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US Government Expands RFID File Tracking

3M landed its second major government contract for RFID file-tracking last week from the U.S. Tax Court, which will deploy the company's RFID Tracking System to improve the tracking and retrieval process of its more than 100,000 paper case files.
Jul 10, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 10, 2006—3M landed its second major government contract for RFID file-tracking last week from the U.S. Tax Court, which will deploy the 3M RFID Tracking System to improve the tracking and retrieval process of its more than 100,000 case files. The U.S. Tax Court is following in the footsteps of its sibling federal agency, the U.S. Tax Division, which has also purchased 3M's RFID file-tracking solution.

The goal of RFID file tracking is to improve the efficiency with which paper files are handled within an organization. One can imagine that in organizations like government agencies, law practices, accounting firms, medical offices, and hospitals, the file volume is immense and unwieldy. Generally, the systems in place to deal with this volume are crude and prone to error. There is a high cost associated with the many labor hours spent retrieving, returning, and tracking down files, let alone the additional resources necessary when lost files need to be recreated or result in litigation.

This naked inefficiency is ripe for a technological solution, and passive RFID has emerged as a favorite choice. Chief among the vendors offering RFID file-tracking solutions is $21 billion conglomerate 3M, which has been the most aggressive company going after this market. Last year the company snagged a five-year schedule contract from the General Services Administration which allows it streamlined access to sell RFID file-tracking services across the U.S. federal government. The Tax Court and Tax Division are the first two agencies that 3M has won as a result.

Despite the seeming obviousness of RFID to clean up the world's messy file-keeping, it does not yet appear to be a "hot" market (see 3M and the Appeal of RFID File Tracking). First, past solutions used high frequency RFID and were quite expensive. Furthermore, as in early supply chain deployments, file-tracking implementations were plagued with performance issues. However, the ever increasing performance and decreasing cost of UHF RFID means that the solutions will only get better and more affordable. In time, file-tracking may indeed become one of the more active niches for RFID.

Read the announcement from 3M
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