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Are Your Products Smart?

Getting the most out of your products with RFID.
By Mark Roberti
Feb 01, 2006For the past decade or more, many manufacturers have been striving to make their products smarter and more useful. My coffeemaker automatically brews up a fresh pot of java that greets me in the morning. My computer remembers my keystrokes and finishes words I've begun to type. And my car has a built-in navigation system that tells me where to go and even directs me around traffic jams. Now, some forward-thinking manufacturers are embedding radio frequency identification transponders in their products to add value to them.

Our cover story, "Smarter Products Is Smart Business," looks at how and why companies as diverse as Colder Products, Nokia and Robert Bosch Tool Corp. are RFID-enabling their goods. They are using different technologies-UHF Electronic Product Code tags, 13.56 MHz transponders, even 13.56 MHz interrogators-but what they all have in common is that they looked beyond just tracking products in the supply chain and found that RFID could help them to make their products better for their customers.


These manufacturers and their customers are reaping the rewards of RFID-enabled objects. The manufacturers are improving their relationships with their customers, increasing sales or enhancing their ability to maintain or recycle their products. Their customers are able to recoup the slightly higher cost of RFID-enabled products by avoiding manufacturing mistakes, reducing liabilities or cutting down on lost or stolen assets.

Elsewhere in this issue, Daniel Deavours, research director at the RFID Alliance Lab, reports on the performance of EPC Gen 1 UHF item-level tags in our latest Lab Test Report, "Are Item-Level Tags Up to the Job?." The results will give potential users insights into the issues they will face as they move toward tagging unique items for tracking purposes or for other applications.

"Keeping Fresh Foods Fresh" examines the benefits early adopters in the perishable foods industry are seeing. Contributing writer Elizabeth Wasserman explains how companies are using RFID to track more efficiently some of the billions of pounds of produce, fresh meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products shipped around the world. Given the short shelf life of these items, even small improvements in supply chain efficiency can lead to significant savings.

And if the thought of using RFID to track your staff has ever crossed your mind, be sure to read "Access Controlled: Limiting Employee Tracking." The article spells out the dos and don'ts of using RFID-enabled employee badges to keep tabs on the whereabouts of workers.

We are clearly entering a new era for RFID, one in which the technology is no longer a novelty in search of an application, but rather a tool to be used to track goods in the supply chain, control access to facilities and enhance the usefulness of products. The question you should be asking yourself is no longer "Can RFID benefit my company?" but "Where and how can RFID benefit my company-and my customers?"

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.
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