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BRIDGE Expects to Launch Five European RFID Pilots This Fall

The biggest of the EU-funded projects involve seven pharmaceutical and health-care organizations, using RFID and 2-D bar codes to trace drugs from the point of manufacture to delivery at a pharmacy.
By Beth Bacheldor
Additionally, BRIDGE is preparing a retail pilot to test the use of EPC Gen 2 RFID to track cartons and pallets of clothing from the point of manufacture to the store. The pilot, known as Supply Chain Management in the European Textile Industry (also referred to as WP07), includes Kaufhof Warenhaus (the department store division of retailer Metro AG), retailers El Corte Inglés and Carrefour, clothing manufacturer Gardeur and NorthLand, a sporting equipment and clothing manufacturer. According to Barthel, the pilot is expected to commence in October.

In addition to tracking goods moving across the supply chain, the pilot may also include such in-store applications as using RFID tags to identify individual garments, and installing RFID interrogators in dressing rooms so shoppers can obtain detailed information about items they are trying on, check inventory levels and available sizes, and call a sales associate for assistance. Such an in-store application would likely get underway in early 2008.

Another possible in-store application would involve the use of information terminals or kiosks equipped with RFID interrogators. Deployed on sales floors, the kiosks could provide customers with detailed product information and prices, as well as inventory data, pictures, videos, downloads and additional marketing messages and offers.

French food manufacturer Benedicta Group and Carrefour will participate in BRIDGE's Returnable Transport Items pilot (also known as WP09). This pilot will leverage EPC RFID technology to monitor plastic pallets, crates and other reusable containers for transporting food. BRIDGE hopes to elicit participation from European companies that make and supply reusable containers, though Barthel says none have yet been identified. The pilot's starting date remains undecided.

In November, Sony will embark on a trial leveraging RFID in the supply chain and in post-sales. The pilot will use EPC Gen 2 tags on specific products, Barthel says, making it easier to provide after-sales service, maintenance and warranty information. "This model is probably a bit futuristic," he explains, "but if a TV were to come back because there was a problem, by reading the RFID tag, within a few seconds a company could have a diagnosis of potential problems by knowing when it was manufactured, which parts were used and from where."

Finally, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, BRIDGE is planning a pilot to test RFID's use within manufacturing processes. The project will likely involve the tagging of machinery, crates and other types of equipment used on the factory floor, Barthel says, to ensure proper workflow in the production and assembly of goods, and also to help improve the management of inventory and assets.

BRIDGE has not yet published documents on the services and manufacturing pilots on the Internet.

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