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RFID4SME Seeks to Help Small-to-Midsize European Companies

Four research institutes in Ireland, Spain and Germany are carrying out RFID information campaigns, demonstration projects and proof-of-concept studies for SMEs in their regions.
By Rhea Wessel
The Fundación Centro Tecnológico de Componentes, also a nonprofit foundation, is funded by corporations that want to increase the region's competitiveness. It receives project-related funding from the Cantabrian government. The focus of its RFID activities is on spreading information in the region and organizing events, seminars and training courses. The CTC's demonstrations will use RFID to track people within a 30-meter-long zone, and to detect and identify moving toy slot cars. Its next event, "RFID Para PYMEs," will be held Feb. 22 in Santander, with the next training course, also in Santander, scheduled to take place from April 23 to April 27.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, part of Europe's largest applied research society, conducts a great deal of contract research for large companies. But like its partners in RFID4SME, IML is also determined to help small and midsize companies. Interested SMEs can visit the IML headquarters and tour an RFID demo lab called the OpenID Center. IML has been assisting SMEs with their initial RFID tests, one of which showed a packaging service provider how it could do dock-door and forklift identification with RFID. In another project, the IML is helping a company develop transponders able to track maintenance information for hospital beds.

In Germany, other efforts to support SMEs outside the RFID4SME project include a regional SME project in North Rhine Westphalia (the RFID Support Center), as well as a brochure prepared by the Informationsforum RFID, a business group that includes DHL, Metro Group, Intermec and P&G (see Web Site Teaches German Consumers About RFID).

The brochure, intended to inform SMEs about the basics of RFID, offers positive examples of small companies and organizations that have already implemented RFID, such as Herding AG (see RFID Brings ROI to Air-Filter Maker) and the city of Warendorf (RFID Keeps City Sewers Running Smoothly).

Ireland's Doody sums up the work of the four institutes: "Over time, and through projects like RFID4SME, we can show SMEs that there is a valid reason for using RFID, and it can be done. Awareness and education will be a key driver."

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