Food is essential for life, from basic sustenance to enjoying the delicious flavors of your favorite snacks. Industries to manufacture these products does so on a massive scale, as you can judge by the sheer volume of brands and items available in almost every shop around you. In such large industries, it can become difficult to manage operations, due to the sheer volume of products. That is where the integration of RFID in Food Manufacturing Businesses comes into play.
This technology allows for significant improvement in various operations throughout this industry. And today, we will check them out.
Introduction to Radio Frequency Identification Technology
Also called RFID in short, this technology works by communicating information wirelessly with the help of radio signals of different frequencies. This technology works by setting up a system of tags, readers, and antennas. This system is connected to a central database/computer that uses RFID software to communicate with the system.
The tags are attached to items/assets that you want to monitor. These tags contain a microchip that is programmed with information about the item. On the other hand in the system, the antennas are connected to the readers, start broadcasting radio signals and form a field of influence around it. This is known as the interrogation zone. Once the tag enters this field; it can use inductive or radiative coupling to connect with the reader and start communicating.
How to Implement RFID Technology in Food Manufacturing?
Aside from the physical tasks like drilling and screwing mounts, it is quite easy to set up an RFID system. There are steps you can take to ensure that you set up an effective RF system inside your facility.
(A) Firstly, you need to develop a plan with an overlay of your facility. To know the areas, you need with RFID coverage, the size of the interrogation field, volume of items, etc.
(B) Secondly, you need to purchase the components that are best compatible with your plan and facility. Things like polarization of the antenna, range of the readers, etc., can affect the functioning of the system significantly. For example, in food manufacturing the packings are soft and thin, so it’s preferable for you to use wet inlays for tagging.
(C) Once you select the correct components, now you need to mount Readers at strategic points. This may require a little manual work like drilling holes to install mounts.
(D) Install the antennas at choke points and divide the facility into different sections, and connect the antennas to the readers.
(E) Then, connect the readers to the system using cables or through Wi-Fi networks, depending on your reader.
(F) Use the software and NFC reader to program the tags with the desired information and mount them on the items.
Applications of RFID in Food Manufacturing Businesses
Radio Frequency Identification systems allow users to enhance AIDC capabilities. This helps them in optimizing a variety of business operations and promotes the overall growth and productivity of the business. Let’s check out some major applications of such systems in food manufacturing.
Supply Chain Management
A supply chain refers to the entire journey of a product from the procurement of raw materials, to the delivery of the final product to the customers at the retail outfit. Managing such a vastly spread-out network can be very difficult, especially if done manually. With the integration of radio frequency technology, users can automate this entire operation. This not only improves the accuracy of such tasks but also saves costs by preventing the investment of additional resources to these tasks.
In addition to tracking and identification, modern tags also have several telemetry sensors featured on them that can calculate temperature, acceleration, movement, etc. These sensors allow the users to get a better insight into the condition of items by having a detailed information on the conditions the item is stored in. In industries like food, where these factors can heavily impact the usability & shelf-life of the products, these sensors work wonders.
Track Shelf Life and Viability
As mentioned above, these provide information like item group, name, date of manufacture, temperature, etc. With that, users/businesses can easily predict the remaining viability or shelf-life of particular items/batches. This prevents the movement of spoiled items further down the supply chain.
Item Identification & Tracking
The primary application of any such system is to provide improved asset identification & tracking solutions. By strategically placing readers & antennas, businesses can effectively divide their facilities into different sections based on interrogation fields. This can then provide real-time insight into the movement of items throughout the facility.
“Knowledge is Power”, is a quote that remains true throughout time. Even in the case of running a business, having data/information is essential. Users can get information like the demand for particular items and where these items are delivered to. This allows them to know market trends and the popularity of products based on factors like region, time of year, etc. By knowing all of this, the businesses can optimize their operations and even create customized marketing campaigns.
Benefits of RF-AIDC Solutions in Food Manufacturing
If you’ve reached this far, you know what an RF system is, and how to integrate it within food manufacturing. So, the obvious next step is for you to learn, why to implement this technology in your business. And for that, you need to check out the advantages of these systems.
The primary benefit of this technology is to provide an increased degree of automation in a variety of processes, at a negligible cost. For example, with the help of RFID, businesses can automate identification & tracking movement, automate the logistic network of an organization, etc. By providing automation these systems benefit businesses in two ways. Firstly, by providing greater accuracy. Secondly, by saving costs invested into such operations.
Improved Control Over Operations
By providing real-time and accurate monitoring capabilities, users have better control over tasks like controlling product volume, recalls, etc.
Controlling the inventory is an essential task for any business, this consists of monitoring, logging, and controlling the inflow and outflow of stocks within an organization. In manufacturing sectors, this has to do with keeping track of the available raw materials, manufactured goods, and other components. The problem with this rises with the increased flow of items. With the help of RFID, businesses can automate this process to an almost complete degree, saving a lot of time and cost.
Reduction in Loss/Wastage
Lastly, a big issue for businesses dealing with goods is the eventual loss of inventory/stock due to human errors, theft, and stock shrinkage. AIDC technology like RF, can have a significant impact on these issues. According to studies, these systems have been shown to reduce stock shrinkage by up to 85%.
Radio Frequency Identification technology has made a significant mark throughout the logistics and tracking market. They have revolutionized how businesses operate by providing cost reduction, accuracy, and improved insight at a very low cost.
In industries like food, these systems allow businesses to maintain the quality of their products and services. Allowing for better growth and profitability for the business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is the role of RFID in the agro-food sector?
Ans - The agro-food industry has good compatibility with the integration of RFID technology. This technology plays a major role in essential operations like supply chain management, telemetry reading, shipment tracking, etc.
Q2. How is RFID used in manufacturing?
Ans - In manufacturing, the primary use of this technology is in monitoring the production and assembly line. These systems allow users to closely monitor and automate the movement and availability of different components throughout the production line, from procurement of raw materials to assembling the final product.
Q3. How is RFID used in supermarkets?
Ans - Yes, this technology can be used in operations of all sizes and niches. Nowadays, supermarkets use inlays to tag items, for the purpose of inventory management, billing, and even security.