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The Top 10 Stories of 2009

It was a tough year for every industry, so it's no surprise there was both good and bad news for the RFID sector.
By Mark Roberti
Hong Kong Airport Says It Now Uses Only RFID Baggage Tags (May)
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), which serves approximately 48 million passengers annually on flights to 150 locations, announced it was using RFID baggage tags for 100 percent of the 40,000 bags that leave the airport every day. HKIA upgraded its former bar-code-based system with RFID, at a cost of HK$50 million (US$6.5 million). The RFID system, which has a higher read rate than the bar-code system, has improved processing efficiency and reliability, while also increasing capacity.

Airbus Issues RFID Requirements, Expands RFID Usage (July)
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus indicated it had distributed RFID requirements as part of its technical specifications for suppliers worldwide for its A350 extra-wide body (XWB) aircraft. The requirements the company distributed do not impact all Airbus suppliers, but will affect all that provide parts involved in a repair cycle. Carlo K. Nizam, the company's head of value chain visibility and automatic identification, indicated that approximately 2,000 to 5,000 parts could require RFID part-marking by suppliers by 2011 or earlier. The A350 XWB is scheduled to enter into service in 2013.

Motorola Embeds RFID Tags in Its Handheld Computers (November)
Motorola announced it would begin embedding an RFID tag in the handle of every portable handheld computer model it releases. The tags will enable the firm's customers to utilize an RFID interrogator to determine each device's location in a store's backroom, or at a distribution center. In this way, if a computer is misplaced, a handheld reader could be carried through a warehouse to locate the device—or , if someone takes a computer through an RFID portal installed at exit or dock doors, a user could be notified that it is leaving the premises. This was one of the first examples of a major RFID technology provider using RFID in its own products.

DOD Tests, Buys New ISO 18000-7 Tags From Four Companies (October)
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) placed its first order for RFID technology compliant with the ISO 18000-7 standard under its RFID-III contract. The previous RFID-II contract for 433 MHz was based on Savi's proprietary 433 MHz RFID technology, while the new RFID-III contract requires 433 MHz products compliant with the ISO 18000-7 standard and supplied by multiple vendors. By using ISO 18000-7-compliant RFID hardware, the DOD and other U.S. and allied agencies will have a broadened interoperability of their technology.

University Researchers Say RFID's Worth Is Proven When Deployed Enterprise-wide (November)
A study written by four university professors found that RFID offers a significant benefit to companies that fully deploy the technology across their entire business operations or supply chain. The study also revealed that while RFID is gaining momentum when it comes to automating businesses' operational and management functions, few firms have reached the "transformational" stage at which RFID is deployed across multiple operations and departments within a company, as well as across its partners. According to the study's authors, only when businesses fully employ the technology across their own operations, and those of their partners, can RFID provide them with a true competitive advantage.

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