Aug 01, 2008Many businesspeople first heard about radio frequency identification back in 2003, when Wal-Mart announced that it would require its largest suppliers to start putting RFID tags on pallets and cases beginning in January 2005. Since then, the technology has been associated with big business. That's too bad, because a lot of midsize (and small) companies can benefit from the technology.
Our cover story in this issue looks at how midsize companies in distribution, entertainment, health care, pharmaceuticals and other industries are benefiting from RFID technology today. Some midsize companies have agreed to tag shipments to retail customers, even if they're not required to, in an effort to improve their relationship with large retailers. Others are deploying applications similar to those being rolled out at Global 1000 companies, including tracking reusable transport containers, tools and large assets.
But as our article makes clear, midsize companies face some special challenges when it comes to deploying RFID (and other technologies). They don't have the financial and human resources to set up dedicated teams to research, test and deploy new applications, so they're finding innovative ways to meet their goals and try to stay a step ahead of their competition.
Those challenges are not insurmountable, as our market research report shows. Of the midsize companies that responded to our recent survey, slightly more than 25 percent said they have launched RFID pilots or begun deploying the technology. Roughly two-thirds said they were actively exploring the potential benefits.
Logistics companies large and small are clearly moving forward with RFID. Our Vertical Focus reveals how logistics providers are using the technology internally to track reusable assets, and how they're providing greater visibility for their customers by sharing RFID tracking data. The technology also could help chemical manufacturers meet government requirements for maintaining a chain-of-custody record for regulated or potentially hazardous goods.
Whatever size your company is, you might need to turn to an objective source for help in solving deployment issues. RFID labs have been popping up around the world to assist end users. Generally, they fall into three categories: research, testing and training. Our Lab Report looks at the different services each type of lab provides, and shows how various types of companies can use those services. We've also included a handy table that can steer you to a lab in your region.
There are no easy answers when it comes to deploying RFID. That's because the technology can be used in such a variety of ways by different companies in different industries. But many companies are finding the technology is a good fit for their needs.