On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My Boss Gave to Me: 5 RFID Tags

12 days - 5 RFID tags... 4 Data Science Boot Camp Graduates
... 3 Used 3D Printers
... 2 Mindless Co-bots
... And Another Vendor Pitching IIoT

OK, boss, so what am I going to do with these? Clearly everyone knows what RFID tags are good for, but they really need to be implemented at scale throughout the supply chain to really make a difference. One of our partners at Parsable said they have a customer that gave them the requirement that his team should not have to enter any data at all. While that sounds good, this executive clearly hadn’t thought it through. If you could get all of your suppliers to tag the parts you assemble into your final product like this infographic below, you could have certainty that all the right parts (at least the ones capable of attaching to a tag) ended up in the right place and in your final product. 

Blueprint for the Factory of the Future Infographic

That’s a good result, but what about the human action? If you don’t want to collect anything at all how will you really understand human performance? Sure, there is a promise in the future that cameras and AI might be accurate enough to precisely measure motion and intuit data on human action, like the effort someone is exerting assembling something. That definitely sounds good, but let’s see if the collective brain trust of the world can get a driverless car on the road first that doesn’t jerkily pump its breaks every time it gets confused.

There is also the promise of connected tools. We have been perfecting this in our lab. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if the Milwaukee tools spoke the same language as the Bosch ones? Fat chance of that. We’ll have to solve that with gateways that speak lots of languages. And probably literally the last mile is keeping those tools online. Bluetooth? Don’t walk away from your workstation because it has really short range. Wi-fi? Maybe, but as the only company to really figure out seamless online/offline for mobile enterprise applications in factories and in the field, we can tell you this is not trivial at all. Every Rube Goldberg contraption that passes as a factory line is a wi-fi trap. An average size warehouse requires up to 200 access points to maintain consistent wi-fi across a plant. Thankfully, this is now relatively cheap to do, but it does require some organizational will and ingenuity.

Our perspective on the promise of completely connected everything is a great idea and we should strive for it, but let’s not forget the low-hanging fruit begging us to make giant strides right now. Your folks are in the plant trying to execute a changeover for the latest that product marketing dreamed up (mea culpa), and a stack of RFID tags isn’t going to help them. What will is pushing enterprise-class process execution, instruction, collaboration, and data collection into their hands and their pockets.

So, in summary, love you RFID and the promise you offer, but we have some other fish to fry that you can’t help us with (and it isn’t even Friday).

Boss, I am counting on you to do better on day six.