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Software for Bar Codes and RFID

GenuOne unveils unit-level product tracking software for RFID systems and other tagging technologies.
By Bob Violino
Sep 11, 2003By Samuel Greengard

Sept. 12, 2003 - Many companies are struggling to figure out how they will manage a steady stream of data from both bar code systems and RFID devices. GenuOne wants to help. The Boston, Mass. software firm, which specializes in systems designed to thwart counterfeiting and diversion, has unveiled TraceGuard 2.5. The tracking application and database support bar code technology as well as RFID tags and readers from most major vendors,
GenuOne's Unger
including Alien Technology, Matrics, Philips Semiconductors and Texas Instruments.

TraceGuard enables suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and service centers to share information within a central Web-based platform. The application runs on Unix, Linux, and Windows 2000, or companies can choose to have GenuOne host the application. TraceGuard offers a discrete database that's designed for high-level, high-volume transactions. It can interface with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, as well as warehouse management systems (WMS) and inventory management systems using XML and other languages and tools.

"The product gives companies an unparallel ability to track and trace items throughout the value chain," says Jeffrey Unger, CEO of GenuOne. "If a product shows up some place where it is not supposed to be, it's possible to know about the situation immediately."

Among other things, TraceGuard provides unit-level inventory control, streamlined location and recovery of non-conforming product, gray market control, anti-counterfeiting tools, real-time visibility into product movements and warranty fraud detection.

TraceGuard generates a unique internal system identifier for each object and then correlates the identifier with an external identifier, such as a Universal Product Code, lot number or RFID serial number. Because the application works with both bar codes and RFID systems, it provides a high level of flexibility. For example, a manufacturer could use bar code technology to label individual units and cartons. And at the case and pallet levels, the manufacturer could turn to more efficient and cost-effective RFID, while overseeing the entire process from a single application.

Unger believes that TraceGuard offers benefits for numerous industries, including consumer products, apparel, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and luxury goods. "There's no hard code and no strict rules," he says. "It's designed to fit a company's processes and workflow."

Although TraceGuard typically costs $300,000 to $1 million for an annual license, Unger doesn't think that the expense of the software will be a hurdle. "ERP solutions aren't designed to handle this type of data, and adding the capabilities to an SAP or JD Edwards can prove more costly and time consuming," he says. "The goal isn't to circumvent existing systems, it's to complement them."

TraceGuard can also serve as a sophisticated asset management tool, and it offers advanced data mining and analytics. Not only is it able to push data to other enterprise systems, it can pull selected data out. "The reporting capabilities can provide insights into how to manage a value chain and business more effectively," Unger says. "This is a step forward in the evolution of RFID."

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