Companies worldwide are still hungry for information about radio frequency identification (RFID), concerned about its costs, and anxious about meeting the necessary mandate requirements and deadlines, according to a global Webcast featuring representatives from more than 300 companies and 45 countries.
The Webcast, organized by Zebra Technologies Corp., the RFID solution provider, revealed some of the top concerns, challenges, and questions that companies say they are facing when it comes to RFID and Electronic Product Code (EPC) compatibility.
Nine key issues were highlighted in the Webcast:
-- Cost -- Realizing cost benefits and understanding the value proposition of RFID is key. There is a lack of clear information available on the costs associated with implementation, RFID tags, and upgrading the technology as it advances.
-- Tag quality -- Tag strength, readability, resilience, data capacity, size, type, and failure rate, are all areas of concern that companies say they wish to learn more about.
-- Data management -- Companies indicate that they are still confused about the need to manage large amounts of data that may be generated from an RFID implementation, and how such data will affect their current systems.
-- Implementation -- Top challenges for companies remain selecting RFID system components and understanding how they integrate with existing information systems, as well as best practice for selecting partners for pilot testing.
-- Barcode versus RFID -- Companies say that they need more information on where and when to use RFID in the supply chain in place of barcoding.
-- Standards -- There is a concerning lack of definition on EPC standards and how they will evolve globally.
-- Meeting customer requirements -- As the EPC compliance date draws closer, companies are questioning if they can meet the mandated deadlines of their customers.
-- Overcoming obsolescence -- Companies are unsure whether the technology they put into place today will serve them down the road, as EPC and ISO standards for RFID evolve and new products are introduced.
-- Global roll-out -- Global businesses reveal that they are unclear whether, or when, they can implement an EPC labelling system globally, and what impact it will have.
Rod Rodericks, MD of Zebra UK, says: "From the questions and comments we received, it is evident that companies involved in pilot programs that support the Wal-Mart (Stores Inc.) and Target (Corp.) initiatives for the most part understand the technology and what they must do to comply. It is the many hundreds of companies that will soon follow suit that are looking for answers, and struggling to understand the value of RFID.
"Interestingly, representatives from many of the top pharmaceutical companies attended the Webcast, suggesting that the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries may be gearing up for a major shift to RFID as well. This follows the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement governing the use of barcodes in the U.S. to ensure patient safety. We predict that some companies may leap-frog the new rule, and select RFID to realize significant cost reductions in their supply chains."