The use of bar codes and Radio Frequency identification has certainly had some positive and negative effects on basic logistics processes. Technology has greatly improved shipping, transportation, receiving and in-facility operations. While improvement in these basic logistics processes is welcome, it is important to note that the gains have been made at some cost.
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Through radio frequency identification can decode information faster than bar codes, both have the same effect on the delivery frequency (Holmes, 2001). The two technologies have tremendously improved the frequency of deliveries. With the technology in place, many stores are able to receive and clear more goods as compared to the manual system. Increased frequency of deliveries may, in the long run, improve income for a company using the system. The suppliers, for example, may make more profit owing to the improved movement of goods to the retailers. A retailer may also benefit from this when dealing with a commodity that moves fast.
Frequent deliveries directly affect store size. As the number of deliveries to a certain retailer or store increase so does the need for more storage space. Other than the increase in the storage space, a retail outlet may also increase in size. This has in the past lead to the emergence of superstores or retail outlets. Retail outlets have been able to expand their operations to various locations because of better delivery frequencies. Technology enables them to carry out these expansions without significantly increasing the workforce.
An increase in the frequency of deliveries and store size has had some negative effects on some firms. These systems favor stores or operators with very frequent deliveries. In a store with fewer deliveries, such technology may lead to undesirable effects. The stores with less frequent deliveries may find this system redundant. They may, in the long run, incur increased holding costs.
Bar codes and radio frequency identification have also made logistics processes faster and more accurate (McFarlane, 2009). When operations are faster an individual organization is able to cut costs. Cost reduction is crucial for any company to make a reasonable profit.
Bar codes and radio frequency identification have to lead to increased timeliness. This has been made possible through the attachment of unique identification numbers on product packages. This information is then transmitted so that the retailer has sufficient information about the shipment before its arrival. When the shipment arrives at the store the store scans it to obtain information on the source, contents, and cost of each item included in the shipment. Manual entry of such data would take a significant amount of time. The store, therefore, benefits from improved time utilization. Time saved can then be used to do other production activities.
Reduced costs have accompanying disadvantages. The technology significantly reduces the need for human labor. The adoption of this technology has, therefore, lead to the loss of some jobs. Clerks who previously entered data manually have been laid off.
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These technologies have a tendency to present the user with all data stored in it. This results in a user receiving less relevant data alongside the required data (Simchi-Levi, 1999, pp.85-179). Data presentation this way may also result in the erroneous entry of data when there is too much irrelevant data.
Bar codes and radio frequency identification, in general, have had more positive effects than negative effects on logistical processes. Logistics operations will continue to benefit in the future from advancements in these technologies.
Holmes, J. T. (2001). Bar codes lead to frequent deliveries and superstores. Rand Journal of Economics. Web.
McFarlane, D. & Sheffi, Y. (2009).The Impact of Automatic Identification on Supply Chain Operations. Web.
Simchi-Levi D., P. Kaminski and E. Simchi-Levi (1999). Designing and Managing the Supply Chain: Concepts, Strategies, and Case. NY: McGraw Hill.