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In discussing technology solutions for inventory management, managers have been known to claim they are installing new technology in their facilities, referring to bar-coding systems and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. In reality, bar coding was invented in 1948 and first used commercially in the railroad industry and grocery business in 1967.
The biggest challenges with these technologies relate to implementation, use and management. Properly handled, though, bar coding and RFID enable managers to improve existing business processes by collecting much more relevant data and having access to it in real time.
With properly allocated time and resources, bar coding and RFID systems have resulted in numerous examples of continuous improvement. Ultimately though, it comes down to the business processes. If managers do not have solid processes in place, implementing bar coding and RFID will only facilitate the mistakes.
Andrew Gager is director of consulting services with Marshall Institute, a consulting and training company that helps clients improve the maintenance contribution to organizational performance.
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