As can be seen during the course of any industry conference, executives, program directors, and logistics managers continually explore new frontiers of Automatic Identification Technology (AIT)--assessing the latest tools to improve their asset visibility and operational efficiency and to cut costs. There is no "silver bullet," but a better understanding of how AIT is being deployed within the DOD supply chain will help them to better position their organization to build upon the lessons learned and prepare for further process improvement.
In late 2007, XIO Strategies (XIO) conducted an AIT-oriented survey across the DOD and supplier community to determine the prevalence, deployment needs, and future spending priorities in the supply chain arena. AIT refers to a suite of enabling technologies used by the DOD, commercial enterprises, and other organizations to facilitate streamlined data processes through electronic data capture. Some of these technologies, like barcodes, have been around for 30 years or more; others, such as passive RFID, are relatively new. For this survey, XIO defined AIT to include:
* Active RFID (aRFID)
* Contact Memory Buttons (CMB)
* Item Unique Identification (IUID/UID)
* Optical Memory Cards (OMC)
* Passive RFID (pRFID)
* Smart Cards
Each has been defined by DOD as being either a primary or supporting AIT in the DOD supply chain. Traditional linear barcodes are well established and the survey did not include them in order to highlight newer technologies.
Once results were tallied, 42% of the survey respondents were from within the DOD or its direct contractor or supplier organizations, with an additional 29% from related Manufacturing or Transportation/Logistics industries. Remaining respondents generally identified themselves as Systems Integrators or Consultants. Additionally, 77% are currently in executive-or management-level positions, and more than half were from organizations with more than 2500 employees.
In order to structure the questions and the resulting data, XIO divided the supply chain into the following distinct operational nodes or functions: Receiving, Manufacturing/Production, Inventory Management, Shipping/Transportation, Customer Delivery, Retail, and Maintenance/Repair.
AIT MEDIA IN USE
Respondents were first asked to identify which of the technologies were currently in use in their organizational supply chain (See Figure 1). IUID, pRFID, and aRFID were the most often used...