Shippers need to clean their data before adopting RFID

Shippers are ill prepared to handle to influx of data from RFID implementations, according to research from analyst firm VDC. In fact, many companies have yet to master data quality issues with currently installed bar code solutions.

In a recent survey, 58.9% of respondents say they are highly concerned about data quality, and 54.9% are highly concerned about data synchronization efforts. The survey was aimed at companies that are currently using, planning to install or evaluating RFID technology.

Many users are experiencing difficulty extending their RFID pilots -- especially in the consumer goods, pharmaceutical and military supply chains -- because data capture technologies, whether bar code or RFID, generate an unprecedented amount of information that their legacy systems cannot easily handle. They are finding that once RFID data is captured, the quality problems begin.

For example, some pilots are missing up to 30% or more of the transponders passing by readers, producing a high volume of false negatives. Meanwhile, readers keep reading several times a second, piling up questionable data. And these are only two examples of emerging issues with RFID data integration, collection, aggregation and filtration.

The method used to implement RFID systems can have a significant impact on these issues and the overall success of an RFID deployment. A quick fix (i.e., "slap-ship-and-stop" approach) may result in immediate installation and compliance, but will probably negatively impact the long-term benefits of an RFID system.

Respondents to VDC's survey contend that as the supply chain moves faster, deductions and penalties from retailers will be greater as they will require better synchronization and cleaner data. Without question, clean data and data synchronization is a top priority for any RFID implementation.

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