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GS1 Smart Centre Expands RFID Education

The facility, run by GS1 Norway, has hosted more than 1,200 visitors during its first year.
Posted By Mark Roberti, 09.07.2011
To the larger business community, it must seem as though very little is currently happening in the RFID industry, since no major deployments have been announced. But the truth is that a lot is going on, including new product developments, deployments—some public, others kept quiet—and education. Facilities such as the GS1 Smart Centre, in Oslo, Norway, are doing a great job of educating end users about how automatic-identification technologies and GS1 standards can deliver new efficiencies.

I have not yet had the chance to visit the facility—I plan to do so next year—but Anders Askevold, the center's manager, tells me that it has had more than 1,200 visitors since its opening in 2010. "This is far beyond our goals for the first year in operation," he says.

The GS1 Smart Centre includes an RFID/EPC Test Centre, and is supported by 42 partners, including Accenture, ACT System, IBM, Intermec, Microsoft, SAP and Visma. Unlike some laboratories, the GS1 Smart Centre is not focused primarily on hardware and hardware testing. It has several EPC Information Services (EPCIS) installations, including two IBM traceability servers, a complete SAP installation (including Object Event Repository) and BizTalk RFID Server. Microsoft Dynamics Ax is used as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for the showcases.

The Smart Centre features a multimedia display and a presentation screen mounted on three large walls. Behind the scenes, 14 PCs and a server control 14 projectors to display presentations, videos, pictures and applications, such as SAP and SAP OER, Microsoft's Dynamics Ax with Biztalk RFID Server, and IBM's InfoSphere Traceability Server. These presentations show the use of technology and standards in the value chain.

The focus is on how these technologies and standards can deliver value today—not at some time in the future. In the warehouse area, there is an explanation of the application developed by local integrator ACT System Scandinavia for Minera Norge, a producer of stone for building construction (see 2010 RFID Journal Award: Minera Norge Takes RFID to the Arctic Edge).

The center's showroom is divided into four areas—smart factory, smart transportation, smart apparel and smart wholesale store—in which the processes are demonstrated through various showcases. "Visitors will get a deeper understanding of how standards, technology and cooperation contribute to efficient trade and logistics, to see the entire value chain as a whole," Askevold explains. "They will also be able to see the outlines of the future value chain. New technology opens up incredible opportunities, which are made visible here."

The center offers comprehensive courses and seminars for partners and Norwegian companies, boosting awareness of the capabilities of EPC RFID systems and GS1 standards, and helping people to develop RFID skills.

I've written about similar GS1 centers in Colombia, Mexico and elsewhere (see RFID in Bogotá, GS1 Colombia Provides EPCIS Service, GS1 Colombia's RFID Retail Challenge and GS1 Mexico Opens Knowledge Center). These facilities are extremely valuable in educating people worldwide about how standards and RFID technologies create new efficiencies—and they offer many services that can help end users get started with a project that could deliver real value.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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