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Canada Gets Serious About RFID

Companies attending RFID Journal LIVE! Canada heard numerous success stories and took note.
By Mark Roberti
Nov 13, 2006Canadian companies have a tendency to be fast followers, rather than technology leaders. They often watch their counterparts in the United States, and when a technology is proven south of the border, Canadian companies jump on board and leverage it, sometimes better than the early adopters (data synchronization is a good example). Judging by the buzz last week at Journal LIVE! Canada, which RFID Journal produced in partnership with EPCglobal Canada, it seems companies across Canada are starting to get serious about radio frequency identification.

Our first event in Canada exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance. We had been expecting 200 to 250 people, which would have made it by far the largest RFID event ever held in Canada. We wound up with more than 350 people. But numbers only tell part of the story. Attendees were highly engaged. They listened and asked smart questions about where the speakers were finding benefits. They spent a good deal of time in the exhibit hall, probing vendors about what their solutions could and could not do.

The event featured speakers from Canada who had run successful pilots and in some cases successful implementations. There was an excellent presentation about the pilot run by Staples Business Depot (Canada) and another by Loblaws Co., the largest retailer in Canada. Both provided specific metrics, and while neither company said they planned to roll out RFID Canada-wide, they did indicate they were extremely encouraged and were continuing their work with RFID.

I sat in on a presentation by Daniel Rosetti, director of operations for Can. U.S. Inc., a transportation company. Can. U.S. has been tagging goods on behalf of customers required to meet retail RFID mandates. The company has linked RFID to a GPS system to give customers visibility into the location of their shipments in real time.

Can. U.S. drivers have been given a Pocket PC with a GPS transmitter. The Pocket PC is linked to an RFID interrogator (reader), so the Pocket PC can identify the goods in the truck, and the GPS provides the coordinates of the truck in real time. Can. U.S. has achieved a 3 percent increase in revenue from this value-added service, but there are other benefits as well.

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