Perfect (radio-) wave/Efficiency and transparency

Gerry Weber does it, Adidas and C&A, too. These three and many other companies trust in RFID technology. This technology seems to provide a magical recipe: improvement in process efficiency and stock transparency, reduction of waiting times and ensuring anti-theft protection. The Radio Frequency Identification, in German Objektidentification mit Hilfe von Funkwellen, seems to offer great benefits only. From improvements in the industrial production, through logistics and trade business as well as retailing, and ultimately to the customer who feels more satisfied than ever due to improved availabilities.

Fashion groups like Gerry Weber or Adidas work with RFID lags right from the start. At an early level of clothing production, these data carriers are being integrated into the washing instructions and are being labelled with data from the production site. Simultaneously, the RFID labels are sending data, as a basis for later identifications and traceability, to a central host system.

But before the process of ensuring more transparency and efficiency gets started, a so-called traceability software has to be installed on reading devices or servers in the production and logistic sites, as well as the shops. The RFID micro-chips can either be sewn into the garment or they can be integrated into the washing instruction label. Smartly, RFID tags are even suitable for washing.

Entire pallets with cartons can be scanned within seconds

Incoming and outgoing products can be handled faster and easier. Highly demanded products can be identified immediately. Re-orders can be placed on time, bottlenecks can be easily avoided. Common end-of-the-year inventory counts will become unnecessary. At any time, products in stock can be determined flawlessly via RFID labels. Operating without visual contact is made possible, a whole palette of cartons can easily and rapidly be scanned by a reading device, and even transferred to a central host system.

Furthermore, RFID chips can function as anti-theft protection. Automatically, the garment has an anti-theft device. Through the actual payment process, the label is being derecognized. Once the customer purchased such clothes, one can remove the RFID chip, which is mostly a clearly distinguishable part of the washing instruction label. RFID also enables the identification and strengthening of the brand. Whether a piece is a design or a fake product can be easily identified.

Investments with rapid returns

More than 26 million Gerry Weber clothes are tagged with RFID chips every year. For the installation of the entire RFID system, the fashion group based in Halle / Westphalia invested EUR 2.7 million within five years. According to the May issue of the specialised magazine „RFID im Blick“, fashion retailer Adler Modemärkte invested EUR 8 million, but expects the amortisation this year already plus an Ebitda increase by up to EUR 4.5 million.

But attention: One man’s pleasure can be another man’s pain. Gerry Weber, Adidas and Co. clearly benefit from the RFID technology. As well as the Vienna fire fighters do as they use it for the easy organisation and handling of the professional washing, caring and repairing service in their new protection clothing. But as soon as a client forgets to remove the RFID label before wearing the new fashion item or the trendy World Champion Soccer Shirt, theoretically, one can be scanned and identified everywhere. After all, many electronic locking- and payment-systems work on radio frequency. In the future, companies benefitting from RFID technology will surely have to face questions on data protection of critical consumers.

Photo: Easy scannning thanks to readers. Source: Adler

Kirsten Rein

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