Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) is an industry term
that describes the identification and/or direct collection of data
into a computer system, programmable logic controller (PLC), or
other microprocessor-controlled device without using a keyboard.
AIDC technologies provide a reliable means not only to identify
but also to track items. It is possible to encode a wide range of
information, from basic item or person identification to
comprehensive details about the item or person e.g. item
description, size, weight, color, etc.
Benefits of AIDC
There are several key objectives of AIDC. The most important
- Reduce data entry costs
- Eliminate errors associated with identification and/or data
- Accelerate the basic process
- For moving assets, be able to collect tracking data and
determine its exact location.
Inexpensive and Automated Data Entry
Well conceived AIDC systems can make data entry virtually cost and
labor free. With extremely inexpensive information, the level of
detail you can afford to collect skyrockets.
Consider, for example, an AIDC application to prevent lost files
in a company. Each file is identified by a label that can be
machine-read. As each file moves from desk to desk, a reader records
the move and updates the location in a central database. It takes
virtually no time for the person moving files to record every move.
(As a consequence this reporting is less likely to be left until the
person "gets around to it").
However, the company doesn't only get a system that eliminates
wasted time searching for lost files. They can also get an accurate
picture of the process both as a whole and as individual steps. For
example, they can now see in great detail how long each processing
step takes and can quickly re-allocate resources to remove
Instant Information Availability To All After EntryAIDC systems let people directly report their own
activities instead of filling out forms which get entered into a
central system a day or two later. Because the paper-handling delay
disappears, business processes dependent on information quicken.
Consider a typical distribution center. Workers unload trucks on
one side, reconcile the material against purchase orders, determine
the proper outbound mode and destination, and finally load the
material on outbound trucks at the other end of the building. If
AIDC is not used, material sits idle while people wait for
information. People need to know to which purchase order a box
belongs. They need to know if a package should leave through
standard shipment channels or whether it needs express handling.
They also need to know where to ship the package. However, if you
use AIDC to report immediately a received pallet to the central
computer system, in many cases fork truck drivers take the pallet
directly to an outbound truck. You only have to handle the pallet
once, you don't need warehouse space to store it, and you decrease
the total amount of in-transit inventory required to supply your
Accuracy of Data – Reduced Human Data Entry ErrorsWhile companies frequently adopt AIDC for speed and
economy, in retrospect they often cite accuracy as the biggest
benefit. For all practical purposes, properly designed AIDC systems
don't make mistakes, whereas with manual data entry there will
inevitably be some data entry errors.
With decreasing staffs and increasing workloads, your company
barely has enough time to do a job once. With increased competition
and shrinking profit margins, you also can't afford to alienate a
key customer by reporting inaccurate information.
By incorporating AIDC into your business processes, you can help
keep costs under control while tracking more details, optimizing
your processes, and becoming more competitive.
AIDC Technologies Involved
One or more than one of the following technologies are involved
in an AIDC solution:
- Bar Code Technologies
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Data Communications
- Card Technologies, including Magnetic Stripe Cards
- Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
- Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)
- Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)
- Emerging technologies – voice and vision systems
- Biometric Identification – Fingerprint, retinal scan or
- Contact Memory
- Machine Vision Technologies
- Real Time Locating Systems
Each of the above AIDC technologies has specific advantages and
features which make it better suited for some applications than
others. However, whether the need is to identify and track file
folders on a lawyer's desk, shipping containers on a conveyor moving
at 250 feet per minute, or rail cars traveling at 60 miles per hour,
in all probability there is an AIDC solution for your specific
AIDC technologies eliminate two error-prone and time-consuming
activities: manual data collection and data entry. AIDC bypasses
these two steps, providing a quick, accurate, and cost-effective way
to collect and enter data.
Comparing Various Component TechnologiesBecause of the diversity of solutions offered by AIDC
technologies, there is no single technology that can be considered
the "best" component technology. The "best"
component technology for product identification in one application
may not be the "best" component technology in another
situation. Matching these capabilities to your data collection needs
is really the only way to choose the "best" component
technology. Your challenge be to combine several technologies
together to meet the requirements of a specific business problem.
To understand pros and cons of various technologies, go to the
respective technology pages for each of these component