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Harley-Davidson Essay

Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages for Harley-Davidson of replacing scanners and bar codes with RFID. Compare and contrast the issues of Wal-Mart when they tried to implement RFID in their supply chain. Outline the issues Harley-Davidson will face when they begin using RFID. Develop and present an approximate timetable for the adoption of RFID with specific recommendations about where Harley-Davidson should implement it first. Some of the advantages of using RFID over scanners and bar code include Inventory efficiency, return on investment, and vulnerability to damage minimized.

Because line-of-sight is not required to read RFID tags, inventory can be performed in a highly efficient method. For example, pallets in a warehouse can be read, inventoried, and their location can be determined no matter where the tag is placed on the pallet. This is because the radio waves from the reader are strong enough for the tag to respond regardless of location. Though the cost may be high at first, the total cost of ownership should go down over the years and provide a good return on investment, if the implementation provides a significant method to improve business processes.

Barcodes can be damaged in many ways. Although, 2D barcode types can be read even when up to 40% of the barcode is damaged. The disadvantages of RFID are dead areas, orientation problems, security concerns, ghost tags, unread tags, and proximity issues. RFID works similar to the way a cell phone or wireless network does. Like these technologies, there may be certain areas that have weaker signals or interference. In addition, poor read rates are sometimes a problem when the tag is rotated into an orientation that does not align well with the reader.

These issues are usually minimized by proper implementation of multiple readers and use of tags with multiple axis antennas. Because RFID is not a line-of-sight technology like barcoding, new security issues could develop. For example, a competitor could set up a high-gain directional antenna to scan tags in trucks going to a warehouse. From the data received, this competitor could determine flow rates of various products. Additionally, when RFID is used for high-security operations such as payment methods, fraud is always a possibility.

In rare cases, if multiple tags are read at the same time the reader will sometimes read a tag that does not exist. Therefore, some type of read verification, such as a CRC, should be implemented in either the tag, the reader or the data read from the tag. When reading multiple tags at the same time, it is possible that some tags will not be read and there is no sure method of determining this when the objects are not in sight. This problem does not occur with barcodes, because when the barcode is scanned, it is instantly verified when read by a beep from the scanner and the data can then be entered manually if it does not scan.

RFID tags cannot be read well when placed on metal or liquid objects or when these objects are between the reader and the tag. Nearly any object that is between the reader and the tag reduces the distance the tag can be read from. The problem that will likely arise for Harley-Davidson will be complaints about price from suppliers being forced spend money to implement the RFID. The IT department will be in an uproar because they’ll have insurmountable amount of infrastructure issues that will arise, security and management.

This is exactly what happened to Wal-Mart. The major issues that will arise will be software systems, data management, and device management. Most software systems aren’t designed for RFID. How will they know if an item is stolen or just miss placed? How do you manage this? How will the RFID devices work around other RFID devices? Haley-Davidson should first install the RFID on each individual part, so that you will have easy access in your database, then I would place them on each pallet.


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