Not that long ago, there were predictions that RFID would revolutionise the supply chain sweeping away all that had gone before.
Why employ people to check stock when all you had to do was wave an RFID reader in the general direction of a warehouse to get an accurate list of everything inside.
Of course, that is a massive over-simplification and history shows that progress has been slower than predicted and it seems likely to take many years before RFID tags are cheap enough to replace barcodes for many applications.
However, a study just released by IDTechEx suggests that the technology is likely to get a new push – this time from China.
The report “RFID Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2011-2021”, says that at the moment some 43 per cent of RFID tags are sold and used in North America.
But while the US and Europe have seen a shakeout of RFID tag providers over the past year or so, China has been adding new RFID manufacturing capacity.
In addition, it says the Chinese government is a strong advocate for RFID, and has the power to mandate companies to use it.
“China has already executed the largest RFID order by value (over one billion national identification cards for adults – six billion dollars including systems) and has a policy of making its own requirements throughout the RFID value chain.”
And, of course, as China is now one of the world’s largest exporters, many products will be tagged at source there. Once the tags are on the goods, it is simply perverse not to make use of them.
You don’t have to look too hard for the next big push on RFID – it’s sailing to a port near you.