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Developing Industry Standards

Companies in aerospace, oil and gas, and retail apparel are working to create a common way of using RFID to maximize the technology's potential benefits.
By Mark Roberti
Aug 26, 2014

One sign that radio frequency identification is getting closer to mainstream adoption is the growing number of standards efforts under way globally. While RFID technology standards have existed for years, interoperability of tags alone doesn't foster adoption. It's essential to develop standardized ways to employ standards—what type of RFID will be used for specific applications, what data is written to the tag, where the tag will be placed and so on.

The first industry to come together to develop standards was the retail consumer packaged goods sector. Retailers and CPG companies agreed to use passive ultrahigh-frequency tags based on the Electronic Product Code standard, but they also wanted to create standards for sharing RFID data.

Illustration: iStockphoto
Walmart and Target got together with Procter & Gamble, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark and other companies to develop a set of XML tags, or qualifiers, that would be used to share data via GS1's Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS). The idea was that qualifying data would be associated with RFID tag reads, and this data would be shared via the EPCIS standard. For example, one XML qualifier was for the business process being undertaken. So if an RFID tag was read when a retailer was receiving goods, that data would be shared via EPCIS with the supplier of the goods, as would the store's Global Location Number and other information.

The CPG industry abandoned RFID after the economic downturn in 2008, but other industries have launched standards efforts. GS1 is curently working with apparel retailers and manufacturers to develop standards. Among the issues being discussed: what data to put on the tag, where to place the tags and how to manage data serialization.

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