will see a significant boost in efficiency by adopting them together with RFID.