"Slap and ship" may be catchy shorthand for a popular method of RFID tagging, but it appears that it's not quite so simple as it sounds.
A fairly recent entrant into the logistics lexicon, the phrase "slap and ship" refers to the practice of applying RFID tags to goods in the DC (not the factory) just before shipping them to customers. It's been widely assumed that all companies using the slap and ship method followed the same basic procedure: pulling goods that need tags out of the distribution process just prior to shipping, unwrapping them and slapping tags on them. But researchers from ARC Advisory Group say there's a bit more to it. "The term 'slap and ship' does not fairly reflect what is going on at many DCs," says Steve Banker, ARC's service director for supply chain management. "There is both more automation and more process variation than has been generally recognized."
ARC researchers interviewed officials at 24 companies actively investing in EPC RFID (electronic product code radio-frequency identification). What they found was that although 85 percent of them were applying tags in their DCs, they were doing it in a variety of different ways. Some relied on manual processes, diverting orders that needed RFID tags to a special value-added service (VAS) station, where workers unloaded cases from the pallet for tagging, reloaded and rewrapped the cases, tagged the pallet itself and sent it out. Others have automated the process, using conveyors to move pallets or cases to the VAS station, from the tagging station to a palletization station, or from a palletization station to the shipping dock. Still others preprint encoded RFID labels and apply them to the cases at the time the cases are picked. Furthermore, these methods aren't mutually exclusive. Companies can use them interchangeably within a single distribution center, Banker notes.