Radio frequency identification (RFID) is popping up everywhere these days, thanks to solution providers hoping to capitalize on the situation that much like Y2K, RFID technology is going to happen whether companies are prepared or not. At Manugistics Group Inc.’s (www.manugistics.com) recent user conference, it became apparent that the company sees RFID interface enhancements as a definite plus to selling its supply chain planning and demand management software suites, particularly given the company’s strengths within the consumer packaged goods and retail industries.
“The success of various RFID pilot [implementations], the mandate for its use among suppliers to Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense, and increasing interest from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture leave little doubt that RFID technologies will have significant impact on demand and supply chain management strategies,” says Jeff Holmes, Manugistics’ executive vice president for government, aerospace and defense sectors. RFID chips increase essential visibility and control for complex decision support with real-time data on supply chain and market conditions, as well as security, Holmes observes.
At the show, Manugistics announced several RFID-enabled applications within its web-based Series 7 suites:
Chris Verheuvel, Manugistics’ vice president in solutions consulting, urges supply chain practitioners to “first focus on the value to your company — what’s it worth to get RFID-enabled data and leverage that information? How long do your products sit in a supply chain before they’re sold to a consumer? What is your true transportation lead time, and how good are you at service levels?”
Logistics professionals need to start asking those questions, if they haven’t already, Verheuvel says, “because RFID tags can provide a ton of data that can drive a lot of value.” This RFID-derived information becomes all the more valuable when coupled in a collaborative relationship between retailers and suppliers, he says, noting, “The more information you share, the more insights you’ll have. That means better products in the market and a more responsive supply chain.”
Manugistics also announced more traditional upgrades to its transportation software, including enhancements in its upcoming February release that will allow users to define key exceptions they want to track — from order creation through delivery and payment — and then apply identified resolution paths via use of logistics-savvy web services.
With companies seeking more value out of their transportation, many shippers are turning to strategic sourcing, moving beyond daily planning and execution with transportation management systems, says Mike Mulqueen, Manugistics’ senior product manager. He’s seeing an increased interest in inbound freight collaboration and moving from a prepaid to a collect environment. LT