RFID Simplifies Returns
Managing product lifecycles
The electronics that we carry in our bags and briefcases is made up of hundreds of components. Marianne Gruber’s mobile phone, her sister’s pocket PC or John McFarden’s laptop are only a few examples. So what will they do if a tiny part inside their electronic devices breaks down?
John McFarden for instance, an independent consultant, has an important presentation for a new client tomorrow. Unfortunately his laptop’s display does not function properly anymore.
Naturally, John returns to the shop where he purchased the laptop and asks for a replacement. Even though John no longer has his receipt, the store can check the warranty in a database, since John did not deactivate the RFID tag on the computer. The Electronic Product Code (EPC) tag attached to the laptop contains a unique identifier for John’s specific laptop, and it may contain product information similar to what is found on a bar code today. This means that warranty services can be provided without hard-copy warranty receipts, thus reducing waiting times and improving customer service significantly. The sales assistant checks John’s account to see that the laptop is still under guarantee. A manager okays the exchange, and John walks out with a new computer.
A wealth of product information
The shop doesn’t wish to be stuck with John’s broken computer, however. It wants to make sure it receives due compensation for the faulty part. A repair specialist identifies what is wrong, and the shop prepares to make a claim.
Since the laptop was tagged with EPC-based RFID, the shop logs into a secure database and retrieves the information it needs using the EPCglobal Network. This way, the necessary information about the hundreds of parts that make up the laptop can be found, so that the problem can be reported to the company that made the faulty part.
This process, called product lifecycle management, is made possible with RFID. It helps companies and consumers save both time and money when handling faulty goods. And, what's more, it will reduce the amount of waste that pollutes the environment, since only defective components rather than whole products are discarded. This product information will be very useful when the time comes to recycle the various components that make up a given electronic product.
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