Northern region tags onto RFID

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Yorkshire and Humber looks set to become the centre of Europe’s electronic tagging industry by becoming the UK’s leading centre in the region. The development is part of a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) initiative to create a network of specialist Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology centres to be set up throughout the country.

The national co-ordinating centre will be created and sponsored by Yorkshire Forward, and the DTI has invited AIM UK, the independent industry association representing RFID, barcoding and other automatic identification technologies to lead the initiative, develop the overall strategic plan for the development of the centres and determine the centralised services and deliverables that will be provided by the lead centre.

This will initially be housed at the AIM headquarters in Halifax, West Yorkshire and will offer the region’s electronics companies early wins in a potentially huge global market. It will offer advice to companies on next-generation technology for real-time data tracking.

Plans are also progressing for the establishing a European Centre of Excellence for AIDC, which will also be sponsored by Yorkshire Forward and AIM and ultimately house the National RFID Centre.

RFID tagging is being introduced by retailers, healthcare authorities and logistics companies to keep track of products and movements and reduce costs.

Gunstones Bakeries, part of Hull-based Northern Foods, has saved £25M a year with a one minute processing saved on a single complete production line by using RFID and barcodes, and by introducing faster data capture, greater accuracy and introduction of more automation.

Main applications for RFID include supply chain logistics; track and traceability; security, ticketing and access control; lifetime item identification; transient carrier labeling; animal and specimen identification; airline baggage handling. It is part of the digital revolution providing a vital platform for identifying and managing items and capturing data.

The global annual market for RFID systems was approximately $1Bn in 2002 with Europe accounting for around 40% of the market and the UK 25% of the European figure. However plans by Wal-Mart, owner of Leeds-based Asda, Metro AG and Target along with the US Department of Defense are likely to drive the market growth to more than 30% annually.

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