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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Second Wave RFID : Bigger & More Velocity

Like many other nascent technologies, RFID has improved with age, writes BWeek. Excerpts with edits & comments:
RFID has become more reliable and less costly. Boeing says its RFID system works 99.8% of the time, failing to read just 21 tags out of more than 18,000 in six months. That's negligible compared to the occurrence of human error when deliveries are entered manually. RFID system costs have come down, finally making the technology's return on investment attractive. While several years ago, the simplest RFID tags cost $1 to $5, they now sell for 25 cents to 50 cents. And tag prices are still dropping - expected to reach 20 cents this fall as suppliers deploy new, materials-saving manufacturing processes. Now manufacturers are starting to incorporate RFID on their own accord, to better manage their inventory and to track work in progress, storage containers, and tools. Indeed, RFID adoption among manufacturers is about to go into high gear. As many as 40% of all U.S. manufacturers - in industries as diverse as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, automotive, and mining - will deploy RFID by 2010, up from under 10% today, estimates Kara Romanow, an analyst with AMR Research. That's a tremendous jump, considering that most companies using RFID today are running only limited trials.

RFID suppliers should see a sharp escalation in demand in mid-2006. That's when manufacturers are expected to first start moving from pilot tests to large-scale RFID deployments as new, industry-standard RFID technology comes to market. Called Gen 2 RFID, these new readers and tags will be cheaper, a lot more accurate, and work at distances up to 30% longer than their predecessors. With Gen 2, it would be far more easy to implement RFID. RFID no longer requires a mountain of special add-ons to corporate networks. Manufacturers that have installed Wi-Fi, a wireless broadband access technology, on their factory floors can use these networks to capture information from RFID tags without the help of RFID readers. Major customization and tweaking of corporate software systems have become unnecessary, too. RFID feeds, for example, will be a standard part of Microsoft' enterprise-resource-management software, used to track products through the manufacturing process and due for release in the first half of 2006. Tools and equipment vendors are starting to make RFID a standard part of their wares used by manufacturers to improve asset management. Business-intelligence software helps managers analyze daily trends in inventory buildup. In the future, RFID's importance for making business decisions will grow, as the tags start incorporating more memory as well as a slew of sensors, recording things like temperature and noise levels

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