Selection and Justification of RFID in the Military

RFID in the Military

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Selection and Justification of RFID in the Military

Military Commanders and Leaders with responsibility for the many operational needs inherent in supply chains can gain the greatest benefit from determining the future use, selection and justification of RFID technology for use by the U.S. Army. The multifaceted missions of the U.S. Army require a continual evaluation of how to improve processes, systems and techniques to attain missions as cost-efficiently and effectively as possible through the use of proven new technologies. This requires the U.S. Army specifically and the Department of Defense (DoD) overall to continually seek out technologies that have the potential to augment existing systems and processes, making them more efficient, effective and measurable over time. One of the most complex set of processes and strategies the U.S. Army is expected to execute are their global supply chain operations. Given the magnitude of the missions of the U.S. Army, from delivering supplies and humanitarian aid to Haiti, Chile and throughout Africa to the ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, supply chain management and the many processes they encompass are essential to the U.S. Army’s global effectiveness and attainment of missions. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a component of the automatic identification (Auto-ID) series of technologies and as a result relies on a series of command sets and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) purpose-built to gain insights into the traceability of assets through supply chains and distribution channels (Wang, Wang, 2009). Auto-ID technologies rely on radio frequency waves to sense and track assets tagged with compatible labels. The implications for the U.S. Army of being able to manage their supply chain operations globally with insight into which assets are in transit to which locations for which specific mission can provide traceability and visibility not possible before. The intent of this analysis is to evaluate RFID for the U.S. Army’s use from a selection and justification standpoint. RFID, in the commercial sector, has proven to be a very effective technology for automating supply chains and increasing their performance. In the retailing industry specifically RFID is quickly emerging as s standard that Wal-Mart is endorsing and requiring its top 100 suppliers to support to increase the quality, speed, flexibility and cost of managing their supply chain (Goebel, Gunther, 2009). The U.S. Army will be able to likewise gain quality, speed, flexibility and cost advantages over time by adopting RFID into its supply chain processes, systems and strategies on a global scale.

Description of RFID and Related Technologies

Known most for its tags, RFID is actually an entire information system that captures, classifies and analyzes data captured from RFID tags throughout a distribution network. It is actually a system that incorporates radio frequency (RF) technology to enable communication between tags and antennas. The systems responsible for tracking the individual tags have databases that capture all tag data and asset movement over time (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009). . Figure 1 provides an overview of an RFID system architecture.

Figure 1: Overview of an RFID System Architecture

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

RFID systems are critically important for providing the necessary balanced scorecards of metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics necessary to keep supply chains on track to attain their objectives (AMR Research, 2004). In the case of the U.S. Army these metrics of performance need to be balanced to deliver quality and speed of deployment, in a cost-effective and flexible or agile manner. An analysis of the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics of performance that are most influenced by RFID technologies are defined later in this analysis. For the U.S. Army and their culture of measuring results for continual improvement, the quantified validation of RFID makes the calculation of Return on Investment (ROI) possible. It is an important point to keep in mind however that for ROI to be attained with an RFID information system there must be exceptional levels of integration across all components, and a defined strategy for how the tags will be used for attaining distribution, logistics, supply chain or maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) goals over time (Siedsma, 2007).

RFID tags vary significant in cost, size, complexity, capacity for storing data from the EPC command set, durability and transmit characteristics. While there is a wide variety of tags to two major classifications are Active and Passive. In the consumer products goods (CPG) and retailing industry a second type of Active tag has been under development called Active Backscatter (Carroll, Neu, 2009). Each of these types of tags is defined and their most common uses are discussed as well. By definition active RFID tags have their own power source, circuitry and radio transmitter and therefore are more expensive to produce than the Passive Backscatter tags which are reader powered. Active RFID tags that have their own power source and circuitry transmit their own radio signal and can be read at a range of up to 300 feet, while Active Backscatter tags use their power source or battery power to reflect a radio signal from a reader at between 10 and 50 feet. Passive Backscatter tags, unlike Active tags, are reader-powered as the frequency emitted from the reader is interpreted and sent back by this second class of tag. As a result the Passive Backscatter tags have a range of between 4 inches to 15 feet depending on the reader technology used. Figure 2, Anatomy of an RFID Tag illustrates how the various components of a tag are integrated together. Manufacturers of the RFID tags are differentiating their tags on the chipsets used, packaging for specific applications or uses, and the type of antenna used.

Figure 2: Anatomy of an RFID Tag

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

Clearly for the U.S. Army the ability to define specific DoD requirements for both Active and Passive tags, and can also defines the security specifications for each as well. These considerations will contribute to the performance of RFID-enabled distribution and logistics centers in the U.S. Army over time while also ensuring a very high level of security to the RFID-tagged assets and their locations throughout supply chains globally. Customization of RFID tag technology for the specific requirements of the U.S. Army and DoD will only serve to further increase the overall effectiveness and performance of this technology globally for the armed services.

Data capacity, read/write functionality, programmability and applications are primary differentiating features of RFID tags. An overview of the various types of RFID tags are shown in Table 1: Comparison Analysis of RFID Tags. For the U.S. Army the most essential tags would be the Active RFID tags as they contain the greatest amount of data and also have a dynamic data file associated with them.

Table 1: Comparison of RFID Tags

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

As the U.S. Army’s logistics and supply chain needs are diverse and would require tags from each of these classifications with the most critical being on the most valuable assets. The use of simple EAS-based RFID tags for example on daily rations and kits including replacement parts for vehicles would be suitable, versus using the full Backscatter Active technology for armament, field hospitals and other high value assets that would be necessary to track continually through supply chains (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009). The use of Backscatter Active tags would also be critically important for the traceability of medial supplies and needed relief kits for areas damaged by natural disaster including Haiti and Chile for example.

All RFID tags have the ability to be programmed, with the larger and more expensive Backscatter Active tags having the greatest versatility in terms of containing the EPC command set. Comparable to Electronic Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM) in computers and peripherals, the largest RFID tags have the ability to be programmed with commands and codes that define their status as an asset in a distribution network, ownership, current repair or readiness state, and even the service record of the asset. All of these factors taken together are what gives RFID as a technology significant versatility as a solution to complex logistics and supply chain problems. The extent of programmability of a given type of RFID tag is directly related to the strength of the signal required to transmit its contents. Typically the lower-end RFID tags do not require as much power as the variables and values as defined by the EPC code programming are minimal. Often tracked in these low-end RFID labels are the manufacturing date for a given consumer product, the date it shipped from the factory, which factory it left from, and the quality assurance and quality control audit data used for managing the production and distribution of it. Conversely the larger RFID tags with their own power sources often have up to 16MB of data in some instances, with the U.S. DoD using these to track shipping containers and their many contents as they are sent globally. The greater the functionality of the tag the higher the frequency required to communicate the contents of it, hence the spectrum of frequencies shown in Figure 3, Comparison of RFID Frequencies.

Figure 3: Comparison of RFID Frequencies

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

The greater the frequency of a given set of tags the greater the flexibility and the more data they are often capable of storing, capturing as they move through supply chains, and reporting back via readers. The DoD pioneered the use of very high frequency-based RFID tags on pallet containers as they were sent to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq war and for delivery to Afghanistan. Studies indicate that the ability to use the shipping container as a consumer good manufacturer would use a pallet and mix products in it to reflect the needs at the end of the supply chain yield significant ROI over time. Mixed pallet mode shipping is the term Wal-Mart uses to explain this concept, and for the U.S. Army where a ship full of containers can make the difference between a mission being accomplished or not, it is critical for RFID technologies that can scale to support maximum data capture and transmission be used (Kumar, 2007). With the specifics of the technologies defined, the applications of RFID from a distribution, logistics and supply chain standpoint are next discussed.

RFID Applications

The breadth of RFID uses or applications continues to broaden as the underlying system components, from databases to scanner and tags, mature rapidly. The most common use of RFID from a process standpoint is for streamlining supply chains. The U.S. Army’s reliance in a highly integrated and coordinated supply chain can be seen in the build-out Collaborative Supply Chain Management (CSCM) within this branch of the armed forces (Carroll, Neu, 2009).

RFID has the potential to make several key contributions throughout the DoD supply chains overall and the U.S. Army’s specifically. From the monitoring of inbound supplies and their quality levels to the development of Bills of Materials (BOM) definitions for the manufacturing of customized vehicles, armament, supply containers and support systems, RFID has the potential to revolutionize speed of deployment while dropping operating systems significantly. Figure 4, DoD Supply Chain Analysis provides an assessment of each significant process area where RFID can make a significant cost or time-based efficiency reduction based on greater visibility into these shared process areas (Angeles, 2009). Supply chains often don’t achieve their highest levels of efficiency when there is a lack of interprocess, intersystem and inter-role visibility. RFID technologies alleviate the lack of visibility by capturing data in real-time an d then reporting it through the use of data management systems that report back analytics of key process areas (AMR Research, 2004) .

Figure 4: DoD RFID Supply Chain Analysis

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (AMR Research, 2004) (Hartman, 2005)

(U.S. DoD, 2005) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

Figure 4 shows how RFID can be integrated into the workflow of any distribution-centric organization that is a supplier or manufacturer affiliated with the DoD and the U.S. Army. This example is lifecycle centric as it shows how RFID can speed up the value chain of the U.S. Army as it procures assets and then gets them to the personnel in the field (shown as customers in this graphic). The initial use of RFID on pallets, cases and items drastically reduces the distribution centers and depots’ costs and time to manage their inventories. There is also a reduction in incorrect orders for supplies picked for the centers and shipped. The point was made earlier about mixed pallet shipments being a catalyst of higher ROI for RFID implementations. Mixed pallets make it possible for the DoD and the U.S. Army to selectively ship only what is needed through the transportation, theater and Transportation Depot Centers (TDCs). Mixed pallet mode shipping made possible using RFID tags alleviate the need to “burst” or segregate out shipments. Instead the TDCs can drop-ship mixed pallets that are consistent with in-field requirements within hours instead of breaking them apart, (Hozak, Collier, 2008) inventorying product and then re-filling orders. RFID then acts as a source of timely and accurate data throughout the U.S. Army’s supply chain to reduce errors and increase efficiencies over time. This value-chain based approach to explaining how RFID can augment and enhance the U.S. Army Supply chain resembles how this technology is used for streamlining the global WalMart supply network as well.

Competitive Technologies

For the last four decades logistics, supply chain, transportation management and warehouse management systems relied on bar coding technologies to track and inventory their products over time (Hozak, Collier, 2008). Bar coding technologies as a result grew rapidly in terms of their breadth of use, application and levels of functionality, yet were constrained due to the amount of data they could provide. Bar coding eventually became pervasive due to its very low cost per tag, low price of scanning and data capture systems, and the ubiquity of the standard throughout many industries.

Despite the cost advantages and its ubiquitous use however the lack of in-channel intelligence, insight into traceability of which specific production lot a given product came from limited the use of bar coding in more demanding, higher velocity industry environments (Carroll, Neu, 2009). Bar coding simply could not scale to meet the requirements of supply chains that were exponentially growing in complexity and depth as a result of Internet-based integration and the availability of real-time data across entire supply networks. Cleary a new technology was needed to address the shortcomings of bar coding for logistics. RFID was specifically designed to overcome the limitations of bar coding as a result.

By definition RFID is an integrated system that provides for real-time traceability and tracking, scanning via radio frequencies and analysis of shipping data all collected electronically (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009). Scan rates of containers moving through a warehouse using RFID can be transported at up to 35 miles per hour, while for bar cording this comparable task for a pallet of goods is around 6 miles per hour. These exceptionally high levels of scanning speeds are possible due to the fact that RFID does not require line-of-site to read tags as bar coding does (Matalka, Visich, Li, 2009). In addition bar coding labels are often ripped or partially blocked when in a warehouse or moving through a supply chain, making the effort of scanning them even more challenging. For the U.S. Army whose operations are often held in rugged conditions bar coding was only marginally effective as direct, dust, grease, or oil would lesson the readability of a bar code over time.

It was specifically for these shortcomings in private industry that RFID was invested in as a next generation technology for logistics, supply chains, distribution channels. An RFID Transporter or tag, depending on its features and power source, can be scanned for hundreds of feet away. For the U.S. Army and the transporting of hundreds of millions of pounds of equipment rapidly to support missions, this would save significant time and cost, and also ensure greater accuracy of deployments. In comparable terms to Wal-Mart, the ability to deliver the right product, at the right price, to the right customer is key. Table 2, Comparing Bar Coding and RFID Technologies provides a comparison by functional area of each technology.

Table 2: Comparing Bar Coding and RFID Technologies

Product Functionality

Bar Coding


Reading capability

Optical-line of sight required

Wireless — line of sight not necessary (there are some exceptions to this however)

Reading Speed

Bar coding can read a single label scan

RFID can read multiple tags


Labels tend to be damaged in harsh processes. Etching directly onto a part has increased durability.

Tags are more durable than bar code labels, can be used during and after most harsh environments.

Amount of Information

A 1D bar cord can store 20 alphanumeric characters, while a 2D bar code can store roughly 2K characters.

RFID tags are capable of storing several thousand characters, or several kilobytes, of information

Flexibility of Information

To update information, a bar code label must be replaced with a new bar code label.

To update information, many RFID tags can have their memories updated via wireless communication


2D bar codes provide encryption capability.

RFID tags have manufacturer-installed ID codes that cannot be changed, counterfeiting difficult.

Cost per label or tag

Car code labels typically cost less than $0.01.

RFID tags cost from $0.25 – $0.50, up to $250.


Bar coding is standardized & accepted

RFID lacks complete standardization, especially globally.

State of infrastructure (average levels of readiness)

The infrastructure required in many organizations to support bar codes is easily put into place, updating manual processes using those optically-based reading technologies.

The infrastructure to support RFID tagging is minimal; the data collection stations and data mining software require investment.

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (AMR Research, 2004) (Hartman, 2005)

(U.S. DoD, 2005) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

While the costs of bar code labels are significantly less than RFID tags, their functionality is severely constrained by the use of optics instead of electronics to read them. Bar coding requires many scanning and data capture points throughout a distribution or logistics center while RFID can have a minimal set and capture the same or more products as they progress through inventory positions in a warehouse. In the U.S. Army’s distribution and logistics centers for example the line-of-sight requirement of bar coding forces warehouses to be designed to allow for scanning to occur close enough to reliably read the labels yet with enough room to move the assets around and get them ready for shipment. RFID on the other hand enables a higher level of density in distribution and logistics centers due to the radio frequency-based nature of the technology

A second significant competitive technology is RFID integrated circuits, which are hybrid or passive by definition due to their power requirements (Anderson, 2009). These integrated circuits are often smaller than a few centimeters long and therefore can be embedded into devices too small or delicate for the existing RFID tags. In addition this technology can also be “designed in” to any device or equipment that the Department of Defense requires it to be. The essence of this technology is the integration of the logic engine and the antenna necessary for managing the connectivity to the broader network. Cisco, HP, Intel, Micron and others have all continued the pursuit of these technologies with above-average R&D spending (Anderson, 2009). The emergence of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and the rapid growth of RFID chipsets’ adoption in highly mobile applications are evident in the studies published on the convergence of location-aware mobile phones for example (Simakova, Neyland, 2008). The implications on retail are exceptionally strong and could change the industry of RFID tags prior to its completely build-out on the existing technology base.

( a.ka. Improvements in the scope of it) Contributions of RFID to Enterprises

The supply chain workflows shown in Figure 4, DoD RFID Supply Chain Analysis provide a foundation for evaluating the contributions of RFID to enterprises. The benefits of automating each link in a supply chain deliver significant improvements in quality of service, speed and costs reductions due to greater levels of traceability and visibility. The initial benefit areas of improving intransit data sharing and asset visibility, improvements in shipping, receiving and transportation timeliness and greater cost reductions in shipping, receiving and transportation logistics all can be tracked through the use of KPIs and metrics to quantify the performance gains over time. As supply chains integrate RFID into their processes and workflows they also gain additional insight into how they can improve inventory management, labor productivity by alleviating orders not being fulfilled correctly and also reducing pipelines and lapses on shipping and receiving programs. The area were RFID is nascent yet shows the potential for increasing the profitability of companies directly is in the areas of automated receipt and acceptance, speed payment process definition and distributed order management. In WalMart and other retailers these are the processes that are directly related to the distributed order management process, systems and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (Goebel, Gunther, 2009). As each asset in inventory is also tagged and tracked, shrinkage and theft also are significantly reduced. These benefits when distributed across the supply chain of the U.S. Army are represented by Figure 5, Translating RFID Applications to Benefits. The DoD has been working with RFID for over twenty years in pilots with Backscatter Active tags for containers, so as a result for shown for initial benefits have been validated in actual performance of their supply chains.

Figure 5: Translating RFID Applications to Benefits

Sources: (Cheung, Chu, Du, 2009) (AMR Research, 2004) (Hartman, 2005)

(U.S. DoD, 2005) (Wang, Wang, 2009)

With the development and eventual launch of RFID-enabled chipsets and their integration into smaller, more agile devices including location-aware cell phones and PDAs, the potential for bringing greater levels of accuracy and transparency to supply chains is evident. The smaller tags are initially hybrid in structure (Anderson, 2009) due to power requirements, and will eventually have EPC compatibility to the full command set level in mobile devices (Simakova, Neyland, 2008). This translates into a much lower Total Cost of Ownership for devices based on these chipsets in addition to a smaller footprint in terms of power consumption in readers as well.

Process, Performance and System Improvements for it Based on RFID

Measuring the contribution and performance of RFID adoption through organizations often starts by setting objectives for gaining greater levels of order accuracy, traceability and synchronization across suppliers. Studies have indicated that the greater the extent of synchronization of suppliers the greater the level of knowledge transfer and learning that occurs, and the emergence of knowledge, not necessarily price or product becoming the strongest competitive weapon. This is exactly why Toyota invests so heavily in RFID throughout its manufacturing plants as it seeks to translate knowledge into a competitive strength over time. The same holds true for the U.S. Army and their need for translating the knowledge of supply chain management and optimization into a strategic weapon; knowledge becomes the strength over and above the materials and supplies flowing through the supply chain.

In quantifying the contribution of RFID to the U.S. Army it is critically important to take a series of metrics and seek to define the optimal set for each given strategy or process area. The highest performing RFID pilots are those that are able to precisely align the best KPIs and metrics to their unique needs in the supply chains and individual processes being automated. Table 3, Using Supply Chain Metrics to Measure RFID Performance, the entire supply chain can be evaluated in terms of performance based on its contribution to process performance overtime (AMR Research, 2004). For the U.S. Army these metrics would be even more specific and focused as there is less variation in product design and customization strategies than in the private sector.

Table 3: Using Supply Chain Metrics to Measure RFID Performance

Table 3: Using Supply Chain Metrics to Measure RFID Performance

Measure of Performance

What it Measures

Perfect Order

An order that is complete, accurate, on time, and in perfect condition

Demand Forecast Accuracy (DFA)

The difference between forecasted and actual demand

Quote-to-Cash Cycle Time

The time between when a quote is accepted by a prospect to when their first invoice is paid

Cash-to-Cash Cycle Time

The length of time between when a company spends cash to buy raw materials to the time cash flows back into the company from its cus-tomers. Includes the following metrics:

Ship to Customer Delivery — Time taken from shipment of finished goods to delivery at customer’s address

Raw Materials Receipt to Payment — Time from receipt of raw materials to payment; also called Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) — Measurement of the average collection period from invoicing to cash receipt.

Supply Chain Transparency and Performance

Integrating customer-facing systems with supply chain, ERP, fulfill-ment and service systems gives manufacturers the ability to track their progress toward a Perfect Order. These metrics include:

Available-to-Promise (ATP) — Defines for both standard and customized products when the shipment will occur.

Capable-to-Promise (CTP) — Defines stock levels relative to demand to the purchase order level.

Order Visibility — Provides both at the individual order level and an aggregate view new order activity and its implications on the supply chain, existing production schedules and fulfillment.

Supply Chain Management Cost

SCM cost includes the following components:

Direct purchasing operating cost

Manufacturing operating cost

Transportation cost

Warehouse/distribution center operating cost

Inventory holding cost

Customer service operating cost


Essential to the successful completion of the U.S. Army’s missions, supply chains and their processes are a strategic link between procurement, logistics, distribution centers and the front lines. RFID is making significant contributions to commercial supply chains today, providing greater levels of traceability and visibility of shipments, more flexibility in managing mixed-pallets for greater speed and flexibility, and rapid reduction of supply chain and logistics costs. As the U.S. Army has a very wide breadth of missions and its supply chains must react with agility and speed to each of them, technologies that allow for rapid deployment of assets and their continual tracking and accountability are vital. As with humanitarian aid, the speed and flexibility of the U.S. Army’s supply chain can very often mean the difference between hundreds if not thousands of lives being saved or not. In regions of conflict including Afghanistan and Iraq, the quality and cost of a supply chain’s costs of operation have a direct impact on the attainment of missions. By using RFID technology it is possible for the U.S. Army to attain and exceed the objectives of both humanitarian and in-theater operations as each asset in a supply chain can be tracked and accounted for, and delivered directly to those units, divisions or brigades that need support to complete their missions and objectives.


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How RFID Works

RFID Diagram:

(Tag ID Communication)


RF Module



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We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment  Help Service Works

1.      Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2.      Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3.      Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4.      Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

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