RFID technology is finding its way into Kanban systems. Procurement systems using RFID technology are simpler and quicker than the barcode systems that have generally been used until now.

Innovative Kanban systems with RFID technology

Kanban systems have revolutionised procurement processes, and RFID makes them even more efficient.

Kanban was developed in the 1970s by Toyota in Japan and is one of the world's longest established production control methods. The systems simplify the procurement process for companies. Rather than relying on a number of different suppliers, typically several thousand products are obtained from a single source. The Kanban supplier is responsible for continuous replenishment. RFID technology makes it far easier to monitor demand locally.

Böllhoff parabola



Logistics solution with RFID

To err is human. But technology can limit the number of mistakes people make. RFID (radio-frequency identification) is a way of automating processes that used to be carried out manually. The technology provides for contactless identification and monitoring, which offers huge advantages for our C-parts procurement systems too.
The challenge was to make the technology reliable, to ensure that the systems work smoothly and efficiently in practice. The solution involves two major changes in comparison to barcode scanning: the barcode scanner is replaced by an RFID reader, and each label has a passive RFID chip instead of a barcode. When the label is printed, the chip is written with the same data that was previously contained in the barcode: part number, customer number, container number, container capacity, unloading point, and other information as required.
We operate two different systems. Either the container label is posted into a letterbox fitted with an RFID reader, or the entire container is placed in a collection box next to the shelf and registered by a reader located above the collection box. In both cases the data is read automatically. Transfer to our ERP system takes only a few seconds. We start picking immediately and deliver to our customer the very next day. That's how fast procurement can be now.

Advantages over barcode technology

  • Much quicker response times from transmission of order to delivery of goods.
  • Correspondingly lower inventory stocks for the customer. Lower capital lockup and return on capital.
  • Manual processes are reduced considerably. This increases security of supply.

Initial situation


Kanban systems without RFID technology

Extremely reliable, of course, but also more efficient. Up until 2012, barcode labels were always used on the containers in which companies store their parts. Even now, the majority of ordering processes still rely on the manual scanning of barcodes. The data is then transferred to the supplier by means of further process steps. Problem: The data is recorded and transferred at defined intervals. In the worst-case scenario all empty containers have only just been scanned when a new container is emptied. For that reason companies have to maintain adequate safety stocks. With RFID technology, these can be reduced considerably.

Ordering process without RFID


Depending on checking interval


Future potential


Intelligent transport and storage containers

RFID will be the basis for future enhancements of services. The technology is mature and reliable. And as the costs for labels and readers are falling, it is likely to grow quickly.
The future lies in tracking the containers within the logistics chain. Research is ongoing, supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Böllhoff is an affiliated partner in this process. Our aim is to develop intelligent transport and storage containers which can be tracked at any time within the entire supply chain from supplier to customer. Information about the location and fill level will increase process reliability and speed up the logistics processes. Volume-optimised supply reduces costs. And comprehensive monitoring ensures a rapid response in the event of interruptions to the supply stream.

Ordering process with RFID


In real time

Very high


Find out more: related downloads.

If you would like to know more, simply download the relevant brochures.

Title Language Version File Download
ECOSIT® ECOnomic Supply In Time
Economical procurement and distribution systems for fasteners
English 07/2018 2494 kB / PDF
English 07/2018 2494 kb / PDF
Success story
Optimising the logistics and procurement process with modern RFID technology
English 0314/13.02 161 kB / PDF
English 0314/13.02 161 kb / PDF

To view PDF documents, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

More information

Would you like to discover more of the World of Joining?

Here you will find information about successful applications and related topics.