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The Changing RFID Landscape

Interest in RFID grows in energy, manufacturing and retail and picks up more slowly in defense and government.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 23, 2015

There are no hard statistics about the adoption of radio frequency identification technologies. Companies aren't required to report when they deploy a solution, and research firms track overall sales of hardware and software systems, but not the number of deployments or the industries in which they were made. One source of insights into adoption trends, however, is the RFID Journal readership database.

There are currently 102,000 registered readers in the RFID Journal database, up from roughly 64,000 in 2009. When we look at a breakdown of readers by industry and country, it's clear that interest in RFID is growing across all sectors and geographic regions. But interest in some industries is growing faster than in others.

Manufacturing has always been—and continues to be—one of the largest segments of the RFID Journal database. The percentage of manufacturers in our database rose from 6 percent to 7 percent from 2009 to 2012 and to 9 percent in 2015. This growth is also reflected in the increasing number of articles we publish about manufacturing companies worldwide, such as AGC Asahi Glass (Japan), Bosch Rexroth (Germany), Deere-Hitachi (United States), Madshus (Norway) and TECO (Taiwan).

The retail sector is among the hottest for RFID right now, with large, high-profile deployments by Kohl's, Macy's, Marks & Spencer, Target, Tesco and other major companies. News of those deployments has sparked interest among other retailers, and that segment of our database has increased to 5 percent this year, from 3 percent in 2009.

Another sector that has been growing in our database is energy, mining and construction. That sector was flat at 2 percent from 2009 through 2012, but rose to 3 percent in 2015. The decline in oil prices may be encouraging energy companies to look to new technologies to make them more efficient. Government regulations to improve worker safety also may be spurring interest.

The food and agriculture segment, which has always been small, rose from 1 percent to 2 percent from 2012 to 2015. RFID has long been used to track cattle, and more countries are requiring tracking of animals, but these systems are relatively straightforward to deploy and most companies required by regulation to track livestock don't spend much time researching RFID. We believe ranchers are interested in learning about other RFID applications, such as automated milking stations that use RFID to track the amount of milk a particular animal produces. In addition, the number of farms and food producers coming into the database suggests there is growing interest in low-cost temperature sensors that can help keep produce fresh.

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