For Small-to-Medium Sized Warehouses, Slap-and-Ship May Be RFID Solution

April 21, 2009

For many small-to-medium sized warehouses and distribution centers, deploying a full-scale RFID system is too expensive and lengthy a process to be feasible, even if the technology is intriguing. And other suppliers, because of mandates set forth by the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart, have no choice but to implement RFID, regardless of their warehouses’ sizes. The solution for such suppliers could be what’s commonly referred to as “slap-and-ship.”

Slap-and-ship applications involve placing an RFID tag or smart label on items, cases, or pallets before shipping them to the customer. Unlike traditional RFID systems, slap-and-ship solutions require no large capital expenditure or software integration with existing warehouse management systems. Instead, the entire process consists of encoding tags with data and then applying those tags to the items, cases, or pallets. The only pieces of equipment needed are RFID printers, RFID smart labels, and-optionally-RFID readers.

RFID printers, such as those in Zebra’s Gen 2 UHF printer line, are the most common method for encoding data on the RFID smart labels. The printers automatically test the tags and write the data prior to printing. Workers can also use an RFID reader to encode the labels once they are affixed to cases or pallets, but this generally takes more time and power. Then, after being encoded, tags can be attached to cases and pallets either manually or automatically, with an automatic tag applicator.

As a small-to-medium sized warehouse or distribution center, how does this solution appeal to you?