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Best Practices in RFID

The three end-user companies that won our 2009 RFID Journal Awards are quite different, yet all had similar strategies leading to their success.
By Mark Roberti
May 25, 2009The May/June issue of RFID Journal's print magazine will feature case studies of the three end-user companies that won the 2009 RFID Journal Awards, handed out at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! event (see Vögele, Vail, FOCUS and ODIN Technologies Win RFID Journal Awards).

One goal of the awards is to show how radio frequency identification can be used to benefit a wide array of business, and that's certainly true with our winners, which work in the hospitality, publishing and retail industries. Yet, as I read the articles, it was clear all three winners conducted their projects in a similar way, and that led to their success. Here are the strategies they had in common, which should become best practices for everyone.

An open-minded approach. Each winner—Charles Vögele Group, Vail Resorts and Focus Magazine—began with a goal and kept an open mind about how to achieve it. These companies did not get locked into a particular technology or system, and were willing to go in new directions to achieve their goals. Vail, for instance, wanted to replace the bar-code equipment it used with lift tickets with an RFID system. But rather than install gates to read high-frequency (HF) tags, as most other ski resorts have done, Vail opted for an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) system that was less intrusive for the skiers and more cost-effective for the company.

A team effort. The award winners showed that it's critical to engage your hardware and software vendors as partners. Checkpoint Systems was so vital to Charles Vögele's efforts to track goods from source to point of sale that Thomas Beckmann, the retail chain's head of supply chain, invited Checkpoint representatives on stage to accept the award with him. Infineon Technologies, meanwhile—which was sold to RF-iT Solutions—took on the challenge of helping Focus devise a system that could record when someone was looking at ads on particular pages.

Vail Resorts showed that it's critical to engage not only RFID partners, but also employees in different departments. Its operation team, which would use the RFID equipment, provided critical input. That group's support for switching to RFID helped secure funding for the project.

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