RFID Software Opportunities
By Carly Bolach
RFID already is beginning to transform the retail supply chain through real-time product tracking and identification and elimination of human error. Although slow to the starting line at first, retailers beyond the initial early adopters are embracing RFID as a near-future possibility.
Industry research confirms retails commitment to the technology. Last years Retail Systems RFID study reported that 70 percent of unannounced retailers with $5 billion and above in revenue had begun to apply resources and planned to implement some form of RFID in the next 18 months. This study also showed that larger European firms are more likely to have a firm timeline in place for RFID implementations.
The results from this years survey, titled How Far, How Fast: The State of RFID, will be released during the Retail Systems 2006 Conference. The survey provides a snapshot of how retailers, distributors, CPG companies and apparel manufacturers view RFID adoption and innovation in the coming year and as far out as the next five years.
One of the industry leaders in RFID adoption is Kroger, the nations third-largest retailer. The grocery giant is piloting an RFID-based solution that is designed to track the location of case-ready meat products throughout its supply chain. Kroger selected OATSystems to provide middleware for the pilot, which combines temperature tracking, EPC data and RFID, enabling the grocer to improve both its cold chain and supply chain. The access to EPC data is expected to improve inventory quality and availability for the chains 2,500 stores.
Integrated Data and Devices
Sun Java System RFID Software is based on industry standards such as EPC, ISO, DoD, ALE, Java platform technology and XML. The software integrates with enterprise applications, including direct connectivity with SAP. Java System RFID Software supports RFID readers, appliances and other smart devices based on Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) and Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) technology. These devices process and filter RFID data directly. For example, applications such as warehouse management systems and supply chain management interact with business events, instead of processing raw data flows. The software also provides support for the EPCglobal Application Level Events (ALE) specifications.
Columbitech wireless VPN protects retailers from third-party access to their RFID data. The Wireless VPN provides flexibility by offering functionality such as filtering and management capabilities. Retailers can host an application to direct the flow of goods through a warehouse or securely adapt a custom application to report the status of automated components, such as conveyors, in a manufacturing environment. The VPN can be deployed to meet RFID reader challenges in different network environments it automatically reconnects any session and runs on a wide range of handheld devices.
OATSystems Foundation Suite integrates data from multiple facilities and across trading partners to provide a view of a businesss inventory and goods across the supply chain.
OAT Foundation Suite 4.5 s an integrated RFID data management platform that captures and filters raw RFID data. The OATaxiom data management system features built-in adapters that automate data imported from trading partners. The analytics platform provides real-time inventory status by product and location and trend analyses of product velocity or inventory changes by product, location or trading partner.
The OATxpress software platform captures, filters and manages RFID data within a single edge facility, such as a manufacturing plant, distribution center or retail store.
RedPrairie offers RFID Igniter and DLx Mobile Resource (MRM). The RFID Igniter middleware solution provides the ability to print, read and track RFID tag-embedded labels, as well as create and transmit required Advance Shipment Notices (ASNs) for pilot testing and EPC compliance shipping environments. The solution s visibility software to provide a top-down view of all products in testing or in the shipping process, and graphical performance measurement software to analyze results. The modules within RFID Igniter are EPC Compliance, EPC Data Exchange, EPC Process Management, and Automation Controls.
The MRM system employs the latest in RFID, GPS, cell and sensor technologies. Mobile assets have active RFID tags embedded or applied; and tampering and condition-monitoring sensors can be attached. The tags emit signals that can be read by handheld, mounted or portal readers. The data is sent via satellite, cell or Internet communication to the MRM system for centralized tracking, monitoring and analysis.
RFID in a Box
RFID in a Box contains a bundled package of RFID technology from Alien Technology and supply chain execution applications and professional services from Manhattan Associates. The package is designed to enable retailers to realize benefits such as real-time inventory control, accelerated ROI and increased operational efficiency, while enabling vendors to meet current and future RFID compliance requirements.
The system is integrated and EPC-compliant and s tags, readers, printers and Manhattan Associates implementation and training services. The Integration Manager platform provides connectivity with existing systems, and the EPC Manager component reads tagged items and shares the information for improved product tracking and traceability.