Getting an Edge With RFID

By Mark Roberti

The global economy will face slower growth in the coming years, so companies and organizations will need to become more efficient to increase profits—and many have already figured out that RFID can deliver near- and long-term savings.

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Radio frequency identification was once seen as a technology solely for large companies, such as Airbus, Metro and Walmart. Today, midsize companies also are embracing RFID to gain an edge, finding innovative ways to use the technology to solve business problems or achieve real productivity gains.

Our cover story examines why midsize European companies invested in RFID during the global recession—and why they are expanding their deployments now. Writer John Edwards interviewed five business leaders in key fields—food production, logistics, retail, manufacturing and apparel—to learn what made them decide to invest in RFID during a weak economy (see View From the Top: Five European Business Leaders Speak Out on RFID).

Bereket Döner, an Istanbul-based maker of frozen and ready-to-cook gyros, adopted RFID to expedite order processing and improve inventory management. CEO Bahar Ozrun believes Europe leads the world in RFID adoption and innovation. “We feel that the investment in the technology in Europe is more accepted because of the competitive demands apparent in the EU, coupled with the need to reduce costs and improve efficiencies,” she says.

For Franco Cappelletti, CEO of the Logistics and Traffic Centre, in Perugia, Italy, RFID is an essential tool for managing complex logistics operations. “Our [RFID] project originated based on our company’s need to improve our logistics services in terms of performance, security, control and economic savings,” he says.

Aurélien Sénéchal, COO of Cleor, a French retail jewelry chain, is convinced RFID is essential to continued business success at a time when fewer people are purchasing luxury items. Since 2009, the company has RFID-enabled 50 stores to improve inventory management.

Josef Hipper, CIO of Hymer, a motor-home maker based in Bad Waldsee, Germany, and Göetz Pfeifferling, CEO of Lemmi Fashion, based in Fritzlar, Germany, also explain their reasons for adopting RFID. We’ll showcase more case studies presented by decision-makers of midsize companies at RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2011, our seventh annual conference and exhibition, on Oct. 18-19, in Amsterdam.

In addition to large and midsize companies, local organizations worldwide are adopting RFID to manage waste. The benefits are clear, as exemplified by the RFID system deployed in 2010 by Hattiesburg, Miss. Since its launch, the system has saved the city nearly $1 million through reduced labor, better safety practices, more efficient fuel and fleet maintenance, and improved billing (see Trash Talk).

One key to a successful RFID system, of course, is consistent and reliable reads. Check out our Product Developments section on page 30 to learn how reader antennas designed for specific applications make it easier to monitor myriad items in a wide range of environments.

The global economy will face slower growth in the coming years, so companies and organizations will need to become more efficient to increase profits (see Perspective on page 6). It’s clear many businesses have already figured out that RFID systems can deliver near- and long-term savings.

Photograph: Tom Hurst