The U.S. military relies heavily on radio-frequency identification (RFID) and the internet of things to track its assets around the world. How fitting then that the predecessor of RFID was originally a World War II invention. What began as a technological advancement for performing better on the battlefield has become an indispensable tool for tracking equipment, supplies, and even military personnel.
Barcodes and RFID have been used by the military for decades. But as RFID technology has matured, the military is relying less on barcodes. Advanced RFID makes it possible to track just about anything military-related without having to use hand-held scanners that rely on barcodes and infrared light.
According to California-based Rock West Solutions, the number of RFID applications being used by the military continues to grow. RFID is making the military more nimble, more efficient, and more fiscally responsible. There is nothing wrong with that.
Tracking Military Equipment
Military equipment is among the most challenging assets to track. From hand-held weapons to parachutes, the sheer volume of equipment owned and used by the U.S. military is incomprehensible to the average person. Imagine being assigned to the logistics team responsible for keeping track of it all.
With the use of RFID applications, tags, and readers, military personnel can quickly and accurately locate any piece of tagged equipment regardless of where it is in the world. There still is plenty of equipment that has not yet been tagged, but it is only a matter of time before all of it will be.
Army parachutes are a great example. Thanks to passive RFID tracking, the Army exercises tight control of parachute warehousing, packing, shipping, and post-jump recovery.
RFID technology is now being used to track certain kinds of armaments. For example, Navy installations in Hawaii use RFID tags and readers to scan every armament going in and out. This has proved especially invaluable for tracking both nuclear armaments and certain related supplies and materials that would be deemed hazardous on a Navy vessel. Through RFID technology, the Navy keeps better track of what they have on board their ships and what is sitting in their warehousing facilities.
Tracking Routine Supplies
Modern RFID technology was first developed for the retail sector. It was developed to keep track of the supply chain from single stores to complete networks of stores. That same technology is now being used to manage the billions of dollars in supplies that keep the military running.
The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard require more than just guns and bullets to work. Everything from paper products to janitorial supplies is consumed by our military complex. As such, the military comprises its own unique supply chain that could rival the economies of some of our smaller states. All those assets can be tracked precisely using RFID applications and equipment.
Saving Money Too
Do you remember the days of the U.S. military spending $500 on a single toilet seat? A lot of the reckless spending from the past was the direct result of inadequate inventory control. Because the supply chain is now being managed by RFID and internet connectivity, many of the inventory control problems that plagued the military of the 1970s and 80s are no longer an issue. That is bringing costs down while making the military meaner and leaner.
What began as an experiment in World War II Germany and the Soviet Union has become a technology used around the world. Here at home, our military is using RFID to track its assets. It is proving to be a very good thing.