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When Are Standards-Based Systems Necessary?

Posted By RFID Journal, 12.02.2011
For which applications should companies use RFID solutions based on the EPCglobal standards, versus those that do not require the standards?

—Name withheld

Radio frequency identification is an enabling technology, and the applications that it enables are limitless, so I wouldn't be able to provide a detailed list of applications for which you could use solutions based on EPCglobal standards, or those that do not require the standards. The list would go on forever.

I can say, though, that any applications that involve the sharing of supply chain data should use EPCglobal's standards, which were designed for that very purpose. The standards include not just the air-interface protocol, but also how to format data on a tag, how to structure data about a tag read (the time, place and business process involved when the tag was read) and how to share information using Internet-standard communication protocols and standardized interfaces (this is known as EPC Information Services, or EPCIS).

If you are using ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags solely within your company—say, to track returnable assets or tools—then you do not necessarily require EPCglobal standards. Keep in mind, however, that the EPC system for sharing data with external partners also makes it easy to share information with internal applications. Setting up an internal EPCIS allows different IT systems within your business to access RFID data without a lot of customer application-programming interfaces (APIs).

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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