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What is AIDC? Why is it good for your business?
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What is AIDC? Why is it good for your business?

Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) are the terms used to describe direct entry 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.

AIDC includes a number of technologies which provide different solutions to data collection problems. These include: Bar Code, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Data Communications, Magnetic Stripe, Voice and Vision Systems, Optical Character Recognition, Biometrics, as well as others. Each of the 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 travelling 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.

Inexpensive Data

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.

Information Availability

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.


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, you can help keep costs under control while tracking more details, optimizing your processes, and becoming more competitive.


Because of the diversity of solutions offered by AIDC technologies, there is no "best" technology. The "best" technology for product identification in one application may not be the "best" technology in another. The following sections highlight the advantages, features and typical applications of each of the AIDC technologies. Matching these capabilities to your data collection needs is really the only way to choose the "best" technology. And your challenge may require grouping several technologies together to meet objectives.

Your business can be improved by AIDC in three specific ways. Data entry is streamlined, automated, and inexpensive. The information is then rapidly available in electronic form providing a more current and flexible view of your business. Additionally, the automated data entry provides more accurate information than is economically feasible with manual data entry.

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