A Challenge for Our Award Judges

By Mark Roberti

The deployments presented at this year's RFID Journal Awards touch deep into companies' operations and deliver significant financial or safety benefits.

  • TAGS

When we introduced the RFID Journal Awards in 2007 to highlight successful implementations of radio frequency identification technology, there were one or two good deployments in each category, and the judges were usually in broad agreement on who deserved the award. Over the past two years, there have been more strong submissions and less unity among the judges. That’s a good thing. The use of RFID is clearly gaining traction, and companies are embracing the technology in new and important ways. “The job gets tougher each year,” says one judge, who has rated entries from the beginning.

Gerry Weber International, the German women’s clothing designer and retail chain, which won this year’s RFID Journal Award for Best RFID Implementation, has one of the most ambitious RFID deployments we’ve seen yet. It involves some 240 outsourced manufacturing partners in China, Turkey and other countries, as well as a company-owned plant in Romania, a handful of third-party transport and warehouse logistics partners, and roughly 200 House of Gerry Weber stores in Germany. One benefit: 2 percent to 3 percent higher turnover at the store level (see story).

Royal Caribbean International, which won for Best Use of RFID to Enhance a Product or Service, developed a system that lets passengers on any of its 22 ships pay a flat fee for as many soft drink refills as they like, without having to handle money or wait in line (see story). Sales of the refill package jumped 107 percent on the initial test ship, which represented an increase of more than $435,000 profit in soda fountain sales. Not bad.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory shared the award for Most Innovative Use of RFID for an RFID sensor system that will let DOE managers access a continuously updated database of nuclear materials (see story). The system, not yet deployed, could be used to pinpoint the location of a specific container within seconds, providing the visibility necessary to keep the nuclear materials safe and secure. It would allow, for the first time, item-level tracking and monitoring of individual containers and could provide early warning of a toxic leak.

We introduced a “green” award this year for the use of RFID to improve the environment, which went to Mission Foods for a system that makes it economically feasible to replace disposable boxes with returnable containers (see story). Intelleflex was recognized for its new temperature-monitoring tags, which make it more cost-effective to track perishables (see story). And Impinj‘s Chris Diorio earned our special achievement award for his work in creating the EPC Gen 2 air-interface protocol standard (see story).

It’s great to see progress in the form of robust deployments that touch deep into companies’ operations and, in many cases, deliver significant financial or safety benefits. We invite you to share your stories by entering next year’s RFID Journal Awards contest. I have no doubt there will be even more impressive entries, but our judges are up to the challenge.