RFID and Automatic Identification Focus: Our Weekly Feature Article on Topics of Interest to those Using or Considering RFID or other Auto ID Technologies  
  - July 21, 2010 -  

Top RFID News of the Week


Cheap, Printable Tags a Step Closer? Construction Company Chases Ghost Workers; New RFID, GPS, Cellular Trailer Padlock; Item-Level Tagging in Retail Growing - Maybe



SCDigest Editorial Staff

SCDigest Says:
While even 3 cents per tag is likely too high for the grocery industry, the research says they believe they can drive the costs even lower.

Click Here to See Reader Feedback

Below you will find concise summaries of the top RFID stories of the past week, as selected by SCDigest editors.


Are Printable Tags for Consumer Packaged Goods Closer?


Even well before the Auto ID Lab at MIT and the concept of the EPC tag, RFID providers and grocery retailers envisioned a system in which customers would wheel carts past readers and have their merchandise tags instantly read, drastically reducing the time to wait in line (and the expense of check-out clerks.)


The problem? Some concerns about read rate performance, but more directly the cost of tags. Today’s UPC/GTIN bar codes are generally printed as a direct part of the package, adding almost no cost to the manufacturer for the bar code identification.


Even the MIT vision of the “5 cent RFID tag” would be a non-starter for basic consumer packaged goods, taking a huge toll on margins versus the free package-printed bar codes.


Thus, the goal of a “printed tag” using special inks that could serve as the antenna and possible the chip. There have been several promising technologies, such as BiStatix, that have never really achieved commercial success.


Now researchers from Suncheon National University in Suncheon, South Korea as well as Rice University in Houston, Texas say they have created an RFID tag that can be directly printed onto consumer goods packaging, at a cost of about 3 cents per tag.


The tags are made up of an ink laced with carbon nanotubes so that the codes can be printed onto a plastic or paper substrate. The researchers are aiming to fit 96 bits into a tag the size of a business card.


While even 3 cents per tag is likely too high for the grocery industry, the research says they believe they can drive the costs even lower.


More on this soon from Supply Chain Digest.



Indian Construction Company Used RFID to Eliminate “Ghost Workers”


Indian construction company Unity Infraprojects announced this week it was implementing an RFID-based ID card system to eliminate issues with “ghost workers” who don’t show up for work but receive pay for the day in collusion with supervisors.


The company says there are two issues: workers who do not show up until the end of the day, but yet receive daily wages at the end of the shift time, and the substitution of low skilled workers for higher skilled ones who command a higher wage.


Each construction worker will be given an RFID tag. The tag will contain unique ID details of the worker including that of the contracting agency. Each worker's image is then captured by a power-over-ethernet (POE) camera and stored in a database on a server. At the end of each day, when the worker comes to collect his daily wages, the information on the tag will be matched with that in the database to verify if the worker attended duty and to confirm the skill level. Only then will the wages be paid.



New All in One Trailer Padlock Combines RFID, GPS and Cellular Communications


The EarthSearch Communications Division of East Coast Diversified Corporation announced this week the launch of a new trailer padlock that will combine several technologies meant to improve visibility and control of containers and inventory.


This RFID-Auto ID Story is Continued Below





The new TrailerSeal offering is a mechanical, battery-powered, reusable padlock embedded with RFID, GPS, and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), a technology used to manage web-based communications over cellular phone channels.


EarthSearch says in a press release that its TrailerSeal is able to provide continuous, real-time visibility of assets and containers by transmitting event and location information over cellular communications links. That information will include alerts of undesignated stops or trailer access by a driver or unauthorized access to a container in a shipyard environment.


The information can be accessed by shippers or carriers using EarthSearch’s web portal.


Lithium batteries with a life of about 90 days will be used in the padlocks, the company says.



New Study Finds Strong Interest in Item-Level Tagging, but Raises Questions



A new study by the analysts at Aberdeen Group finds that 40% of “best in class” retailers currently are (22%) or plan to implement item-level RFID tracking within the next 12 months (18%), with best-in-class defined as those retailers with in-store accuracy levels of 92% or better.


The survey was completed by some 125 retail respondents in the US, Europe and Asia, and found that retailers were looking for RFID to improve sales by improved store-level inventory accuracy (and hence store replenishment) and to reduce labor costs by greatly improving the time it takes to do such tasks as cycle counting.


Clearly, 22% of US retailers do not now use item-level tagging in any meaningful way, and we don’t think that is true of retailers in Europe or Asia yet either, though they are thought to be ahead in this area versus the US.


So, we would have liked to see the data broken down by region, and also to know how “using RFID now” was defined – our bet is most saying they were using item-level tagging were in pilot mode of one kind of another.


While noting that footwear and apparel were at the front of the pack in terms of item-level tagging adoption, the survey doesn’t break down responses by industry either.


So, interesting data, but leaving us with more questions than answers.



Any thoughts on our RFID News Round-Up for the week? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

Send an Email