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RFID Skeptics Embrace RFID

After hearing numerous case studies presented by early adopters at the RFID Journal—AAFA Apparel & Footwear Summit, some attendees said they would recommend their companies start pilots.
By Mark Roberti
Aug 27, 2007A lot of people are still skeptical about radio frequency identification technology. At the RFID Journal—AAFA Apparel & Footwear Summit, some said they were curious to learn what's going on in their industry, but that they didn't believe RFID would work well enough to deliver benefits for their company. Others came away believing the investment wasn't worth the time and effort, because their supply chains were already very efficient, but still wanted to hear about other companies' experiences.

By the end of the event, several people had a change of heart and planned to recommend their companies at least launch a pilot and begin exploring the potential benefits. Why such a change of heart? Because they'd heard from early adopters who explained the real-world benefits they've been getting from the technology, and they had a chance to see and experience the technology firsthand in the exhibit hall.

The event covered every aspect of the apparel and footwear supply chain—from managing raw materials to improving the shopping experience in stores. Bridget Chan, CIO of Esquel, a major Hong Kong-based shirt manufacturer, showed how her company uses RFID to track the different qualities of cotton it gets from China, and how the company tracks work-in-process as cotton is spun into yarn, the yarn is woven into fabric and the fabric is sewn into shirts.

After Chan's presentation, another speaker came up to me and said, "That was fascinating. I'm going to talk to our suppliers in Asia to see if they are tracking quality like that."

Götz Pfeifferling, CIO of Lemmi Fashion, a German seller of children's clothes, explained how his company provided tags and interrogators to suppliers in Asia so they could tag the goods and read the tags before shipping the apparel items to Germany. Lemmi, which offers up to 64 different colors and sizes for each style, was having problems managing inventory accurately and was, thus, unable to get the right items to its retail customers.

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