Numbers: Active RFID growth; industry benchmarks


Industrial applications will be among those using active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, contributing to a 12-fold growth by 2016, while in separate news, industry control, automation, and instrumentation firms again shared numbers with the Measurement, Control & Automation Association (MCAA) for benchmarking their performances.

Value of sales of active RFID systems will grow very rapidly from $0.55 billion in 2006 to $6.78 billion 2016, according to a report from analysts IDTechEx , “Active RFID 2006-2016.” Primary factors creating this growth will be real time locating systems (RTLS) and disposable RFID sensor systems, including ones in the form of Smart Active Labels (SALs). IDTechEx based its forecast on four major factors. First is the much stronger market demand for tracking, locating, and monitoring people and things. This is driven by security, safety, cost and customer satisfaction, including increased competition in consumer goods, terrorism, threatened epidemics of disease, increasing numbers of elderly persons, and consumers demanding better service and more information. Second is reduction in cost and size of tags and systems. With lower power circuits, button batteries are now adequate for most applications and even printed batteries are gaining a place. In future, miniature fuel cells, printed photovoltaics (including new power storage photocapacitors), and other power sources will have a place. This will help to overcome constraints of lifetime, cost and size. Third, open standards are now becoming available: ISO 18000 EPC Types 3 and 4 and IEEE 802.15.4. Fourth, companies are leveraging short-range wireless communication, particularly WiFi and ZigBee.

Click here to learn more about a related meeting, Active RFID Europe, in London, Sept. 19-20.

Click here to learn more about Active RFID Summit USA, Nov. 14-15 in Atlanta, GA.


Curry & Hurd research for MCCA shows a wide distribution of performances for companies represented in its study.

In other news, MCAA reports that 2005 “was a good year for everyone,” after collecting information on the operating performance of its member companies—North American manufacturers and distributors of instrumentation, systems and software used in industrial process control and factory automation. Companies contribute financial statement information (protected by confidentiality guidelines) and the Association aggregates the information into a report. Data is arrayed in groups by sales volume size to make comparative analysis more focused. As reported to the MCAA membership in May by Edward J. Curry, partner in the consulting firm of Curry & Hurd, the association continues to see large companies perform differently than smaller ones. The 2006 Operating Benchmark Report covers years 2001-2005 for companies in the measurement control and automation industry. Thirty-six member companies, including ten public companies provided data for the report. In addition, the report includes a section on 15 industry companies from publicly available data.

Among report highlights, MCAA reported the best one-year growth in its records: “In reviewing the performance of public companies from publicly available data, the report showed ’05 revenues increased 11.7% over ’04 revenues. 2005 operating income increased 20.3% over ’04 operating income. And ’05 operating income as a percent of revenues increased to 11.6% from 10.7% in ’04. There were a number of industry participants with revenue growth in the mid teens and higher. There were also a number of industry leaders with operating income as a percent of revenue in the mid teens and higher. This was the best year-over-year performance that MCAA has seen.” MCAA says, compared with 2001, 2005 gross profit increased by 4.9 percentage points, expenses decreased 1.2 points and operating income increased 6.1 points. In dollars, operating income increased by 89.4% over the five-year period.”

However, R&D expense decreased by 1.8 points over the five years, MCAA noted. While the larger public companies were reducing R&D over the five year period, two of the three smaller groups increased R&D almost every year and, in 2005, by 10-15%.

The 2007 survey will be sent in January and publication is anticipated in March 2007. For more information, contact MCAA.

—Edited by Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief

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