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Awards Entries Show RFID Is Maturing

The submissions for the RFID Journal Awards in the end-user categories exemplify how the technology is being deployed in more sophisticated ways that add business value.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 14, 2011This is the fifth year of the RFID Journal Awards, and it has been fascinating to watch the industry's evolution through the prism of the awards submissions. In the first two or three years, the judges were nearly unanimous in picking winners, since there were only one or two sophisticated deployments leveraging the data that radio frequency identification enables companies to capture, while others were either pilots or relatively simple uses of RFID.

Last year, things began to change, and there was less unanimity among the judges as a result. There were more submissions, many of which were projects that could have won in early years. It became more difficult to choose only three finalists for each award.

That continues to be the case this year. Take, for example, the three finalists for Best RFID Implementation. Gerry Weber International isn't using RFID on just a few products, or just on cartons, or just in its warehouse. It has created a solution that integrates RFID tags into the product-care labels of all of its clothing, so items can be tracked from factories to multiple warehouses and on to 200 stores. The system is designed to both reduce theft and improve inventory management.

Steinmetz Diamonds, one of the world's largest diamond groups, purchases rough diamonds and processes them into finished polished stones ready for sale. The whole process involves many stages and requires high-value stones to be handled by many people at different locations. Using RFID to manage the process is enabling the company to have 24-7 track-and-trace inventory visibility, monitoring and control, to increase efficiencies in the processing of diamonds, while also improving security. Not bad.

And John Deere is taking an enterprise approach to deploying RFID, with a goal of achieving "asset visibility from end to end in the value chain." The project it submitted involves using RFID to provide visibility of work-in-process, finished goods inventory and, ultimately, channel inventory. "This project is for the benefit of both our factories," the submission explains, "and, in the longer run, our highly valued dealer channel."

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