Can RFID Bring Manufacturing Back to the U.S?
“American Manufacturing Has Declined More Than Most Experts Have Thought.” That was the headline of a March 28 Huffington Post article. Manufacturing is in the spotlight now that Washington politicians are trying to find ways to bring the trade back from overseas and make the United States a manufacturing hub once again. The top most common reasons that businesses sent their manufacturing outside the U.S. during the last decade were high labor costs and high corporate taxes. The quest for viable margins prompted the mass exodus.
The retail industry was an early adopter of RFID because the benefits to all aspects of the supply chain were abundantly clear. Supply chain efficiency has a tremendous impact on manufacturing margins, which makes RFID an easy bet for this industry as well.
We all know that RFID can be used in many ways to create more efficient processes which leads to lower costs and stronger bottom lines. In manufacturing and distribution environments, the implementation of RFID can reduce labor costs by reducing the workforce needed for inventory management, among other things. RFID can also store all of the history associated with a product, which helps minimize support warranties and optimize recall processes. While we don’t know yet if RFID can help reduce government imposed taxes, the benefits that RFID delivers can certainly help offset those taxes. Benefits include: increased throughput and productivity; shorter order cycles; faster shipping; more efficient inventory management; increased profit margins and better customer service.
It’s clear why manufacturers are looking to RFID to help them run more efficient operations that minimize production down time, optimize material and parts inventories and improve labor output. Of course we understand that the manufacturing companies are working with restricted budgets these days, which is another reason why RFID is a prime technology to for this market. By applying RFID incrementally across a plant floor, manufacturers can easily integrate the data captured by RFID, without disruption, into the existing infrastructure and processes.
The newly acquired, real-time visibility into the supply chain can yield tangible benefits almost immediately by letting manufacturers make more informed decisions and minimize costly errors. Could RFID in the manufacturing supply chain be just what the doctor ordered? It seems too good to be true that implementing a low cost, highly effective technology could bring an entire industry back from the brink of extinction; at least extinction in the United States. But if there was one technology that could do that, it’s no surprise that it would be RFID.
We’re not the only ones who recognize the critical role RFID can play in breathing life into manufacturing. The recentl RFID Journal LIVE! conference ran a track dedicated to Manufacturing and Operational Efficiency. Companies like Deere & Co., Boeing and Mitsubishi shared their compelling success stories. Hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit and put the U.S. back on the manufacturing map.
If you have an RFID manufacturing success story you’d like to share, please tell us about it.