SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Oracle Corp. on Tuesday said it plans to release a new version of Oracle Warehouse Management in the summer season that will support radio frequency identification (RFID) and electronic product code (EPC) features.
Oracle officials discussed the new Warehouse Management features at this weeks Oracle AppsWorld conference here.
The new Oracle Warehouse Management package will be based Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g to enable customers to automate the process of counting and tracking goods moving in and out of warehouses.
The application server will include built-in RFID middleware to provide the connection-control and filtering features required to process RFID data. The warehouse management module will be able to produce and process RFID labels that are required for commodity tracking.
The new version of Oracle Warehouse Management will provide compatibility with RFID tags along with the reading and printing devices produced by Alien Technology Corp., Internet Technologies Corp. and Zebra Technologies.
The demand for RFID technology has been gaining momentum because major retailers, just as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the U.S. Department of Defense are requiring their highest volume suppliers to support RFID technology if they want to do business with them, said Jon Chorley, senior director of Oracle Inventory and Warehouse Management System.
The new version of Oracle Warehouse Management will support the RFID tagging of entire pallets of goods as well as individual cases. In addition, warehouse operators can track in-bound and outbound shipments, Chorley said. The automated tagging and reading process cuts the time it takes to track inventory, reduces costs and improves the accuracy of inventory reports, he said.
The technology will also improve warehouse security because with RFID readers installed at the warehouse doors, the RFID application can watch for any outbound or even inbound shipments are authorized.
Moving Towards Implementation Time
RFID technology has been around for at least 15 years, noted Sergio Giacoletto, Oracles executive vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, who has been doing much of the companys RFID business development work. “The price point has been coming down and that makes it more interesting” to a larger number of enterprises.”
Most enterprises are in the early stages of deploying RFID technology unless they have an urgent need to deploy it as soon as possible, he noted. “I expect that over the next 12 to 18 months we will see and lot of RFID pilot projects getting started, Giacoletto said. That should provide future growth for Oracle Warehouse Management as those pilots go into production, he said.
Oracles message for customers who are interested in RFID technology is “were are there. We are ready for it and we hope that it takes off,” said Charles Phillips, newly appointed Oracle co-president.
Chorley said he expected that RFID technology could spread fairly rapidly through the supply-chain network because it provides compelling warehouse efficiency improvements. “In the supply chain the adoption rate could be pretty quick—perhaps 2 or three years,” he said. Deployment may be somewhat slower among retailers because the cost benefit of RFID depends on the unit cost of the products on their shelves.
“I think that 2004 will be the year of increasing activity” in RFID implementation because customers are aware of the technology and it “comes up in just about every conversation” that Oracle is having with its applications customers, Chorley said.
Sandia National Laboratories, the nuclear weapons and military technology research center operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, plans to evaluate Oracles RFID warehouse technology as a way to track assets at its sprawling campus near Albuquerque, N.M., said Gary Concannon, a Business Technology Department manager.
“We want to take a look at it to see if it fits our needs from a security standpoint,” Concannon said. So a key requirement will be to see how well the RFID Warehouse Management system works with encryption, he said. Currently the lab uses bar codes to track equipment and assets as they are used and moved within the lab campus, he said. The Energy Department requires that the movements of many “sensitive devices” within the campus be carefully monitored and controlled, he said.