The Networked RFID Systems in Product Recovery Management



RFID Technology has generated enormous interest in exploring its potential benefits in managing the flow of products and associated information throughout product lifecycle. One of the possible benefits of such Networked RFID system is in enhancing product recovery operations. Product recovery management is characterised by a high level of uncertainty in product returns flow in terms of time, quantity and quality due to the lack of information associated with such products. Although the research community has recognised that the lack of product information is a major hindrance in efficient product recovery, the link between the decisions taken during product recovery stages and the impact of enhanced information provided by such RFID systems on these decisions has not received much attention.


The purpose of our research is to provide a quantitative assessment of the value of information, enabled through the networked RFID systems, in product recovery management. In particular, we are examining the role of networked RFID systems in two separate areas within product recovery: Product recovery option decisions and product recovery inventory decisions


The Role of Networked RFID Systems in Product Recovery Option Decisions


- Ajith Kumar Parlikad -


There are several ways by which value can be recovered from a returned product  the product can be reused, remanufactured, refurbished, or recycled. The choice of appropriate product recovery decision depends upon the availability of relevant information to support the decision. At present, information gathering process is time consuming and labour intensive, which results in a high proportion of products being recycled or even discarded instead of being reused or remanufactured. The first part of our research is aimed at evaluating the impact of the ready availability of product information on the effectiveness of these decisions.


The Role of Networked RFID Systems in Product Recovery Inventory Decisions


- Anand Kulkarni -


Inventory decisions during product recovery stages are highly complex and are not identical in all product recovery scenarios. Different product recovery environments result in different factors being dominant and hence in different product recovery inventory decisions. For example, OEM owned product remanufacturing inventory decisions involve planning of disassemblies (when and how much to disassemble), returned products (when and how much to dispose excess inventory) and new parts (when and how much to procure/manufacture). While, third party owned product refurbishing inventory decisions involve prioritising high value and high quality products for refurbishing to recover as much value as possible from clients returned products. These product recovery inventory decisions are complicated due to the lack of information associated with returned products. The second part of this research evaluates the role of ready availability of product information in managing inventory during product recovery stages.


Auto-ID Center


The Auto-ID Center is a collaboration between six of the worlds leading universities  MIT US, Cambridge UK, St. Gallen Switzerland, Fudan China, Keio Japan and Adelaide Australia - and over 100 industrial sponsors. We are developing a low cost RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology and global standards, to track objects automatically and ubiquitously. The Centers vision is to enable automatic unique identification of an object without manual intervention using RFID, storing all the other information about the object in networked database, and ensuring reliable and timely update of information based on physical operations along the product lifecycle. Such Networked RFID system developed by the Auto-ID Center can enable a device to scan and identify a product and then, access crucial information about it in timely and accurate fashion, such as when and where it was made; where it was shipped from; and how it was handled; used and maintained. This will greatly enhance the quality of strategic, tactical as well as operational level decisions taken along the product lifecycle which are highly dependent upon the timeliness and accuracy of the information referred.