RedPrairie Debuts RFID App Module

By Bob Violino

The logistics software provider's RFID Accelerator is billed as a first step on the migration path to RFID.


By Jonathan Collins

July 17, 2003 – Logistics systems specialist RedPrairie Corp has introduced a software module that adds RFID capabilities to existing logistics systems. The company is targeting its customers — and those of its rivals.

RedPrairie’s Magidson

“RFID is absolutely an opportunity for us to grow our business among our existing users and to get into new accounts,” says Diane Magidson, RedPrairie’s product strategy leader.

Manhattan Associates and Provia Software are two competitors that have already upgraded their software or introduced RFID-related products. RedPrairie says its RFID Accelerator will enable manufacturers running its DLx Warehouse product, as well as other packaged or legacy software, to add RFID capabilities to their systems.

The bolt-on module uses software agents to collect and verify RFID tag information, retrieve related inventory data and pass this combined information to the manufacturer’s retailer customers in advance shipping notices. Because the module keeps distribution operations independent of the data capture source, RFID can be deployed without disrupting existing operations, Magidson says.

RedPrairie decided to release the module now because of swelling interest in RFID following Wal-Mart’s July announcement outlining a 2005 deadline for RFID information-sharing requirements for its suppliers (see Wal-Mart Draws Line in the Sand).

The RFID Accelerator enables the delivery of RFID information about pallets and cases that Wal-Mart will require. “The market was on hold until about a month ago when Wal-Mart made its announcement,” says Magidson. “Over the next few months, companies will start realizing that if Wal-Mart and other major retailers seriously push the RFID compliance initiative, they had better get their act together.”

RedPrairie has been working on RFID for a couple of years. Back in 2001, it founded the RFID Center of Excellence with several customers, including Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. Based on learnings coming out of that effort, RedPrairie says deploying RFID successfully remains far from easy.

“Piloting and rolling out RFID is not simple, for reasons of lack of proven standards, reader accuracy concerns, frequency stability, infrastructure readiness, and overall ability to use the data to analyze performance and benchmark success of failure,” says Magidson.

The software vendor is positioning Accelerator as the first step in a gradual RFID transition, which RedPrairie plans to enable through its software. The migration starts with enabling customer to comply with retailer’s requirements, then enables a transition from current barcode environments and finally reaches a hands-free environment using RFID.

Going for a gradual transition to RFID can also significantly reduce up-front expenses, according to Magidson. “Upgrading an entire logistics system can cost seven digits and above,” she says.

RedPrairie says it’s preparing a number of RFID trials with existing customers over the next three months. The pilots will use technology from a range of suppliers, including Alien Technology, GlobeRanger, OAT Systems, and Tyco Sensormatic.

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