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AIDC Technology


Defining AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture)
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 ones are:

  • Reduce data entry costs
  • Eliminate errors associated with identification and/or data collection
  • 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 bottlenecks.

Instant Information Availability To All After Entry
AIDC 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 operation.

Accuracy of Data Reduced Human Data Entry Errors
While 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 Technologies,
  • 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 voice
  • 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 application.

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 Technologies
Because 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 technologies.

Acknowledgement: Some of the information on AIDC pages is based on the information in AIMGlobal's website. We would like to thank AIMGlobal for this.

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