Apr 20, 2009When I first began covering radio frequency identification technology eight years ago, the industry suffered from a lack of solutions. That is, there were companies that would sell you RFID tags and interrogators, but you had to figure out how to use them to solve your business problem—or you had to hire a systems integrator to do so (see RFID's Weak Link: Software Apps). Over the years, we've seen a number of middleware companies enter the market, as well as some firms offering applications that utilize RFID data. But in the past 18 months or so, we've seen more solutions reach the market.
By solutions, I mean products designed to solve specific business problems, or to improve a particular business process. They are usually either a combination of hardware and software, or software that is hardware-agnostic. Solutions lower the risk of deployment and make the investment decision easier for companies. Here's a small sampling, covering a range of applications and industries that will be on display at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009, being held in Orlando, Fla., on April 27-29:
• Checkpoint Systems' Merchandise Visibility Solution, designed to help apparel and other retailers track goods at the item-, case- and pallet-level across their entire supply chain (see RFID News Roundup: Checkpoint Systems Launches End-to-End Tracking Solution).
• GlobeRanger's Configurable Industry Applications, built for specific tasks, such as shipping and receiving, asset management and tracking work-in-process.
• Matrix Product Development's Wireless Cath Lab Asset Management system, which simplifies inventory management in a catheterization lab.
• RFID Global Solutions' Visi-Trac asset-management system, which provides visibility and traceability of assets.
• In Microsoft's booth, S3Edge will show off its visibility platform, designed to help manufacturers not only see the location of inventory, but also improve process flow.
• Xterprise's Clarity IT Asset Management for tracking data center assets.
In addition, two finalists for the Best in Show category at this year's RFID Journal Awards, to be presented at RFID Journal LIVE!, are focused on software. Intelligent InSites' Enterprise Visibility Platform is designed to be a single platform capable of locating individuals, equipment, inventoried supplies and more. And American RFID Solutions' iStar solution enables an iPhone user to locate a tagged object by serial number, by proximity, within a user-defined area or by some other meaningful filtering criteria.
I don't want to give short shrift to hardware guys, who create products that almost miraculously enable you to read data off of an object's tag, or systems integrators, who are crucial to putting together a system that delivers business value. I'm just shining a light on these software products because they represent a healthy sign that RFID is maturing. Companies don't want to purchase technology—they want to buy products that solve business problems, or that help them conduct business more efficiently and cost-effectively.
RFID is reaching the point at which you can obtain a solution that will deliver real business benefits, and have it up and running within weeks. I think end users attending RFID Journal LIVE! will be pleasantly surprised by the range and availability of RFID solutions they can employ to cut costs in the short term and become more efficient in the long term.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.