Most every day I listen to Marketplace from American Public Media. This podcast provides great context for news, with a special emphasis on data about business and the economy. They consistently approach stories, covered by many other news outlets, with a focus on underlying data and financial implications of the news.

But it’s not all about stock tickers and what Janet Yellen is up to. I recently heard this story about how starting this year, all NFL players will have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in their shoulder pads. Having heard about RFID more and more recently, especially in manufacturing contexts, I couldn’t help but be curious about how it all works.

How the NFL Uses RFID

The use of RFID will provide teams and the league with a lot of rich data about their players: how fast they’re moving, where they are on the field, how far they ran during a game, etc. The NFL plans to reveal more of this data to fans to add on top of normal box score metrics like yardage, tackles, receptions, etc.

Shoulder pad sensors (RFID) will mean next-generation stats. Images provided my
Shoulder pad sensors will mean next-generation stats. Images provided my

Deeper metrics could have big implications for NFL teams and fans (fantasy, anyone?!) For example, a running back may have only had a few yard gain, but may have had to run many yards (like this example). Without an RFID chip, the metrics for that play look very different than what actually happened, and may explain why a star running back now has to be pulled for two plays in a critical drive so he can recover. Of course, everything is not just about football: RFID presents a great opportunity for tracking things, really anything.

This got me thinking about some of our customers that make anything from automotive suspension to credit card chips to jewelry. It used to be that RFID was only used in high value items, but with the falling cost and technological maturity of RFID in the past few years, it’s now viable to use in many more applications.

If NFL players are the products and are being tracked, why not track your materials and products in a similar fashion. Imagine the depth of metrics that you could access which you currently aren’t seeing. There is an unlimited amount of data that could be made available through RFID, anything from correct order picking to efficient material movement through the shop floor or even finding what would have been lost inventory, previously.

QAD Automation Solutions: Bringing RFID into ERP

QAD-Cloud-Mechanical-ArmQAD is doing a lot in the RFID space recently, through our solutions, services, and partners. We’ve been hard at work on developing QAD Automation Solutions which supports effective management and movement of material throughout the whole value chain through data collection (using RFID, for example), label printing, serialization, warehouse management, and more. This space will definitely continue to grow, so more to come soon!

Now if I could just bring myself to like football…