RFID Orders Surge

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—IDTechEx has reported a surge in orders of radio frequency identification technology products in 2009.

Despite the world’s largest RFID project being completed, the global RFID market is rising 5% this year to $5.56 billion, says IDTechEx. Though the $6 billion China National ID card scheme was completed a year ago, RFID orders are up 10%.

Most of the action has been in the U.S., says Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx. The largest orders continue to be placed in the U.S., in the U.K., China and Japan. Das offers the fact CSC and IBM landed an order for $570 million to upgrade the U.K. e-passport applications and enrollment system as an example.

In the U.S., Unisys was one of four companies selected by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems for a contract for the RFID III program. This contract has a total ceiling value of $428 million. Currently, RFID tags are attached to approximately 125,000 shipments of military supplies each week. Transcore landed $63 million for RFID-based non-stop tolling in Florida, continued Das. In addition, the U.S. has seen many multimillion dollar RFID orders placed recently, one example being a $2 million order on Awarepoint to provide a Real Time Locating System (RTLS) for Jackson Health System, which will continuously track 12,000 assets. For most of these suppliers, the new orders are their largest orders ever.

The story in Japan and China is very different. This year, the Chinese are putting RFID where it is not encountered in the West, such as on fast fishing boats to prevent collisions. However, China is also making the world’s largest investment in installing RFID throughout its factories and supply chain in order to underpin the nation’s pre-eminence in manufacturing.

An order for $8 million of RFID-enabled casino chips has been placed by establishments in Macao and the Philippines. Hong Kong is particularly active in RFID, reports IDTechEx. Japan continues to buy more than 90% of the world’s RFID-enabled mobile phones. They can be used to buy access to public transport as well as goods in many retail shops.

There is increased activity elsewhere, as well, continues the IDTechEx executive, including Gemalto servicing an order for 900,000 RFID National ID cards for Lithuania, probably valued at more than $6 million. Infineon received a $24 million order for passport RFID chips in India, and Axcess clocked $3.5 million for a port security infrastructure RFID system in Trinidad. Moscow Metro has ordered about $10 million of RFID tickets.

IDTechEx is tracking what are now 3,800 projects in 110 countries. In China, the number of RFID projects tracked has more than doubled to 281 in only two years.

In addition, wireless sensor networks (WSN)—also called third-generation active RFID—are being offered by a large number of companies. IDTechEx says WSNs may overtake the market for RTLS—second-generation RFID—although the two technologies do not yet compete with each other.

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