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News from RFID Journal LIVE! 2007

At this year's conference, Microsoft announced the general availability of the beta version of BizTalk RFID, while technology vendors talked about moving their products—and customer deployments—from pilot to production.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 04, 2007At this week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2007 conference in Orlando, approximately 2,500 attendees heard a number of first-hand accounts of end users' experiences with RFID deployments in a range of industries and applications.

Carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries discussed its decision to expand its RFID system to 40 distribution centers, based on the satisfactory performance it has seen from RFID tags and readers, as well as a compelling business case for investing further in the technology.

Orlando-based pallet and container provider CHEP relayed several success stories resulting from the release of the hosted offering it announced this year. This offering is designed to help its customers track materials through manufacturing processes, or to track finished products through the supply chain, using RFID-tagged containers or pallets (see CHEP Announces New RFID-Enabled Container-Tracking Service).

CHEP's senior vice president of marketing, Brian Beattie, told conference attendees that a CHEP customer in Brazil has reduced its labor costs, order-processing time and transportation expenses by employing CHEP's service to track containers and their contents within its facilities. Improved product visibility, he said, has enabled the company to reduce the amount of facility space it uses for inventory storage by 30 percent.

The CHEP offering uses a software platform called Track & Trace, made by Quebec-based e-business software provider Cactus Commerce. Cactus developed Track & Trace as an application utilizing RFID data collected by Microsoft's BizTalk RFID platform for managing auto-ID devices. At the conference, Microsoft announced the general availability of the beta version of BizTalk RFID, adding that the first release of the software's final version will take place in the third quarter of this year.

Nearly 10 end users are already making use of the software—which collects data from RFID readers and other auto-ID devices, while also performing basic data processing on the information. Additionally, more than 100 technology providers have built on BizTalk RFID to create their software, hardware or service offerings. Companies can download the beta software from the Microsoft Web site.

Aerospace contract manufacturer Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing is working with Microsoft to use the beta version of BizTalk RFID in collecting RFID tag data for work-in-process automation. Killdeer is linking that data to the manufacturing resource management module that will be part of Microsoft's Dynamic GP (formerly Great Plains) business-management software (see Aerospace Contractor Using RFID to Enable Just-in-Time).

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