Wal-Mart takes the lead in driving RFID through the supply chain

Speaking at Retail Systems 2003 in Chicago, Wal-Mart's senior vice president/CIO of the Information Systems Division, Linda Dillman, outlined steps towards wider deployment of RFID technology throughout its global supply chain.

It will start with its top 100 suppliers, who will be expected to start deploying radio frequency identification technology at the pallet level in January 2005. Over the next five years there will be a phased roll-out, from pallets to cases to items. Before that, there will be several briefings with suppliers as well as implementation trials. Dillman also challenged RFID tag suppliers to bring the cost of their products down: five cents or less for item-level applications and 25 cents or less at the case/pallet level.

This long-awaited announcement is viewed as powerful validation of RFID technology, and a crucial jumpstart for the industry. It is expected to increase RFID volumes, reduce costs, and accelerate adoption. The first demo of the ElectricProduct Code (EPC) network will be this September15-17 at the Auto-ID Center's EPC Symposium at Chicago's McCormick Place. The symposium will make the case for adoption, discuss implementation and outline the EPC technical architecture. Call 800-669-1668 or go to www.epcsymposium.com/register.

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