Avery Dennison’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is positioned to solve many of these supply chain dilemmas. With RFID, hen products, such as meat or produce, are packed at the supplier, a label is attached to the carton. As product moves throughout the distribution process, mounted electronic readers use electromagnetic fields to track labels, and that information is sent to the cloud so that anyone in the supply chain can see where that product is.
“I call it a barcode on steroids,” Yost says. “With a barcode, however, you have to have line of sight to the label, and each product needs to be scanned individually. RFID reads this information seamlessly, even if the label isn’t visible.”
These labels contain more information than standard barcodes to give greater insight into the origins of products and helps restaurants keep better track of inventory without taking employees away from guest-facing tasks to count cartons. It also helps restaurants know where each product has been. This lets restaurants inform their customers of the product’s lifecycle while also helping restaurants keep track of where product is in the case of food safety issues.
Restaurants are also able to use RFID technology to improve product sales and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. “Once restaurants know they have accurate inventory, they can do flash promotions and feel confident they have the product to support it,” Yost says. “For example, one restaurant chain has a green St. Patrick’s Day milkshake. In the past, they would never do a regional promotion for it because they were uncertain of what inventory they have on the local level. As they have gained more visibility into local inventory, it has allowed store operators to do more promotions when they have a surplus of a component. That increased visibility helps restaurants better serve customers and generate growth.”
This RFID technology integrates with Avery Dennison’s FreshMarx Solution, which uses technology to solve food industry problems for everything from freshness and ingredient labeling to inventory and automated temperature tracking. This allows restaurants to work with one vendor and one solution to take manage of a variety of operational issues at scale. This system also gives leaders on the corporate and franchise levels of an organization insights into food operations inside each restaurant and helps brands save on expenses.
“Avery Dennison has been a leader for a long time because they really partner with the industry and understand it in order to create innovative solutions,” Hardgrave says. “The Freshmarx Solution removes a lot of labor from the equation around inventory management, including proper rotation and expiration dates, so there are tremendous labor savings there, as well as reductions in food waste. It all comes together to ensure food is of proper quality, helps that restaurant's reputation, and increases sales.”
By Peggy Carouthers