Jan 05, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.
January 5, 2006—Texas Instruments yesterday announced that it has started using Gen2 tags on shipments of its calculators to Wal-Mart, marking the first production deployment of Gen2 tagged cases for the giant retailer's RFID initiative. RFID Update spoke about the announcement with Tony Sabetti, UHF/retail supply chain director for Texas Instruments RFID Systems, and Keith Hodnett, vice president and supply chain manager for the company's Educational & Productivity Solutions (E&PS) division. "This is the milestone proving that Gen2 technology is here and is working," said Sabetti. "And it's a significant milestone for TI because we're the first company to ship Gen2 tagged products to Wal-Mart."
The company is tagging the cases of all twelve of the graphing, scientific, and financial calculator products that it sells through Wal-Mart. "Our business drove a lot of the project, but with close collaboration from many of the other partners," said Hodnett. His E&PS division, which produces the company's market-leading calculators and is a Wal-Mart "next 200" supplier, worked closely with both Texas Instruments RFID Systems and Wal-Mart itself, with whom TI has a long-standing relationship. Simon Langford, RFID strategy manager at Wal-Mart, said in a statement, "TI is ahead of the curve with Gen2 adoption, and we commend them on being the first to begin Gen2 tagging of cases and pallets in support of Wal-Mart's RFID expansion plans in 2006." Transactions processing giant NCR and RFID printer manufacturer Zebra were also involved; NCR converted TI's Gen2 inlays into 4x6 labels, while Zebra provided the three printers purchased for the deployment.
When asked about the implementation's return on investment, Hodnett responded that while it's too early to say definitively, his group expects two to three years. The calculator market is hottest in August and September, during the back-to-school season, so it will be then that the company most reaps the implementation's projected benefits like improved product visibility and decreased out-of-stocks. Between now and then, TI will continue refining the system and learning to leverage the RFID data it receives back. "We fully expect to get more information back into our data warehouse to make sure that we are in stock at all times to meet the back-to-school season demands," Hodnett assured. "We believe we'll get even greater benefit when we're able to drive this down to the item level," he said.
With respect to the technology itself, Sabetti said, "The read rates we're getting are quite exceptional." They are reportedly verifying read rates north of 90%, a figure expected to get even better over time. The implementation is "proving Gen2's improvement over Gen1," according to Sabetti.
Read the press release