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University of Maryland Offers Free RFID Assessments

The University of Maryland has announced an initiative to offer free RFID assessments to manufacturing companies in the state that are considering deployment. The idea is to spur the adoption of RFID among Maryland companies by working with them to understand how the technology can yield better productivity.
Aug 10, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 10, 2007—The University of Maryland's Maryland Technology Extension Service (MTES) has announced an initiative to offer free RFID assessments to manufacturing companies in the state that are considering deployment. The idea is to spur the adoption of RFID among Maryland companies by working with them to understand how the technology can yield better productivity.

"Our program is all about making companies in the state of Maryland become more productive," MTES manager Paul Vinikoor told RFID Update. "We want to let companies know about RFID because we think it can help them become much more productive." RFID will become one of various functional areas, like lean manufacturing, that the MTES has incorporated into its portfolio of expertise.

MTES is a so-called Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) under the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Subsidized by federal, state, local, and private sources, MEPs employ an experienced staff to help their area manufacturing firms improve and become more competitive. There are more than 300 MEPs scattered around the country with the stated purpose to "provide small and medium sized manufacturers with the services they need to succeed." While they are not-for-profit organizations, the idea is that helping area firms become more competitive will yield more corporate profits and, ultimately, tax revenue for the state.

MTES is not the first MEP to offer RFID expertise to its constituents. Vinikoor indicated that his counterparts in Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas among others, have RFID programs in place, a number of which have proved very successful.

The free assessments from MTES will include evaluation of the business's issues, determination of whether an RFID solution is viable, and estimation of the cost and return on investment of such a solution. Vinikoor said he hoped that participating companies will be those that come with well-defined pain points they suspect could be solved by RFID. "RFID is certainly not a panacea for all companies," he said. "One has to look at each company individually to determine RFID's potential application." The offer is limited to six to ten companies, which Vinikoor believes is realistic given the limitation that they must be Maryland-based.

Assessment is only the first phase of an RFID deployment, explained Vinikoor. Feasibility studies and the actual implementation come later. Those are services the MTES could also provide, but for a fee. Vinikoor noted that their fees are considerably lower than market rates thanks to their subsidization.

Vinikoor, who has earned RFID+ certification himself, said that the MTES may also roll out an RFID training program later in the year.

Read the announcement from MTES
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