Cisco, T-Systems Germany team on RFID

Equipment manufacturer Cisco Systems Inc. and IT service provider T-Systems International GmbH will collaborate in developing smart-tag systems for the logistics and retail sectors, the companies said Tuesday.

Initially, the two companies will focus on Germany, but plan to role out jointly developed RFID (radio frequency identification) systems in other European markets, said T-System spokesman Paul Baur. The partners haven’t set a definite time frame for deployments, Baur said.

In recent months, T-Systems, the international IT services arm of German telco Deutsche Telekom AG, has teamed with several industry heavyweights, including Intel Corp., to help develop and deploy RFID systems.

Numerous retailers, including Germany’s Metro AG and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the U.S., view RFID as a way to manage the huge flow of merchandise in and out of stores more effectively, while at the same time reducing inventory losses and labor costs. The technology, for instance, allows warehouse personnel to instantly read an entire pallet of goods with an RFID chip-reading device.

Like retailers, logistics and manufacturing companies have also shown huge interest in RFID for improving their supply chain management systems.

RFID tags are computer chips equipped with miniature antennae. The technology enables noncontact transmission of product information such as price, manufacturer, expiration date and weight via a radio frequency. Many experts believe the tags will replace bar codes over the next decade.

T-Systems provides IT services to about 60 multinationals, including DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG, and 160,000 smaller companies.

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