It’s payback time: The next generation of RFID may hold real value

EPCglobal has ratified a new standard that promises to finally make RFID a tool for gaining complete supply chain visibility.


For all of its hype, RFID hasn’t had much of an impact on the logistics industry to date. Many enterprises have reported minimal return-on-investment, and multiple pilots have failed to yield full-scale RFID deployments.
Frankly, many believe RFID has taken up more room on the trade-show floors and magazines than it has in trucks and distribution centers.
If you’re a manufacturing professional, whatever you know about RFID, whatever opinions you have about the technology to date, be ready for a significant change, because the next wave isn’t just about little tags anymore.
In April, EPCglobal ratified a new standard called EPC Information Services (EPCIS).
You might recognize EPCglobal as the standards group that defined the Gen2 RFID Tag Air Protocol Standard currently specified for use by Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense. However, this latest standard from EPCglobal has nothing to do with how tags talk to readers.
EPCIS defines how companies communicate and share information about RFID-oriented observations throughout the supply chain. It provides both a standardized object model for the consistent description of supply chain events as well as a standardized structure for the exchange of that information within and between trading partners.
anufacturing through to the point of sale.
Cross-partner visibility didn’t easily arise from the first wave of passive RFID, as we lacked a standard for sharing RFID-oriented observations.
With EPCIS, we’ve solved that problem. Soon manufacturers and retailers will become acquainted with the ability to easily share this type of visibility information with one another. New communications applications will be developed as the granularity and timeliness of the standardized information increases.
Of course, with EPCIS—as with previous forms of standards and technology—companies will perceive potential benefits differently. Some will embrace this new approach to visibility and thrive. In fact, they will not only win new business by providing best-in-class event access, but also benefit from that visibility internally.
Others will hold back, hoping that change isn’t necessary and demand for visibility will go away.
Your choice of a path is nontrivial and the answer isn’t readily apparent. In a world of razor-thin margins, increased demand and competition, the overhead of adding new technology to the mix isn’t always the obvious choice.
Organizations that embrace the technology and standards and use them to their benefit will emerge as the leaders of the next generation. These companies will offer RFID-based value-added services—tagging, certified observations, total visibility, serialized ASNs, etc. These services will add to the bottom line. These companies also will learn from the technology, optimizing their own operations by leveraging these RFID observations to minimize exceptions, improve turnaround times, and reduce redundant labor.
Just imagine boosting internal operational efficiencies while increasing customer satisfaction and retention. This is what RFID was supposed to be all about from the beginning.
Bryan Tracey is cochair of the Software Action Group at EPCglobal, and VP of engineering at GlobeRanger , an RFID software vendor.

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me