Made to Measure
Tracking advances in RFID technology
FOLIO magazine is to the publishing world what QP is to quality professionals, and as a writer and editor I always look forward to FOLIO’s informative, industry focused articles.
This month, my two chosen vocations—journalism and quality—converged in the coverage of one hot topic, RFID (radio frequency identification), which involves the use of tiny computer-chip enabled transmitters that serve a similar function to barcodes, but they don’t need to be scanned.
FOLIO’s article, “Research Firm to Begin Testing Waiting Room Readership with RFID,” details a specific use of the technology: One company plans to begin using RFID tags embedded in magazine covers to track readership habits in office waiting rooms. While the relative cost to do this is still high ($20 per unit), its use in this way portends what’s to come in reaching new levels of supply chain efficiency—and producing a wealth of reliable, accurate data. Read the full article at www.foliomag.com/2007/
QP’s own article on the topic, “Tracking Efficiency,” p. 20, offers a high level look at how RFID is joining barcoding as the industry standard for inventory tracking. While the two are both used widely, it seems RFID’s benefits will soon outweigh its costs.
The potential uses of RFID are seemingly endless: from serving as “green cards” for immigrants to implants that alert emergency care professionals to a patient’s allergy. Further, RFID technology promises to be a major boon to business efficiency by producing reliable data via detailed records on how products move through the supply chain.
Already, the U.S. Department of Defense, Wal-Mart and other big corporate players are paving the way to its widespread use by requiring their vendors to adopt RFID technology. As momentum builds, its use will ensure greater reliability—and measurability—of key business processes.
What could be a bigger breath of fresh air than a story about a company that is using basic quality principles to build better products?
“Good Vibrations,” p. 25, is one such story. The article explains how California based Santa Cruz Guitar Co. uses Deming’s 14 points to build some of the finest quality guitars while generating high levels of employee satisfaction. What’s noteworthy is that its staff members didn’t know they were doing it—it took an outsider’s view to recognize the use of Deming’s principles, and that observation inspired the author to pen his article on the topic.
What struck me is what would be possible if companies—even the very good ones—knowingly embraced quality and its principles. There’s always room for improvement.