By Larry Weeman
Q: What is RFID, and how can it benefit a tent rental operation?
A:RFID (radio-frequency identification) is a technology that consists of tags and readers used to identify and track unique objects. In the rental industry, the tracked objects are inventory items such as a tent fabric, a piece of linen, a chair and so on.
RFID has been used in the rental industry for many years, with initial adopters being mostly linen rental companies utilizing HF (high frequency) tags. Some of the benefits these companies have experienced include:
- improved quality of shipments by ensuring that the products delivered are both the correct products and the correct quantities of each product.
- reduced labor costs by eliminating the need to count and sort returned linens.
- improved inventory control by knowing when products have been cleaned and returned to available inventory.
- improved warehouse efficiency by stocking products in the correct location through the use of labeling.
- cost savings and customer satisfaction due to fewer shipping errors.
With newer tags utilizing UHF (ultra high frequency), the rental industry can expand the use of RFID to products such as tents, tables and chairs. The tags can be read from greater distances, allowing tags on larger items to be read as they pass through defined scanning areas on carts or other handling equipment.
Many tent companies add serial numbers to their tent tops and sidewall to keep track of which tops can be used with others, when the tops were purchased and the quality of the tops. When RFID tags are integrated with sales and inventory software, checks can be made to ensure the right tent tops and sidewalls are picked for the tents ordered by the customer. The person taking the order from the customer can identify the type, size and quality of the tent. The order system can determine the tent tops and sidewall to be picked based on the quality. The use of RFID will then ensure that the correct tent tops and sidewall were picked for the order. After the event, if any of the tent tops or sidewalls were not returned, inventory software alerts the rental company, allowing it to take immediate action to get the tent parts returned and ready for the next rental.
Tent companies that implement RFID can realize the same benefits as linen companies, along with the added benefit of managing the serialized tent inventory.