|I attended the
EPC forum/trade show in Chicago two weeks ago. Given the level
of interest, this entire issue of SupplyChainDigest
is devoted to news and feedback coming from this event, which
the sponsors and Kevin Ashton from MIT labeled as a “Moment
in History.” Well, maybe.
First, some basics. I’ve heard some estimates of as
many as 2000 attendees. That looked high to me, but it was
certainly well attended. There were many supply chain executives,
and a high percentage of IT-related personnel – a possible
sign that companies are preparing to do something and are
sending forth the technical folks to figure out how to get
it to work.
I admit to being something of a cynic – as are others
that have been in the supply chain business for awhile – not
because we are anti-RFID, but because so many of the potential
benefits being touted are available TODAY from current technologies,
like bar code, the Internet and point of sale data, with
substantially less new investment.
But I think there are two really important observations.
First, it may not have been a “moment” in history,
but it did hit me at the show that we seemed to have crossed
a major threshold. Many of the world’s largest companies
have now at least mentally committed to the concept that
they will be able to track every product, everywhere, proactively,
in real-time. This is not something I think we really were
contemplating even a short while ago, and it has significant
supply chain (and other) implications.
The second observation can be summarized as “too many
people just won’t scan bar codes.” Yes, RFID
can do many things bar codes can’t, though it wasn’t
that long ago that bar codes were driving big savings everywhere
by eliminating manual key data entry and paperwork as goods
moved. But it appears in some operations, like retail back
office, even bar code is just too hard. We just can’t
scan stuff into receiving or onto the floor, despite the
Symbol wireless devices lying around everywhere.
I have summarized additional Symposium news and thoughts
below, in addition to the other weekly news and views section
nearby. Give us your thoughts – are we at a “moment
Click here for more detailed Symposium News and Comment.