RFID Arena


Data Collection Trends In Logistics and Manufacturing

Internet of Things, Big Data, Industrial Internet. These are prevalent themes which can be applied in different business areas. How are these three utilized in Logistics and Manufacturing, and what is the role of RFID in these trends?

We interviewed Atte Kaskihalme, Business Area Director (Logistics & Manufacturing) at Nordic ID. He has vast experience in RFID and he has been able to observe the development of these trends in the business area.

All the three headlined trends relate to gathering data, and more importantly, utilizing the gathered data in business decisions. Data collection enables discerning and predicting customer trends, forecasting repair times, enhancing operations in production, etc. Big Data of the items is collected in different ways, and the role of RFID is to act as a source of identification and a way of delivering information. RFID is an exceptional method of collecting data. Unlike barcode, it provides data on item level. The name "Big Data" refers to the massive size of the information gathered where Internet of Things refers to physical objects connected to technology in order to collect data. Industrial Internet is a combination of these two driving already today standards of data communication.

"A general assumption with Big Data collection is that every single data collection device has an own IP address. This is not true - 80 percent of this collection is related to objects without an IP address. In the 20 percent, the objects are connected in the IP network in order to send the gathered data for analysis. To be able to do so, these objects more or less have for example an IP or Bluetooth address which enables networking. For the remaining 80 percent, RFID based data collection of item level data, location and sensor data is a right solution where the network connected RFID readers gather the data from the items," states Kaskihalme.

The most successful enterprises are already taking the advantage of gathering Big Data. There are good examples of how Big Data collection can help companies in improving their main critical processes and thus business. Now we take a look at those in logistics, asset management and healthcare.

Article _image _logman

Parcel logistics - UPS

Several researches show that in today's life, a business's number of customers is directly correlated with the level of importance in utilizing Big Data. For example, United Parcel Service (UPS) makes more than 16 million shipments to over 8.8 million customers internationally. The number of tracking requests on a daily basis is 39.5 million on average. The company collects data at every possible moment. Collecting Big Data is important for parcel logistics as collecting data via the whole operation and about parcel movements is crucial in transport optimization.

Asset management - London Underground

Accenture and GE have researched the massive potential of Internet of Things in asset maintenance. In their opinion, Industrial Internet enables collecting data via technology (including RFID) and uses the data for managing operations. Their research showed that predictive maintenance of assets can save up to 12% of scheduled repairs, which leads to a 30% reduction in maintenance costs and also to a 70% cut in downtime from equipment breakdowns.

"We have seen similar results with our references. For example, London Underground is using RFID at their escalator maintenance," continues Kaskihalme. "With RFID, they are able to avoid 45 minutes of out-of-service when the RFID based system identifies the individual steps that need maintenance. The data is collected with field engineer´s mobile RFID reader and updated online in the maintenance system. The service process is not only fast but very accurate."

Another example in asset management is a water supply company who combines data from tags with sensors attached in their pipes with business systems. Through RFID, they are able to monitor the condition of pipes and predict the cost, risks and asset performance. Moreover, they report improvement in customer service and saving money due to RFID.


In patient safety, it is vital to collect as much data as possible. Big Data here refers to collecting patient related data into one central place and making conclusions of the patient health. "With RFID, this is still taking baby steps. Today, personal health and technology are connected to each other outside the hospital for example via bracelets monitoring heartbeat and other body functions. This is a pre-stage for Big Data collection in healthcare, and it could be utilized even further. Maybe one day RFID plays a major role in systems where hospitals are getting up-to-date information on patient health and changes with a minimal effort by the patient itself," predicts Kaskihalme.

As a summary, Industrial Internet is seen as very important. As data collection becomes automated, the amount of information constantly multiplies and becomes also more complex. This kind of raw data is difficult to handle and thus it is forecasted that in the future also reader systems, such as RFID data collection networks, will become more intelligent providing pre-processed data for the business analysis and thus the decision making will be faster and more accurate than ever.

Atte _small3

Atte Kaskihalme, Business Area Director (Logistics & Manufacturing)

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