Malcolm Wheatley, senior contributing editor, Zurich, Switzerland

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HMI, OI July 10, 2008

Backed by the majors: Gen 2 Standard “how-to” guide aims to ease RFID implementation fears

A question-and-answer (Q&A) EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID standard has been published by the European arm of GS1 , the global not-for-profit standards body. Backed by major European manufacturers and retailers—including Carrefour, Henkel, Kraft Foods, METRO Group, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble—the guide has one avowed intent, says Stephane Pique, GS1 Europe’s director of electronic product codes and RFID. “We’re trying to drive adoption,” he explains. “The idea is to create tools and documents that will get companies more confident about adopting and using RFID technology.” Although GS1 EPCglobal standards areusers.” Focused very much as a business-level publication—rather than a technical one—the guide addresses 21 common RFID-related concerns, namely: • What are the main benefits companies anticipate they will capture by using RFID; • What kind of information can be stored and exchanged; and • What are the radio-frequency usage rules in Europe. Interaction between bar-code-based product-coding identification rules and RFID also is addressed, as are issues as diverse as costs, tools for evaluating ROI, and data synchronization. Publication of the guide is an acknowledgement, it seems, that although what GS1 describes as "major use cases" are under way at a number of European manufacturers and retailers, many RFID implementations today are typically either in closed-loop systems such as returnable packaging, or are for purely internal use within companies. “There aren’t yet enough convincing RFID-based inter-organization based transactions,” concedes Pique. It’s hoped that GS1's related work in developing trading standards will unblock the logjam. “The Gen 2 RFID standard has been very successful, and two-thirds of the UHF-based systems on the market are based on it,” says Pique.

By Malcolm Wheatley, senior contributing editor, Zurich, Switzerland
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