The Case for RFID

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-10-17 Print this article Print

Gen 2 has been adopted by a number of leading tag and reader manufacturers. Over 200,000 certified tags have been shipped to date, according to EPCglobal.

More importantly, the Gen 2 standard was adopted in July by the ISO—a key win for EPCglobal given that a tap from ISO leads the way to a globally accepted standard.
A step up from its predecessor Gen 1, Gen 2 provides not only the capability to read and write to tags but also to rewrite to tags, a feature that should help drive down the overall cost of tags.
It also provides the ability to lock data and to kill or disable a tag prior to consumer checkout—a feature that could help ease some of the consumer privacy fears around RFID. But Gen 2 is not the end of the standards line for EPCglobal, or the bulk of its work. In addition to inter-enterprise standards development, EPCglobal working groups are pounding out specifications for hardware and software interoperability. At the same time, the organization is devoting its time to help influence public policy around RFID, and to help companies understand and get on board with RFID. EPCglobal has a developed a boatload of content around helping companies determine both a business case and return on investment for RFID—an ongoing mission that has yet to be validated on any large scale. While big companies like Wal-Mart, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever are clearly leaders in adopting RFID, there doesnt seem to be a lot of user adoption outside of mandate compliance. To help, EPCglobal provides a whole host of subscriber tools, particularly around financial planning. A virtual library of white papers is available on such topics as KPI (key performance indicators) guidelines, current and future state assessments, business case planning, and industry issues and drivers. RFID vendors raise the stakes with new products. Click here to read more. EPCglobal also provides an RFID cost tutorial to help unearth any of those hidden costs with an RFID implementation. There is also an EPCglobal Adoption Framework to help companies investigate, experiment, test, pilot and deploy RFID. It is developed by the EPCglobal community, not by the organization itself, as is much of the work at the organization. In its current nascent state, EPCglobal has honed in on five areas of focus: Supply chain management (inventory tracking, returns); asset management (maintenance logging, spare parts tracking); being a part of process management (assembly automation, component production); health and safety (patient safety, warranty and expiration); regulatory issues (FDA anti-counterfeiting Act, state and federal legislation); and access control (animal tracking, electronic article surveillance, credential validation). Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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