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UK Organizations Seek RFID Pilot Partners

GS1 UK, which represents RFID standards body EPCglobal in the United Kingdom, and technology services provider BT Auto-ID Services are seeking UK companies to participate in a pilot of the EPCIS RFID data sharing standard.
Nov 02, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 2, 2007—Standards body GS1 UK and technology services provider BT Auto-ID Services are seeking participants for a planned trial of the EPCIS RFID data exchange standard in the UK. GS1 UK is the United Kingdom representative of EPCglobal, which completed the standard earlier this April (see RFID Data Sharing Standard EPCIS is Ratified).

EPCIS defines a standard set of methods by which EPC data from RFID or other sensor technology can be captured, processed, formatted, and shared among trusted trading partners. EPCglobal President Chris Adcock has said the EPCIS standard "... may have much more of a transformational impact on the industry than the [2004] release of the UHF Gen2 passive RFID standard."

"We at EPCglobal have been saying the technology is there; EPC numbers are there; Gen2 is there. What we need to prove is that the aggregation of RFID data can provide some fantastic and valuable business information," David Lyon, EPCglobal business manager in the UK, told RFID Update.

GS1 and BT Auto-ID Services are designing the pilot to help organizations track the flow of goods through their supply chains, to illustrate the capabilities and value of EPCIS. BT servers will host EPCIS middleware from BEA Systems that will facilitate data exchange among pilot participants. No companies have committed to the pilot yet, but since the invitation was issued last month GS1 UK has received 42 expressions of interest, including some from continental Europe. The pilot is not targeting any specific industries.

"We are not aligned to any one vertical market. This is about data," Lyon said. "Data in the supply chain is completely agnostic. The more vertical industries that participate, the better."

Potential applications include container tracking, product authentication, electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), chain of custody, returns management, promotion tracking, and even baggage tracking. Lyon said the pilot can give organizations more detailed supply chain data than they have received before, such as input from temperature or vibration sensors to monitor the condition of goods in transit.

Lyon said no UK companies are currently using EPCIS, and there are no international applications where organizations link multiple EPCIS nodes to exchange data. "I don't think anyone internationally has connected [multiple] EPCIS's," he said. "That is the endgame for the EPCglobal network. If our pilot could connect multiple EPCIS's, it would be the start of the endgame."

Several software products already support the EPCIS standard, and EPCglobal's track-and-trace electronic pedigree standard is based on it (see E-Pedigree Standard Ratified, Supports RFID). Leading European retailer METRO has gone beyond pilot and incorporated EPCIS into its ongoing RFID systems that support retail operations (see METRO Unveils Warehouse-to-Checkout RFID System and Why METRO's Item-Level RFID Deployment Matters).

In the US, EPCIS is currently being piloted in a collaborative project with more than two dozen movie studios, entertainment distributors, electronics retailers, and technology providers to track DVDs through the supply chain (see DVD Movies to Star in Retail RFID Pilot). About a year ago EPCglobal piloted EPCIS for tracking containers shipped between Japan and Hong Kong (see EPCglobal Launches Major RFID Pilot in Asia).

Read the announcement from GS1 UK
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