RFID moving beyond the pallet

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has often been a key component of supply chain logistics, but the technology is now going beyond the pallets of those verticals and entering whole new areas.

“RFID is not just a supply chain technology,” said Hanns-Christian Hannebeck, director of enterprise applications for GlobeRanger Corp., an RFID provider based in Richardson, Tex. “There is a plethora of applications where RFID is being used,” he added.

Hannebeck cited such organizations as the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, which is using RFID to streamline its concession stands. He said RFID tags are being used to pay for food through a point of sale (POS) terminal connected to a server that contains a database with fan credit card information. Also, Delta Airlines is using RFID tags to help track luggage on U.S. domestic flights should it become lost.

Hannebeck noted that in Tokyo, RFID tags are being attached to 10,000 street lamps. When a handheld device is held up against any of them, the device will establish its location and then produce a list of local stores, sights and even restrooms.

“You will see a lot of these applications emerge,” Hannebeck said. He added that consumer and household goods, such as smart washing machines that know how to wash clothes based on RFID tags in the clothing, will be the last area for RFID adoption. However, Hannebeck said the supply chain industry will still be the big driver around RFID adoption.

Hannebeck was sharing his insights around RFID to a group of supply chain logistic end users during Psion Teklogix’s customer conference held this month in Orlando, Fla. Mississauga, Ont.-based Psion Teklogix provides products for mobile computing, wireless data collection, imaging and RFID for the supply chain industry.

Michael Liard, RFID research program director with Venture Development Corporation (VDC), a technology research firm in Natick, Mass., agreed with Hannebeck that RFID is more than just for the supply chain. The analyst was also in Orlando where he discussed the state of RFID in the marketplace today.

Liard stated that RFID is a $US2.5-billion industry, and by 2008 the RFID industry projected to grow to almost US$6 billion.

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