RFID Orders Continue to Surge

With the United States leading the way but closely followed by the United Kingdom, China and Japan, RFID sales continue to outpace the economy. Global sales are expected to hit $5.56 billion in 2009.

Despite the sluggish economy, global sales of RFID technology are expected to grow 5 percent to $5.56 billion in 2009. According to IDTechEx, the surge in sales will be accomplished despite the world's largest RFID project -- the $6 billion China National ID card scheme -- being completed a year earlier.

The United States heads the list of RFID projects, including a $428 million contract issued by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems for a contract for the Radio Frequency Identification III (RFID III) program. Currently, RFID tags are attached to approximately 125,000 shipments of U.S. military supplies each week.

Another major contract was Transcore's $63 million deal with Florida for an RFID-based end-to-end electronic toll system. In addition, the United States has seen many multimillion dollar RFID orders placed for 2009, including a $2 million order for Awarepoint to provide a real-time locating system for Jackson Health System, continuously tracking 12,000 key assets. For most of the suppliers, the new orders are their largest orders ever.

In other significant RFID deals, CSC and IBM landed an order for $570 million to upgrade the United Kingdom's e-passport applications and enrollment system.

After completing their massive RFID ID program, the Chinese are putting RFID where it is not found in the West, such as in checks and on fast fishing boats to prevent collisions. However, China is also making the world's largest investment in installing RFID throughout its factories and supply chain in order to underpin the nation's manufacturing.

An order for $8 million of RFID-enabled casino chips has been placed by establishments in Macao and the Philippines. Hong Kong is particularly active in RFID while Japan continues to buy more than 90 percent of the world's RFID-enabled mobile phones. They can be used to buy access to public transport as well as goods in many retail shops.

On the technology front, IDTechEx reports WSN (wireless sensor networks) -- so-called third generation active RFID -- are being offered by a large number of companies. They have taken many fairly modest-sized orders initially but enough to make the market for WSN overtake the market for RTLS - second generation RFID -though the two do not yet compete with each other.