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Category: RFID, Automated Data Collection, and Internet of Things

RFID and IoT News Round Up for Week of April 6, 2017

Target Progressing On Full Store RFID Rollout; Swedish Firm Putting RFID Tags in Employee's Hands; Is "Digital Identity" in Your Supply Chain Vocabulary?


April 6, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Below are some of the top recent news stories relative to RFID, the Internet of Things, and Automated Dats Collection (AIDC).

Finally an Update on Target's RFID Roll Out

In 2015, retail giant Target announced that it was jumping on that item-level RFID tagging bandwagon, saying that it was rolling out an aggressive program and expected have all its US stores RFID-enabled by the end of 2016.

At the time, a Target executive said that "We're now working with key vendors on a fast-tracked timeline to begin inserting a "smart label" on price tags that will help Target improve our inventory accuracy and enhance our ability to keep stores in stock."

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So supply professionals, can we keep the term "license plate" in an Internet of Things world, or must we embrace "digital identity?"

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The Target executive added that the program "means guests will better be able to find out whether we've got the item at their Target store or at others nearby. We also expect RFID to help us better fulfill online orders placed for store pickup, which already account for 15% of purchases." (See Target Stores Latest to Jump on Item-Level RFID Bandwagon.")

There has not been a whole lot of news since then, though in late 2016 Target cited RFID and related technology investments as helping it improve its buy on-line, pick up in-store program.

The news this week was actually from RFID tag vendor Avery Dennison, which announced it had formed a partnership agreement with Target "as part of Target's deployment of RFID technology to more than 1,600 stores."

That was about the extent of the news, and leaves a number of questions. The announcement certainly implies Target is behind on its original goals to have RFID in all it stores by the end of last year.

The original announcement made it clear that Target would roll RFID out across product categories over time, and that the focus would primarily be on apparel, not hard goods or groceries. The new Avery Dennison press releases also references apparel, noting that ""In the apparel industry, having an accurate picture of stock availability is an important driver for retailers to deliver an optimized Omnichannel experience."

After its original 2015 announcement, a spokesperson for Target told SCDigest that "We'll have RFID tags applied to items by the vendors. Most apparel vendors today order a hang tag to attach to products. Now, they will simply order an RFID-enabled hang tag."

So is the agreement for Avery Dennison to provide the tags to Target's vendors, or has that tagging plan changed? If Avery Dennison supplies tags to vendors, who bears the incremental cost, Target or the vendor? Vendors of course pay the cost of non-RFID hang tags, as they have for decades.

SCDigest will see if it can find answers to those questions soon.

Swedish Company Implants Microchips in Employees

We've been writing about it for several years now: slowly but surely, automatic identification technologies generally, and RFID specifically, are being used to track humans in one way or the other, a development of concern for privacy advocates and others for years.

Just recently, SCDigest reported on a new system from a Canadian company called GAO RFID for what it calls a new "Long Range Personnel Tracking System," which uses RFID as its core technology. Several other firms offer similar systems.

(See More Below)



The GAO system uses a variety of RFID tag "form factors" - badges, wrist bands, etc. - to provide "a cohesive solution for a variety of people tracking needs such as security, access control, attendance management, and individual locating," according to the company's press release.

This week, news that about 150 employees the Swedish technology firm Epicenter agreed to have a microchip inserted in their hands. Each chip is about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted with a needle, and will allow workers at the company to open doors automatically and use electronic devices more efficiently. Workers can "interact with the building," using the chips, Epicenter says.

Of course, the location and movement of employees could also be tracked, though Epicenter did not discuss use of the chips in that context.

It is not clear if having the tags inserted is mandatory for employees.

New Term for Readers: "Digital Identity"

Along with news this week that Internet of Things (IoT) platform vendor Evrythng (the spelling is correct) raised another $24.8 million in second round venture funding came a term SCDigest doesn't remember seeing: "digital identify."

What is a digital identity? It's really nothing more than what those of us in supply chain have called a license plate or serial number for decades, but moved into the Cloud and attached to a lot more things than pallets and cases. And of course, the properties of a thing with a digital identity would often be much different than what SKU it is, how many units there are, maybe an expiration date, its location in a DC, etc.

Evrythng says that connected things "generate real-time data and capture everything that happens to, or about, each individual product throughout its lifecycle, from manufacturing to recycling."

In its marketing materials, Evrythng often talks about how many "digital identities" it will be managing with its platform for a given application or customer.

So supply professionals, can we keep the term "license plate" in an Internet of Things world, or must we embrace "digital identity?" We'll keep you posted.

Any reaction to one or more of these round up stories? Is human tracking with RFID coming? Let us know your thoughts aththe Feedback button below.

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