Tracking Technologies with EDI and Electronic Commerce

 electronic data interchange
Using electronic data interchange- Tracking materials as they move from one company to another and as they move within the company has always been a troublesome task. Companies have been using optical scanners and bar codes for many years to help track the movement of materials. In many industries, use electronic data interchange ( EDI ) the integration of bar coding and EDI has become prevalent. Figure shows a typical bar-coded shipping label that is used in the auto industry.

EDI, the first example of electronic commerce, was first developed by freight companies to reduce the paperwork burden of processing repetitive transactions. 

The spread of electronic data interchange to virtually all large companies over the past 30 years has led smaller businesses to seek an affordable way to participate in EDI

The Internet is now providing the inexpensive communications channel that EDI lacked for so many years and is allowing smaller companies to participate in Internet electronic data interchange.

Each bar-coded element is a representation of a segment in the ASC X12 transaction set number 856, Ship Notice\/ Manifest.

 electronic data interchange ( EDI )
If you examine the figure carefully, you can see that five of the 856 transaction set's segments have been bar-coded (including Part Number, Quantity Shipped, Purchase Order Number, Serial Number, and Packing List Number).

These bar codes allow companies to scan materials as they are received and to track them as they move from the materials warehouse into production. Companies can use this bar-coded information along with information from their electronic data interchange systems to manage inventory flows and forecast materials needs across their supply chains.

In the second wave of electronic commerce, companies are integrating new types of tracking
into their Internet-based materials-tracking systems. 

The most promising technology now being used is radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs), which are small chips that use radio transmissions to track inventory. 

RFID technology has existed for many years, but until recently, it required each RFID to have its own power supply (usually a battery).

The new development in RFID technology is the passive RFID tag, which can be made cheaply and in very small sizes. A passive RFID tag does not need a power source. 

It receives a radio signal from a nearby transmitter and extracts a tiny amount of power from that signal.
It uses the power it extracts to send a signal back to the transmitter. That signal includes information about the inventory item to which the RFID tag has been affixed. RFID tags are small enough to be installed on the face of credit cards or sewn into clothing items. 

In 2003, Wal-Mart began testing the use of RFID tags on its merchandise for inventory tracking and control. You can learn more about current developments in this technology by visiting the RFID Journal online. Figure shows a typical passive RFID tag.

electronic data interchange (RFID )

Source: selectmen

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