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Latin America Gets Serious About RFID

End users at RFID Journal LIVE! LatAm were highly engaged and eager to explore how radio frequency identification can improve the way they do business.
By Mark Roberti
Sep 06, 2010Last week, we hosted our first RFID Journal LIVE! Latin America, in partnership with LOGyCA. We had 231 attendees, which exceeded my expectations, given that it was our first event in a region that has been a step behind in adopting radio frequency identification technologies. Most attendees came from Colombia, which was no surprise since the event was held in Bogotá. We also had attendees from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and the United States.

The attendees came from some of the major manufacturing companies in the region, including Cementos Argos (a major producer of cement), C.I. Hermeco (apparel), Colcafé (coffee), Familia Sancela (personal health and hygiene products), Harinera del Valle (food products), Honeywell, Mabe (home appliances), Noel (cookies and candies), Manufacturas Eliot (apparel), Unilever (consumer products) and Vestimundo Crystal (apparel). Among the retailers present were Almacenes Éxito, Carrefour, Falabella, Grupo Éxito, Liverpool, Olimpica and Nicolukas.

We had several great speakers from the United States. James Kress, of ADT, detailed some of the retail apparel projects in the United States on which the firm has worked. Dave Blackford updated the audience regarding the U.S. Department of Defense's RFID efforts. Ian Robertson, of GS1 EPCglobal, informed attendees about how companies are using GS1 standards, including the Electronic Product Code (EPC), to achieve visibility, and he also briefed them on how ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags can be used in anti-theft applications. Sanjay Sarma, the co-founder and director of research at the Auto-ID Center at MIT, which developed the EPC concept, discussed why adoption has been slower than expected, and why businesses need to continue pursuing RFID to improve supply chain operations.

As great as these speakers were, the case studies from Latin America stole the show. Liverpool's Luis Vicente Ortega, in particular, wowed the audience with the ways in which the company is using RFID technology to improve its operations. The firm began a full-scale rollout in 2008, and last year began RFID-tracking all clothing cartons moving from distribution centers to stores. It has tagged all reusable containers, and reports that it achieves 100 percent read rates. In the stores, Liverpool has reduced the time required to take inventory from four hours down to 25 minutes.

Grupo Éxito explained how it is employing RFID technology within its supply chain. Elkin Alonzo Diez, Familia Sancela's supplier relationship manager, discussed the challenges his company faced in setting up portals and screening them so that products coming in through one dock door would not be read by readers at another door. I love when speakers do this, because attendees can learn from the challenges early adopters had to overcome. (It's a hallmark of RFID Journal events that we invite end users who speak objectively about the technology.)

Sonia del Pilar Acuna Duran, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia's director of information technology and communications, spoke about how Almacafé, the federation's warehousing arm, is employing RFID to track premium coffee beans from the moment they are picked until they are sold to coffee producers. This project won this year's RFID Journal Award for Best Use of RFID in a Product or Service (see 2010 RFID Journal Award: RFID Helps Ensure That Special Cup of Joe).


Gabriel Fregoso 2010-09-20 08:10:49 AM
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein Hello Mark, I was looking for comments regarding the talk from Sergio Arai from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstain in your article, but surprinsingly I noticed you do not mention his presentation at the LATAM RFID Journal event. Can you provide some highlights of his presentation? Thank you, Gabriel
Mark Roberti 2010-09-20 09:56:50 AM
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein Unfortunately, I was not in the room for Sergio's entire presentation. But we have written an article on it that I think you will find valuable: http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/7639

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