Not too long ago, warehouses were drowning in paper. Pick tickets needed to be printed, inventory was recorded by hand. Today through the integration of modern warehouse management systems (WMS), wireless networking, bar codes, and RF scanners the amount of physical paper needed in contract warehousing has shrunk dramatically. RFID tags were once limited to tracking cattle. RF scanning allows for automatic inventory and tracking of the supply chain creating new efficiency in contract warehousing.
Tags, readers, and servers are the three different pieces of hardware used for scanning in contract warehousing. Tags can be active, semi-active, or passive. Passive tags backscatter the carrier signal received from a scanner. Active and semi-active tags use their own power supplies and are capable of sending more information than passive tags.
An RF scanner has two functions. The first function of a RF scanner is an interface that reads tags to retrieve identification. The second function is a communication interface to link back to the server. Quantities and location information is fed directly into the WMS via wireless networking. RF scanning usage in contract warehousing is growing because it improves accuracy in picking and reduces paper usage. RF scanners improve real-time inventory visibility.
The use of RF is growing significantly. Some see RF scanning eventually replacing the bar code. The new generation of RF scanners are more reliable. New international standards along with decreased costs of equipment is driving up the use of RFID.
If warehouses have yet to adopt FR Scanners, it is only a matter of time until they realize all the benefits to RF Scanning:
- No more mistakes by picking
- Any act directly controllable
- Realtime tracking and tracing
- Paperless environment
- Short payback 
All of these benefits lead to a more efficient warehouse and as a results the warehouses and the customers all get a better return on investment.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information go to the FW Warehousing website.