How not to make money in IT, RFID edition

It's just past Y2k, and this IT pilot fish is working for an e-commerce startup on the ERP team.

"The attached warehouse management system supported RF guns for nearly all tasks on the shop floor," says fish. "The warehouse was undergoing some construction, so it was bare of any equipment or shelving.

"As a result, the RFID system providers had only the blueprints of the warehouse at hand, which also showed the future racks and shelves.

"One of the providers, after reviewing the blueprints and seeing a 3-D simulation of the future warehouse processes, submitted a quote for 6 RF antenna base stations on a fixed bid.

"Having studied physics and knowing what metal structures can do to electromagnetic waves, I pointed out that the shelves would be blocking the RF signals. But the provider couldn't be convinced -- and their bid was accepted.

"And once the shelves are in place? As I predicted, when the handful of RF antennas are installed, most of the warehouse is not covered. In the end, the provider had to install about 50 antenna base stations -- on a fixed bid for 6."

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