Wake up or lose business, warns standards authority

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New research carried out by e.centre, the supply chain efficiency association, shows that despite the hype, 85% of UK companies have no plans to introduce radio frequency identification (RFID) technology within their organisations. The survey, which spanned all industry sectors, quizzed supply chain managers from medium to large enterprises and despite 88% of those questioned agreeing that RFID was a beneficial technology, only 8% are using or piloting RFID in their organisations.

Steve Coussins, e.centre’s chief executive, says: “The results of this survey show an alarming, widespread indifference to a technology that will bring significant benefits to business supply chains. RFID is here to stay. It will enable all trading partners in a supply chain, in any industry sector to track and trace products in real-time and manage stock more efficiently.”

The study provides further evidence that retailers are driving forward the adoption of RFID technology, with other industries failing to grasp major opportunities for supply chain efficiency. Currently big name stores, such as Tesco, are conducting important trials, but the potential for other industries, such as healthcare, is vast.

“As with the uptake of barcoding 25 years ago, the retail sector is leading the way with implementing RFID technology,” comments Martin Swerdlow, chief executive at Integrated Product Intelligence (IPI). “A growing number of major retailers have announced plans to begin implementing RFID solutions in ‘end-to-end’ supply chains. Manufacturers and trading partners need to get active, so that RFID is a benefit to them too, not just an imposition.”

e.centre is paving the way for successful RFID adoption in the supply chain with the launch of a single, global, open standard for the technology. EPCglobal goes live this Spring, removing the final stumbling block to the technology’s integration with barcoding and other business-to-business communications.

Almost two thirds of survey respondents agreed that such a standard would greatly encourage the uptake of RFID.

“The UK has been at the fore of RFID testing and development and yet the poll suggests that we are losing momentum,” continues Coussins, “we must not lose out when it comes to the final stage of implementation. It is of vital importance that UK companies begin to devise strategies for piloting and implementing the technology in line with the EPCglobal Network standard. To this end, e.centre will continue working with Industry to provide support and education and co-ordinate trials in this field. This will demonstrate that the EPCglobal Network is a cross-sector standard, which will potentially deliver benefits that exceed existing technologies.

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