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GS1 UK Launches Nationwide RFID Pilot

The trial's purpose is to enable participants to share RFID-related data by means of applications based on EPCglobal's EPCIS standard.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 31, 2007In an effort to bring RFID users together across the United Kingdom, GS1 UK is launching a pilot that will enable participants to share RFID-related data by means of applications based on EPCglobal's Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard. EPCIS is an EPCglobal standard for sharing EPC-related information between trading partners.

GS1 UK is offering the pilot service based on EPCIS software provided by BEA Systems and hosted by British Telecom Auto ID. The service features a set of EPCIS data repositories that can be updated and accessed via the Internet, together with various reports based on the repository data, accessible online. GS1 UK hopes to attract businesses across multiple industries to work together on their RFID deployments.

David Weatherby
Several companies are preparing to join the pilot, says GS1 UK's senior consultant, David Weatherby, though they are still in the discussion stages at this point. The trial will extend into mid 2008, he explains, with each user able to create, access and share the use of its own EPCIS Web site, where it can store data related to RFID reads. The goal of this pilot, Weatherby says, is to bring businesses together as they develop RFID pilots and move to deployments.

"In the U.K., there is already a fair amount of activity in RFID," Weatherby says. However, he adds, "in most cases, companies are building business cases around their own applications. We're trying to drive that further into the supply chains and get people talking to each other." Often, Weatherby notes, companies conducting independent RFID pilots develop proprietary systems that do not lend themselves to data sharing with other supply chain members.

EPCIS-based applications could bring those parties together, Weatherby maintains, by acting as a hub for all RFID-related data. During the pilot, each user will be able to direct EPC data specific to product movements to its own EPCIS site, hosted by BT Auto ID at no cost, with assistance from GS1 UK. Participants will then be able to share that data with those approved to enter their site.

Eventually, Weatherby says, GS1 UK may consider providing a free, permanent Internet-based EPCIS repository service to smaller companies unable to afford their own individual sites. The companies could then update data within their EPCIS repository online, run reports from the repository data and allow business partners to access selected information.

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