Omron invests $20 million in RFID growth

By Control Engineering Staff December 13, 2005

Tokyo, Japan —Japanese automation manufacturer Omron Corp . plans to invest $20 million worldwide in the next year in a first step toward seizing a larger share of the U.S. and global radio-frequency-identification (RFID) market. The aggressive action will focus on the company’s RFID label-inlay and reader products.

The investment aims to take advantage of Wal-Mart’s RFID shipping-tag mandate to its top 100 suppliers and leverage Omron’s 20 years of global RFID product development and application experience. Wal-Mart requires major suppliers to put RFID tags on shipping crates and pallets. In 2006, that requirement will extend to Wal-Mart’s next largest 200 suppliers.

Other U.S. RFID sales-initiatives by Omron include mass retailers, such as Best Buy and Target stores; electronics, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods companies; and the U.S. Department of Defense—which has also established RFID mandates for suppliers.

Omron will open a testing center in St. Charles, IL, near its Schaumburg, IL headquarters, to help customers and systems integrators validate applications. Following the U.S. initiative, the company will expand, creating similar operations in Europe and China.

RFID tags act as portable databases that allow information to be accessed and modified through reader/writers at any point on the supply chain. They provide a non-contact, non-line-of-sight method of automatically gathering, inspecting and distributing detailed information. Ruggedized tags can be read in harsh, damp, or dusty environments or after being subjected to bending, twisting, or misalignment.

—Control Engineering Daily News DeskJeanine Katzel, senior editor,