Supply Chain Trends Part 2

As I wrote yesterday in my post Supply Chain Trends, the top ten trends and technologies changing the supply chain are:

1. Comprehensive connectivity- 802.11 wireless LAN, Bluetooth, cellular networks

2. Voice and GPS integrated into rugged computers

3. Speech recognition

4. Digital imaging

5. Portable printing

6. 2D and other barcode advances

7. RFID

8. RTLS

9. Remote management

10. Wireless and device security

We’ve already taken a closer look at the first five trends/technologies, now let’s see how the last five (6-10) can improve your supply chain.

2D Barcodes– new technology advances are improving the reading ability of 2D barcodes, making them more desirable in many environments.  With the release of Intermec’s EX25 auto-focus scan engine, users can now scan both linear barcodes and 2D symbols.  In fact, it was barcode scanners not being able to read both types of symbols that kept many away from 2D barcodes.

RFID– vehicle mounted (like the one at left)and handheld RFID readers are increasing the flexibility of RFID systems.  Instead of the large investment to add stationary readers to every dock door, workers can travel throughout the facility with a mobile reader.  Errors can also be reduced because workers have the information right in their hands.

Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)– now you can turn your wireless local area network into an asset tracking system.  Any device connected to a wireless LAN can be tracked, located and monitored.  You can also equip other expensive or important assets with RTLS for real-time monitoring.

Remote Management– powerful remote management systems are now created to specifically configure, monitor and trouble shoot your special devices.  Barcode readers, barcode printers, RFID equipment, rugged computers and other data collection equipment can now be managed by a system developed specifically for them.  Device management software will provide real-time monitoring of all your important and specialized equipment.

Wireless Security– mobile computers and data collection equipment support the leading securities, such as 802.11i, 802.1x, WPA, WPA2, LEAP, FIPS-140, RADIUS servers, VPNs and more.

These different technologies are changing supply chains and I think it’s really important that companies keep up with the latest trends to stay on top.  I know a lot of the top ten deserve a more detailed description of their benefits and uses.  If you have a certain top ten you’d like me to expand on please feel free to contact me at ehodges@barcode.com.