Trees are often used as metaphors to suggest or visualise hierarchies – mighty interconnected branches representative of life and growth to hierarchies and structures of data management – in an event, process or project.
From RFIDdirect’s (RFID/automatic data capture) perspective, the main concern is always to understand process structure/flow in embedded systems that autonomously exchange data – the where, when, how and what for questions. Visualising these elements in a ‘tree’ of structured information can help any business analyse their process with clarity.
At the beginning
Often, our ‘tree story’ begins with a consultancy-based introduction to the use of enterprise to go on to create meaningful insights in their Data Management process deploying RFID (but not limited to RFID) in automatic data capture. Often, from there a scribbled/sketched board of ideas plants the initial seed in our office, where we start to build the branches of information specific to our customer requirements. Each branch or line can be seen to indicate a part of the whole organisation and the all-important optimum points of data capture.
Following the ‘line of thought‘
In general, with every new project we use a a scoping to map out the process and sub-processes. The graphic or diagram we adopt is a simplified, user-friendly ‘tree’ based on Vertical Line Methodology. The line featured below is as a generic tool – initiated from discussion (and ongoing dialogue), then a spontaneous sketch or process diagram. Many ideas from clients, for projects, start with an idea about a ‘solution’ or even the products they feel they want or need, instead of first, describing the process itself. By talking-through the process – greater understanding for mapping out the opportunities for improvement almost always arises. Companies who are able to hold greater control over their process, reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
RFIDdirect’s aim is to design an efficiency improvement in a process – irrespective of the technology and products alone – readily available on the market. Selecting the technology to use is the last step in the journey of improving performance and visibility in the project. In short, the tree or vertical line of information can help us highlight how ID can be structured to show any business enterprise, “what” they do, “how” they do it and “where” they do it. Awareness of ‘whole process’ is not always a given (for many complex reasons) but companies who are able to hold greater control over their process, really do reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
The Tree of Information
Unique ID: is a unique number stored in a barcode and/or RFID chipset, physically fitted to the item / asset and electronically readable (often human-readable).
Items-ID / Assets-ID
Each Item-ID / Asset-ID number is stored in a SQL database (Structured Query Language) related to essential product information. Every process in the production-line has a Cell-ID with a process description: from Goods-In to Dispatch-Out.
Every scan of the Item-ID / Asset-ID is recorded in the system as an event in which the Item-ID / Asset-ID is related to:
Packaging or Batch-ID
Date & Time
Maintenance & Calibration / Use-by Date
Reports & Management Information
The Process Flow
An important element to design and deliver a solution is mapping out the process flow. Our preferred way for doing so is, and related to your application is designed following a vertical line diagram.
Each scanning event is positioned on this vertical line and for each event we make a note of:
- What is done at each following process, what data is captured? by who and where? How?
- and what are the relationships to other data in the system (Supplier-ID as an example)
Conclusion: Roots first, growth second
In today’s manufacturing and business environment, gathering real-time product and production information about crucial physical assets, key personnel or inventory counts are critical to making future business decisions successful. Accurate, quality Data is always rooted in careful structure:
- System Architecture and Hardware to select and decide, Field Testing the tags and scanners in the real environment, set a project delivery time and milestones, define the business case, present to decisionmakers.
To conclude our ‘tree’ metaphor also; as in business, many trees experience wildness, tangles and gnarled-up interruption points in their life-cycle. Yet, overall, trees continue to grow and flourish – with each branch contributing growth – but the underlying structure (the strong and robust line of the tree trunk) ever supports the myriad of offshoots and is core to long-term survival.