I Am Inventory – Manage Me

Mark Canes

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a piece of inventory? To travel along a conveyor belt and periodically have your bar-code scanned? Well, that was my experience last week. I repeatedly whizzed down a chute (or several), then edged forward behind other inventory items waiting to be scanned.

Explanation: I spent 4 days at a ski resort (Whiteface, near Lake Placid, NY). And please don’t misunderstand me, we had a terrific time, great skiing on the 1st 3 days in particular, and the lines were not bad at all. But it does feel kind of like living on a production line. The lift passes here (and at many resorts these days) are bar-coded – and the lift attendants scan your ticket with a handheld to ensure your pass is valid. This approach also facilitates issuing a single pass for a flexible, multi-day purchase (such as ski any 4 days during a 6 or 7 day period) – the first scan each day uses up one of the four days.

One downside of this is that it can cause bottlenecks when a lift gets busy, specially when it’s really cold and the scanners (machine and human) are affected by the temperatures, resulting in multiple attempts to scan a single skier. It seems to me that here’s one instance where RFID technology, perhaps combined with turnstiles may in fact be a more cost-effective technology, reducing the number of people involved in the process.

Has anyone out there seen RFID used to track human “inventory”?