A nascent technology generating buzz in the warehouse community today would carry wireless tracking capabilities one step further, allowing cases and pallets to be located in the DC without having to scan them.
Each product would have its own unique code that would be automatically picked up by stationary readers. The readers could be located on the docks, or perhaps on the forklifts.
"If they can get it down to a product that is economically and operationally feasible, the technology has profound potential," Paul Widener, distribution systems manager at KVAT Food Stores, Abingdon, Va., said.
Many within the industry believe the impact on accuracy would be substantial as the human error factor is even further removed from the equation.
RFID technology is currently in use at some larger yards to keep track of trailers, although it is not yet available for use within the warehouse.
The Auto-ID Center, with labs in Cambridge, Mass., and at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, is at the forefront of RFID research. The supply chain application is one of many uses the center is working on.
Tig Gilliam, a partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, one of the center's sponsors, told SN that field tests at the pallet level are under way. Participants include Wal Mart, Bentonville, Ark. and other manufacturers.