Wal-Mart: "RFID for All!"

Wal-Mart has raised the stakes in its RFID challenge by announcing that all suppliers will be expected to put RFID tags carrying Electronic Product Codes on pallets and cases by the end of 2006. As MHM reported recently, the retail giant initially announced that this mandate would apply only to its top 100 suppliers. However, this new announcement is sure to make even bigger waves.

Another industry trade publication, RFID Journal, surmises that this news might not cause the same tumult as the first announcement.

"That's because smaller suppliers may be able to move more quickly to tag their limited number of stock keeping units (SKU) than large suppliers, which may have hundreds of SKUs, each with different RF properties," the Journal reported. "And they have an extra year to learn how to deploy the technology for their own benefit."

Wal-Mart plans to hold a gathering for its suppliers in the fourth quarter to provide more details on how it expects them to tag pallets and cases. Some of the larger suppliers are concerned that the schedule doesn't leave them enough time to meet the January 2005 deadline.

To help its audience analyze the implications of this announcement, Material Handling Management and the Northeast Ohio WERCouncil will co-sponsor a panel discussion at Penton Media headquarters on October 16th. Sue Hutchinson, Product Manager, AutoID, Inc. U.S., the subsidiary of the Uniform Code Council working on the commercialization of the electronic product code (EPC), will be a featured speaker, along with representatives from Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and Pfizer Pharmaceutical. These suppliers will discuss the ramifications of this mandate on their supply chains and how managers can best prepare themselves.

MHM will have a full report on this forum in its December issue. For more information on the event, e-mail MHM's chief editor, Tom Andel, at [email protected]

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