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Getting the Word Out That RFID Works

Major companies in many industries want to share how they are deploying the technology across their entire operations.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 10, 2014

Last week, we announced the finalists for the 2014 RFID Journal Awards, which were introduced eight years ago to recognize excellence in the use of radio frequency identification (see Finalists Unveiled for Eighth Annual RFID Journal Awards). The size and scope of several deployments submitted impressed me—but what really struck me this year is that many companies sent in entries to get the word out that RFID works.

Bechtel, a finalist for Best RFID Implementation, is using RFID to manage materials for the construction of three mega-size industrial projects off the eastern cost of Australia. In response to the question "Why do you believe this entry deserves an RFID Journal Award?" Bechtel wrote: "Because of the adoption and full implementation of RFID in an industry [construction] that has historically been unreceptive to work process paradigm shifts involving the implementation and innovative automated solutions. The overall construction industry is several years behind the likes of automotive manufacturing and hospitals when it comes to widespread utilization of RFID technology. We believe spotlighting the Bechtel successes at Curtis Island will... pave the way for more use of RFID technology on future construction projects."

BP, another finalist for Best RFID Implementation, had a similar message for the energy industry. The company is using RFID to track components for a massive North Sea oil rig from points around the world to their arrival for assembly at a plant in South Korea. On its entry form, BP stated: "This is the first time a major oil company has demonstrated that tracking... every piece of equipment from hundreds of vendors across the globe to delivery at the construction site, with integration of all the tracking data to all the project partners, is now possible."

In fact, the submissions for Best RFID Implementation were so strong this year that for the first time, we have decided to name four finalists. Marks & Spencer (M&S) is nominated for its use of item-level RFID to improve on-shelf availability at all of its stores (see Marks & Spencer Rolls Out RFID to All Its Stores). The retailer expects to attach 400 million passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags to individual items this year. And Colcafé is nominated for an RFID solution that provides increased visibility—from raw materials through production and storage to shipping.

Skyview High School, a finalist in the Most Innovative Use of RFID category, also wanted to get the word out regarding the benefits of an RFID real-time location system (RTLS) to improve the safety of school children in the event of an emergency (see Idaho School Installs RTLS to Make Students Safer). Skyview's entry form says, "Generating awareness about the positive new uses for RFID in schools is a new story that showcases the best that RFID can offer and what's possible."

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