Introduction to RFID

RFID technology further automates the process of gathering mission-critical information in real time at the point of business activity. The promise of RFID technology for organizations that manage global supply chains is that the increase in efficiency, data integrity and inventory visibility will lower costs, and deliver goods faster and more accurately to the end user.

A typical RFID system uses RFID tags that store a unique serial number, which are attached to or embedded in designated objects such as retail items or containers. Fixed or handheld RFID readers transmit a UHF signal that supplies power to the RFID tags and communicates to them from a distance, even when the RFID tags are not visible. RFID readers capture the data on multiple RFID tags virtually simultaneously and pass the data to the management systems.

RFID technology is already in use in a wide variety of applications ranging from toll-road transponders, animal tracking and key immobilizer systems used in automobiles. The RFID technology was developed further, under the guidance of the MIT Auto ID center, for application in the supply chain. The electronic product code, or EPC, is the type of RFID technology endorsed by retailers such as Wal-Mart, as well as the United States Department of Defense (DoD). Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, required its top 100 suppliers to use EPC™ at the carton and pallet level by 2005. The U.S. DoD is following suit, demanding that all suppliers tag at the lowest possible level. The RFID market is predicted to reach more than $2.1 billion (USD) by the end of 2005 - much of it in retail, pharmaceuticals consumer packaged goods and the defense market.