Overview of the Case Study
Harley-Davidson (H-D) and other companies that have many manufacturing plants or production units and various dealerships may consider implementing RFID technology as a means of increasing the efficiency of all parts of its supply chain. An abstract from Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia describes Radio-frequency identification (RFID), as a technology that uses radio waves to transmit data and uniquely identify an animal, person or thing. This case study looks at the potential use of RFID technology to replace bar codes and scanners in Harley-Davidson supply chain. It indentifies some pros and cons of its implementation and addresses the question – What are some of the issues Harley-Davidson will face in comparison with those experienced by other companies such as Wall-Mart when they tried to implement RFID in their supply chains. Finally it will present a timetable for the adoption of RFID technology by Harley-Davidson in its supply chain.
“It was over a period of several years, Harley-Davidson reduced its number of suppliers from 4000 to fewer than 350” (Schneider, 2009), despite this reduction, it still has a significant spread of its operations. For a company incorporating such a supply chain in its sales of motorcycles and related product yearly, reducing or maintaining costs is very important. In such a situation the need to find more efficient ways to conduct the various aspects of the business in its supply chain is ongoing.
“The part of an industry value chain that precedes a particular strategic business unit is often called a supply chain” (Schneider 2009), p. 230. Harley-Davidson supply chain will include all the companies involved in the design, production, promotion, marketing, and delivery of each product or service. In its pursuit of a higher-quality or lower-cost product at the end of its chain, Harley-Davidson may consider implementing RFID technology to replace its bar codes and scanners.
According to whatis.com, a bar code uses a sequence of vertical bars and spaces to represent numbers and other symbols. The scanner or bar code reader uses a laser beam that is sensitive to the reflections from the bar code. It translates the reflected light into digital data that is transferred to a computer for immediate action or storage. A major disadvantage of the bar code and scanner system is its working range. According to Field, “working range is the “furthest point away from the scanner a bar code can be read minus its closest point away the bar code can be read”. This working space is generally only about 18 inches. In considering the use of RFID technology Harley-Davidson should be aware of the issues other companies such as Wall-Mart faced when they implemented RFID. H-D will attempt to preempt those and other issues by conducting this analysis.
Solutions to the Problems
RFID Technology is increasingly being used all around us. Common uses include EZ Pass, Speed...