During the course of doing research for the January cover story on the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in the military, Material Handling Management interviewed Wal-Mart spokesperson Sarah Clark to learn how their RFID initiative compares to the DoD's. Here is the result of that Q/A.--Tom Andel, chief editor
MHM: Does Wal-Mart have plans to coordinate efforts with the DoD in implementing RFID with suppliers they have in common?
Clark: We share information and collaborate on various strategies and standards to reach common business objectives.
MHM: In what ways does the DoD's RFID initiative help Wal-Mart's initiative? Are there any drawbacks or concerns?
Clark: We welcomed the DOD's announcement, which along with other end users will help drive the industry forward, drive more volume of RFID technology, which will eventually drive costs down.
MHM:. What contingency plans does Wal-Mart have if the roll-out doesn't go as smoothly as anticipated--i.e., key partners unable to meet dates, smaller suppliers having trouble implementing technology, technology or software glitches?
Clark: This is a team effort between Wal-Mart and our suppliers. We feel our plans are sensible, realistic and achievable. We do not anticipate any major roadblocks or areas that we can't work through together. Wal-Mart has assigned a Wal-Mart executive sponsor and a Wal-Mart program sponsor to each of these initial suppliers to ensure that we are all working together in good faith to make this happen.
MHM: Is RFID standards development going as smoothly as you'd like?
Clark: Yes...it is on track with our expectations.
MHM: How do you anticipate material handling technology/practices will change throughout Wal-Mart's (and partners') supply chains as information technology improves and develops?
Clark: RFID will transform the way a product is handled throughout the supply chain. There will be many many applications where RFID can be incorporated into material handling practices and equipment.
For more information . . .
Material Handling Management magazine, in cooperation with Siemens Dematic and the Northeast Ohio WERCouncil, will sponsor a live panel discussion and webcast during NA 2004, the Material Handling Show and Forum, on the morning of March 31, 2004 at Cleveland's I-X Center. Presentations will answer your questions about:the state of standards, the latest technology developments, best practices and how you can quickly get into compliance shape
Our Panelsists include:
--Maurice Stewart, Deputy - DoD AIT Office, US Department of Defense
--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)
--Joe Dunlap, supply chain solutions specialist, Siemens Dematic MaterialHandling Automation
--Guillermo Gutierrez, manager of International Paper's Smart Packaging Group, and supplier to Wal-Mart
We'll compare and contrast the RFID approaches the Military and Wal-Mart are taking in implementing their supplier compliance mandates, but we'll devote a good chunk of time to answering your questions, so come prepared to participate!
To register for webinar participation, go to http://www.MHMonline.com/events/RFID
To register to attend the event while in Cleveland, contact Tom Andel, Material Handling Management magazine, 216-931-9346 or e-mail him at [email protected]