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A Practical Approach at EPC Connection

Attendees at EPCglobal's fourth annual conference and exhibition were focused on practical applications for EPC technologies that can deliver benefits today.
By Mark Roberti
This year, we began to climb up the "Slope of Enlightenment." This is the stage of the hype cycle where, in Gartner's words, businesses "experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology."

We saw this trend begin in late April, at RFID Journal LIVE! 2007, where attendees were focused on specific applications. Many were looking to use RFID within their four walls, to track, for example, reusable assets and work-in-process.

Because EPC Connection is focused solely on Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies, which are all about achieving benefits across the entire supply chain, there was a greater interest in cross-supply-chain applications. No pie-in-the-sky talk about transforming the supply chain, but a lot of discussion about how partners can work together to use the data EPC tags can generate.

Carolyn Walton, Wal-Mart's VP of information technology, stated it best when, during a keynote panel, she said her company was focused on deploying RFID in a way that drives business processes and business benefits. She revealed three new RFID initiatives: tagging by 700 Sam's Club suppliers, a study of the impact of tagging all cases of product in a specific category (Wal-Mart chose low-value air fresheners for the test) and an effort to work with suppliers to track more promotional items bound for highly trafficked areas in its stores (see Wal-Mart, Sam's Club Push RFID Further Along).

Other end users I spoke to were launching, or had already launched, RFID projects of a more limited scope. That is, they weren't looking to boil the ocean by focusing on an industry-wide rollout. Instead, they were working with a single partner that ships a lot of parts or raw materials to them, and sharing information to improve the replenishment process.

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