Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) is a term used to group together several different technologies that are used to automatically identify items, collect data about them and provide the ability to enter that data electronically into computer systems.
Many businesses handle large amounts of paper-based data, and often descriptions are transferred from paper to electronic systems and back again many times in order to suit different situations.
Paper usage of this extent is extremely wasteful, not only in the time spent transferring data, but also in the mistakes and errors that can be introduced, both in keying in and reading the information. Which is why AIDC technologies have become such a benefit to companies of all sizes.
Most of the data can be carried electronically in a form that can be attached to the object such as Barcodes or RFID equipped access cards or Smart Cards which can be enhanced further with the use of Biometric data.
In most cases AIDC systems work without human involvement, when human involvement is required, it is usually limited to a user scanning an AIDC equipped item. This frees up a lot of resources that are needed elsewhere and the cost savings of this freed up manpower along with the savings from eliminating product loss and time savings have helped to propel AIDC into the forefront of business operations.
There has been a great advancement in AIDC over the years and it is now possible for users around the world to interact with millions of business processes and systems using AIDC devices.
Object tracking using Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) systems which also uses RFID Tags prevents theft of store inventory. Locating objects through the uses of Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) to name just a couple of the many opportunities which AIDC based technology has to offer.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer data between a reader and an electronic tag which is attached to a particular object. Asset tracking and object identification are the two main uses for RFID.
Uses for RFID technology is destined to increase as time goes on. One such use can be to give every product in a supermarket its own unique RFID Tag. When a shopper selects their items and puts them in their shopping cart, they can then go to the checkout, and instead of having to scan each individual item, the shopper could just push their cart through the RFID Reader Gateway. The Gateway will read all the tags contained in their shopping carts. All of the items can then be paid for and the shopper can leave the store.
Barcodes make it possible for businesses to store and access large amounts of data in regards to the product they are placed on. They are widely used in the healthcare industry and hospitals for patient identification, to access data on medical history, drug allergies and other important information.
They are also used in several other industries to record important information including the tracking of rental cars, airline luggage, registered mail and even nuclear waste just to name a few of their wide range of uses.
Two-dimensional barcodes provide a means of embedding Web addresses, text or other data in a camera-readable format. This enables the users of smartphones to scan a 2D barcode and be automatically directed to a Web page or other data contained within the code. This simplifies having to remember or re-key URLs that are found on an item.
Even though RFID technology is relatively new when compared to the barcode, it is easy to see why popularity for it is growing at a much faster rate and it’s future possibilities are seemingly endless.
The future plans for AIDC are as simple as the application is difficult. If all items are equipped with a minute identifying device, daily life on earth will go through a major transformation. Products running out of stock or being wasted will no longer exist because we will know exactly what is being consumed anywhere on the globe. Theft will be non-existent when we know where an item is at all times.
Counterfeiting of critical or expensive items such as drugs, repair parts or electronic components will be reduced or eliminated because manufacturers or other supply chain businesses will know where their products are at all times.
Product waste and spoilage will be greatly reduced because environmental sensors will alert suppliers or consumers when sensitive products are exposed to excessive heat, cold, vibration or other risks.
Supply chains will operate far more efficiently because suppliers will ship only the products needed when they are needed. This will also bring about a consumer and supplier price drop on most items.