Is There a Generation

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-03-01 Print this article Print

Gap?"> "What we ended up with is a single UHF standard that could be used under any regulatory environment around the globe, showing five to 10 times a read rate performance over Gen 1 standard," said Hutchinson, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

"It has much improved capability in areas like dense reader performance where more than one UHF readers in close proximity."
What Gen 2 accomplished at the same time is bringing together four disparate standards that qualified as Gen 1 specifications: two from the Auto-ID Center and two from ISO: 18000-6 Part A and 18000-6 Part B—sort of.
The Auto-ID Center officially closed its doors in 2003, when it transferred its technology to EPCglobal. "Those standards are still in products out there, being sold against Gen 1, but the bulk is Gen 2," said Hutchinson. At the same time, ISO is working with EPC to bring together its UHF specifications with EPCs. Once a final ratification step is complete, the Gen 2 specification will become part of the ISOs 18000-6 Part C specification. That means the two standards will eventually become technically identical—an event that will go a long way in making Gen 2 a truly global specification, according to industry analysts. "The key is [the industry] needs a globally harmonized standard in the world, and EPC is very U.S.-focused," said Michael Liard, RFID Practice Director with IT research firm Venture Development Corp. "Thats why it needs to be ISO [compliant]. But when that happens is anybodys guess." That global recognition is important to companies like DHL, an early adopter of RFID that is begging for standards. Click here to read about how the DHS has delayed its RFID plan. "DHL is a global company—were absolutely gigantic," said Bob Berg, senior business systems manager and RFID Manager for DHL Americas. "We have to have a system that works across all regions, all countries. We have to make sure the companies we work with have standards … we take a lot of shipments. Gen 2 is helping with that." After about 25 or 30 pilot programs, DHL is seriously considering implementing an RFID infrastructure—and handing out thousands of tags to its biggest customers, primarily suppliers. What it doesnt want to do, according to Berg, is tag goods twice—a fear that could play out if theres no international standard to adhere to. But like Tandy Brands McMasters, Berg isnt convinced that Gen 2 is any great functionality leap over its predecessor. "The read rates are good and the equipment works fairly well, but its not exactly plug and play," said Berg. "The real value is standardization. We have to have a standard. Wal-Mart, the Department of Defense, they want Gen 2. Thats fine with us." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.


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