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Active RFID Seals Not a Sure Thing, Despite Standard

Research firm ABI Research issued a brief this week with an update to its ongoing coverage of the market from RFID shipping container security. The firm believes that despite the recent ratification of a standard for active RFID-based container security, the market for such technology is not guaranteed to take off.
Oct 10, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 10, 2007—Research firm ABI Research of Oyster Bay, New York, issued a brief this week with an update to its ongoing coverage of the market for RFID shipping container security. The firm believes that despite the recent ratification of a standard for active RFID-based container security, the market for such technology is not guaranteed to take off anytime soon.

Earlier this year, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) moved forward with an active RFID standard for shipping container seals. Known as ISO 18185, it was ratified in anticipation of a US government mandate that seals of containers entering the United States be inspected. However, such a mandate has not materialized.

In the absence of a mandate, asserts ABI, end users are reluctant to adopt ISO 18185 active RFID technology because of its cost. Some end users are considering passive RFID as an alternative. "The cargo tracking and security market is not immune from the active vs. passive cost-benefit-performance debate," ABI's Michael Liard is quoted in the release. ABI notes that passive RFID technology providers have taken note of the situation, and are angling to have their own technology standardized for container seals.

There are also many end users that have decided to do nothing for the moment, adopting a wait-and-see attitude about whether any mandate is really forthcoming.

The US government has touted ancillary benefits to active RFID container seals, such as expedited shipment processing, but these are not compelling enough on their own to drive adoption. ABI calls these benefits the carrot, while an actual mandate would be the stick. According to ABI's Mike Ippoliti, "So far the US government has wielded the 'carrot' of expedited processing of sealed containers, rather than the 'stick' of a legal mandate. That carrot has not been tasty enough to tempt any of the interested parties."

Read the brief from ABI Research
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