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Reducing Theft and Diversion of Electronic Devices

RFID can help in a variety of interesting ways.
By Mark Roberti
To my surprise, she explained that organized crime in Asia would sometimes purchase electronics in large quantities in order to launder money. She was not entirely clear on how this is accomplished, but I assume an organized crime group would pay a distributor for a container full of tablets, and then perhaps set up its own electronics distribution firm and sell the tablets to retailers at, say, a 20 percent discount.

An attendee from the aerospace sector told me that his company wanted to track individual components on printed circuit boards, because individual chips could yield more revenue sold separately than as a completed board. It's not easy to put RFID transponders on individual components, but I suggested that by tracking the boards and associating the chips' serial numbers with those boards, the aerospace firm might be able to determine which partners were stripping the boards and selling the components. All it would need to do would be to find components on the market, trace each part's serial number back to a specific board, and determine to whom that board was sold.

RFID technology cannot solve every problem in the electronics industry—there will always be rapid swings in demand and product obsolescence, for instance—but it seems clear that theft and diversion is one area in which it can deliver some real benefits.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

USER COMMENTS

Tony Khoury 2012-10-27 09:54:30 AM
pros and cons Since RFID can be used for locking electronics in transit, hence deterring theft, I would assume that electronic manufacturers will next use RFID in their programmed obsolescence tactics.

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