Alien Technology Corp., a major maker of RFID tags and readers, is using the platform of this weeks RFID World to roll out a set of RFID products, a training course and consulting services targeted at Wal-Mart distributors. A similar bundle is available for Department of Defense trading partners.
In an interview with eWEEK.com, Tom Pounds, Aliens vice president for corporate development, said the new RFID Ready Kit for Retail is tailored mainly to Wal-Mart Tier 2 distributors, who belong to the second wave of manufacturing companies that the retail giant expects to comply with its RFID mandate.
The new retail kit includes a two-day, intensive training course at Aliens RFID Academy; a one-day consultation with Alien Professional Services; an Alien RFID reader; RFID labels, antennas and accessories; an SDK (software development kit); sample source code; royalty-free Java, .Net and Visual Basic libraries; and other documentation.
More than 1,000 people from 450 organizations have already been trained at Aliens RFID Academy, said Pounds. Some of these RFID students are employees of large software and hardware companies. Others are systems integrators. But many end-user organizations have also sent workers—ranging from IT professionals to logistics specialists—to the RFID school.
The consultation with Alien Professional Services, also included in the retail kit, is held on the customers premises and is tailored to meeting users specific needs, he said.
Aliens RFID bundle for Defense Department distributors is similar, except that the educational sessions “cover slightly different content, as you might imagine,” according to the vice president.
Compliance with RFID mandates is quickly turning into an overriding theme at RFID World. Also at this weeks show in Dallas, Sun Microsystems Inc. has introduced a reference architecture for CPG (consumer packaged goods) distributors called the RFID Industry Solution Architecture for Manufacturing.
“Compliance is clearly a big issue in CPG right now, and it will be soon in pharmaceuticals too,” said Pounds.
Also at RFID World, Alien is announcing that Thomas Coughlin, former vice chairman at Wal-Mart, has been elected to the companys board of directors.
In a third announcement, NCR Corp.s Systemedia Division has been certified under Aliens qualification program for RFID label converters—meaning that NCRs RFID labels are being manufactured to Aliens specifications for “high performance.”
Alien works with about 25 to 30 companies that convert RFID tags to labels, according to Pounds.
Pounds told eWEEK.com that an industry shortage of RFID tags and labels, which became very problematic for some RFID users at the end of last year, is “just about sorted out.”
Pounds blamed the shortage largely on a lack of realization among some product suppliers that they must place their orders early, so as to accommodate the 12-month manufacturing cycle for RFID labels.
“A lot of suppliers are accustomed to ordering bar-code labels and then getting them a couple of days later,” said Pounds.