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Exploring the Potential Benefits of RFID: A literature-Based ...

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Exploring the Potential Benefits of RFID: A literature-Based ...

  1. 1. Exploring the Potential Benefits of RFID: A Literature- Based Study Ali Khan and Sherah Kurnia Department of Information Systems The University of Melbourne 111 Barry St, Carlton, VIC 3010, Australia Emails: kha@unimelb.edu.au; sherahk@unimelb.edu.au ABSTRACT RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) has been touted as a major breakthrough in the supply chain operations. At this stage, there are still a limited number of academic studies assessing the potential of RFID for organizations. Based on a literature analysis, this paper summarizes the business drivers which are triggering the RFID adoption. Although, RFID has many benefits in the shape of reduced labor costs, improved inventory management, and more supply chain visibility, yet, at the same time, RFID presents itself as a costly successor to bar codes. The paper concludes that how companies respond over the next two to three years will determine eventual success or failure of RFID. Keywords RFID, RFID Network, EPC, EPCIS, RFID Benefits INTRODUCTION Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a set of approaches to efficiently integrate suppliers, manufactures, warehouses, and stores, so that merchandise is produced and distributed at the right quantities, to the right locations, and at the right time, in order to minimize system wide costs while satisfying service level requirements [1]. Many companies are becoming aware of the importance of SCM for their company’s future success and survival [2]. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has opened the door to a new era in SCM. RFID is a data collection technology that allows remote interrogation of objects using radio waves to read data contained in RFID tags which are at some distance from an RFID reader [3]. RFID is hailed as the next generation of Auto-ID as it surpasses bar code technology. With RFID, tagged items could be simultaneously identified in an automated manner very quickly and without the need for line-of-sight. This technological breakthrough paves way for improved inventory management, reduced labor costs and more supply chain visibility. Based on the potential of RFID, major retailers like Wal-Mart, Tesco and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have quickly mandated their trading partners to use RFID to track assets, products, and materials. Over the last couple of years, there has been an increasing interest in RFID technology as many companies have jumped on to the bandwagon and are exploring the possible benefits of deploying this cutting edge technology in their supply chain by running pilot tests. In spite of all that frenzy, there is a lot of skepticism playing in the minds of business community as to how the future of RFID will unfold. There is reluctance to invest large amounts of capital in a new technology that has yet to prove itself. Compounding this reluctance is the fact that many businesses have heavily invested in barcode technology. Since there is limited knowledge about the future potential of RFID in supply chain management, particularly within the academic literature, the paper aims to critically examine the business drivers propelling RFID adoption and the long-term benefits promised with implementation of the technology. For the purpose of this study, various literature was reviewed and analyzed. Given that RFID is an emerging technology, reliance on literature was mainly based on a wide range of online industry sources, such as RFID vendor web sites, standard organizations, and press releases. The online sources were complemented by white papers from Auto-ID Center, the pioneer of RFID technology. Based on the analysis of the existing literature, a detailed description of what RFID technology entails and a number of potential benefits of RFID
  2. 2. which drive organizations to adopt are identified and discussed systematically. These potential benefits result in significant cost savings and increased revenue for organizations, which will positively affect the profitability in a long run. Such understanding is valuable for both academic and practitioners who are involved and have interest in the adoption and use of RFID technology. In the next section, an overview of existing RFID applications is presented, followed by a description of the RFID network. Then various benefits of the RFID technology, which are supported by some real cases whenever available from the literature, are discussed. Finally, conclusions are drawn and some future studies are outlined. OVERVIEW OF RFID APPLICATIONS RFID is a mature technology and has been around for quite some time. The earliest use of RFID technology dates back to World War II for identifying friend or foe onboard military aircrafts [4]. Over the years, there have been many notable applications of the RFID technology. For example highway authorities in many metropolitan areas let travelers pay tolls using RFID tags linked to debit accounts. In addition, RFID tags are also being used as credit-card-like payment tokens. A reader sends the serial number, associated with a tag, over a network and a remote computer debits value from the consumer’s account. Moreover, RFID technology is also being used as a means for remote keyless entry for automobiles. In these systems, the car key incorporates an RFID tag that the steering column authenticates, thereby enabling vehicle operation. Another noticeable example of RFID usage is animal tracking. Organizations and individuals are now equipping pets, livestock, and endangered species with RFID tags to enable tracking, recovery and management [4]. The RFID technology has also been embraced by the business community to improve operational efficiency and inventory management [3]. TrenStar tags beer kegs, as they move through the supply chain, to identify black market sales and eliminate misdirected shipments. Likewise, Harley Davidson tags bins, carrying parts of custom motorcycles, during assembly, to automatically display manufacturing instructions for employees at each stage of the assembly process. Furthermore, Las Vegas airport uses RFID technology in automatically rerouting baggage to ensure that each piece of luggage is sent back to the right airline. International Paper tags rolls of large paper to reduce lost and misdirected rolls. This ability of RFID to track and trace goods has provided the impetus for it to be extended in the supply chain management across different trading partners. Many retailers have started implementing RFID within their supply chain. Wal-Mart, for example, announced in 2003 that its top 100 suppliers must put RFID tags carrying EPC on pallets by January 2005. All Wal-Mart suppliers would fall under this directive by the end of 2006 [5]. Reinforcing this supply chain revolution were other major retailers including Target, Albertsons, Best Buy and Home Dept of the U.S.; Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Woolworths of the U.K; the Metro Group of Germany; and Carrefour of France. In addition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pushing the pharmaceutical industry to tag medicines by 2007 [6]. RFID should not be viewed as a replacement to bar code or as a data collection method, but more as an enabler to automation. The driving force behind this change is the patronage of strong industry leaders (Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, and Department of Defense), major technology partners and vendors, and a business-led industry standard structure, EPCglobal. This alliance has really spurred the momentum of RFID uptake. The manifestation can be seen in recent AMR Research survey, which revealed that 69% of respondents surveyed are planning to evaluate, pilot, or implement RFID in 2005 with average budget more than $548K and increasing to $771K by 2007 [20]. The survey results are summarized in Figure 1.
  3. 3. Figure 1 - AMR RFID Adoption Survey Results However, at the stage, it is still challenging for the RFID technology to be implemented beyond company’s boundary due to the non-existence of widely adopted data standard, to track and trace products as they pass between partners in the supply chain. As a result, RFID technology was confined within company’s boundaries and not widely used across trading partners. To exacerbate the situation further, RFID solutions at different companies were mutually incompatible operating at different frequencies and using different protocols, which acted as a stumbling block towards widespread RFID deployment [4]. As a remedy to this situation, the Electronic Product Code (EPC) network has been established. THE ELECTRONIC PRODUCT CODE (EPC) NETWORK To allow the RFID technology to be used more widely within supply chains, a single comprehensive standard, which tracks and traces products as they pass between partners in the supply chain was required. This was accomplished with the creation the EPC network to connect a product tagged with RFID to a network. The EPC network consists of six fundamental technology components, which are described below. Electronic Product Code (EPC) The aim of EPC is to provide a unique identifier for each object. It permits mass serialization as unique serial numbers can be assigned to identify discrete manufactured objects and object aggregates. An example of the structure of 96-bit EPC is shown in Fig 2. It also serves as a lookup key in databases to access information about the tagged object. EPCglobal – a subsidiary of the Uniform Code Council and EAN international – is responsible for the size and content of EPC tags, which typically use a 96-bit numbering scheme to identify objects. Figure 2 - Sample 96-Bit EPC Tags and Readers RFID tags come in two types – Active and Passive. Active tags contain their own battery and are always on. On the other hand, Passive tags derive energy from the radio frequencies transmitted by readers. They cost less compared to active tags because they do not require batteries. The reader emits radio waves of a particular frequency. When passive tags enter the range of a reader, their antennas absorb energy from the radio field, powering the microchip which stores the unique EPC identity code, and returning this information back to the reader via a
  4. 4. modulation of the radio waves. Figure 3 depicts the different parts of RFID tag which include a chip, an antenna, and a packaging. Figure 3 - Structure of RFID tag One of the primary advantages of RFID is that it does not require a direct line of sight between the reader and the tag. This is in contrast to barcodes that require unobstructed alignment with the reader. Tagged items can also be read simultaneously. Moreover, RFID tags offer the benefit of programmability as RFID tags are read/write capable, rather than read only. This means that information can be written to the tag, perhaps to show that the item being tagged has gone through a particular process, or that its condition has changed somehow [7]. Furthermore, RFID tags are not only virtually impossible to copy, making them suitable for security applications, but also are extremely durable in harsh conditions. Since RFID tags do not need to be visible, they can be encased within rugged materials such as harsh fluids and chemicals [8]. Filtering, Collection and Reporting (‘Savant’) A wide-scale deployment of RFID tags and readers would result in massive raw data and could potentially lead to overloading of bandwidth and database storage capacity. The role of filtering, collection and reporting software applications, which is commonly known as “savant”, is to isolate the physical reader infrastructure from the higher-level applications and information systems so that only significant ‘events’ and summary data packets are propagated upstream, rather than every individual tag read. Savants use a distributed architecture, meaning the software runs on different computers distributed through an organization, rather than from one central computer. Savants are organized in a hierarchy and act as the nervous system of the new EPC network, managing the flow of information. At the edge of the network, Savants gather data from readers. They pass on only relevant information to existing business applications, such as which products are about to expire. A Savant running at a distribution center might determine when product needs to be reordered from manufacturers, and so on. EPCglobal is phasing out the name "Savants" and introducing the name Application Level Events (ALE) as the new name for this filtering middleware. Some of the tasks handled by this filtering layer are listed below [9]: Data smoothing: Software at the edge of the network will smooth data. Not every tag is read every time, and sometimes a tag is read incorrectly. By using algorithms, middleware is able to correct these errors. Reader coordination: If the signals from two readers overlap, they may read the same tag, producing duplicate EPCs. Software must be used to analyze reads and delete duplicate codes. Data forwarding: At each level, middleware has to be set up to filter information and pass on only necessary information to an enterprise application. For instance, middleware in a cold
  5. 5. storage facility might forward only changes in the temperature of stored items that exceed certain thresholds. Data storage: Existing databases can not handle more than a few hundred transactions a second, so another job of the middleware is to maintain a real-time in-memory event database (RIED). In essence, the system will take the EPC data that is generated in real time and store it intelligently, so that other enterprise applications have access to the information, but databases are not overloaded. Task management: Essentially, middleware is customized to manage data and execute commands. For instance, middleware running in a warehouse might be programmed to alert the manager when the number of pallets of a particular product drops below a certain level. The Object Name Service (ONS) The Object Name Service (ONS) is used to convert an EPC into a number of internet addresses where further information about a given object may be found. Every company, which uses RFID Network, will run an ONS Server hosting the details of its products. The root ONS directory will be hosted by VeriSign. ONS helps in finding the server on which information about a particular product resides. ONS specification is based on the Domain Name System (DNS) which provides IP address lookup for the internet. When an interrogator reads an RFID tag, the EPC is passed to savant, which, in turn, goes to an ONS on a local network or the Internet to find where information on the product is stored. ONS points the savant to a server where a file about that product is stored. The savant retrieves the file (after proper authentication), and the information about the product in the file can be forwarded to a company's inventory or supply chain applications [9]. Physical Markup Language (PML) The Electronic Product Code identifies individual products, but all the useful information about the product would be written in a new, standard computer language called the Physical Markup Language (PML). PML is based on the widely accepted eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Because it is meant to be a universal standard for describing all physical objects, processes and environments, PML will be broad and will cover all industries. It will provide a common method for describing physical objects and will be broadly hierarchical. For instance, a can of Coke might be described as a carbonated beverage, which would fall under the subcategory soft drink, which would fall under the broader category food [9]. All of the data regarding the product composition such as size, shape, quantity, category, expiry date, manufacture date, etc. will be all reside in a PML file along with dynamic data and temporal data. Dynamic data in a PML file might include the temperature of a shipment of fruit. Temporal data changes discretely and intermittently throughout an object's life such as object's location. The EPC Information Service (EPCIS) PML files will be stored in online databases that will be part of Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS). Build around Web Services model with emphasis on direct programmatic access to the precise item of data of interest, EPCIS is a set of software standards that will allow companies to more easily exchange, find and record EPC data as it moves through the supply chain. Since, an Electronic Product Code (EPC) gives each object a unique serial number, each individual object can be tracked independently and fine-grained real-time information about each individual object can be collected, stored and acted upon. EPC Information Services are a way for supply chain partners to share and exchange information efficiently, because a standard interface allows trading partners to use the same functions or methods for querying data across the supply chain. EPCIS allows trading partners to access and exchange live-real time data with full web service security access controls and authentication, while interfacing the back-end to diverse databases and information systems from
  6. 6. multiple vendors, without their partner needing to know the details or have direct access to underlying systems [10]. Furthermore, EPCIS is the first layer where business logic can be mixed with read ‘events’ coming from RFID readers. All the layers underneath EPCIS (e.g. Filtering & Collection [ALE], Reader Protocol etc.) are primarily concerned with simple triples of data (Reader, Tag EPC, timestamp). EPCIS allows for higher-level meanings to be stored or accessed, involving business processes and business transactions i.e. Shipment #XXX corresponding to P.O. # YYY arrived at time #ZZZ rather than just (EPCs 123, 456, 789 seen at Reader 842 at time #ZZZ) [11]. In terms of implementing an EPCIS, a company can choose to either host its own EPCIS interface coupled to its existing databases or subscribe to a technology solution provider hosting a managed EPCIS service. Supply chain partners can then query the EPCIS repository using EPCIS query interface to look up for information regarding a particular EPC. Similarly, supply chain partners can insert data into EPCIS repository through EPCIS capture interface. ONS guides supply chain partners in finding EPCIS of another trading partner. All the six aforementioned elements together form the core infrastructure of the EPC Network and provide the potential for automatic and unique identification of any tagged product (See Figure 4). Local ONS ONS Interface EPCIS EPCIS Repository Query Interface Partner EPCIS Application (PML Files written in PML Language) EPCIS Capture Interface ALE Filtering/Collection RFID Middleware Enterprise Reader Databases RFID Tags RFID Network showing the different components and how each component interacts with the other as well as how supply chain partners query and insert EPC related data from/to the EPCIS repository. Note: Conceptual Diagram, not authoritative as EPCGlobal is going to launch its RFID Network specification in later part of 2006. Figure 4 – RFID Network All of the elements are required to work collaboratively to push towards ubiquitous RFID. To illustrate, how this works suppose there is manufacturer called ABC, which produces soft drinks. Every bottle produced by the manufacture will have a PML file, which will be stored in the EPCIS repository. A PML file will contain the product composition such as size, shape, quantity, category, expiry date, manufacture date, etc. All of these product descriptors will be pulled from enterprise databases, which are connected to the EPCIS repository. In addition, each bottle will
  7. 7. have a unique EPC number. If XYZ, a trading partner of ABC (retailer), wants to look up for product description of any bottle, the retailer will enter the unique EPC number of the bottle through an ONS interface and, in return, be provided with the URL address of the online database or the EPCIS repository of the ABC manufacturer. ONS Server will facilitate this transaction as for each EPC, there will exist a unique URL address. Once provided with the URL address of the EPCIS repository of ABC manufacturer, XYZ can easily query the status of any soft drink bottle via EPCIS query interface. Moreover, when the soft drink bottles are shipped from the manufacturer to the retailer, the retailer can also send up-to-date information to the manufacturer via EPCIS capture interface, which will be inserted and updated in the respective PML files of the each product item. For each read to happen, RFID readers will emit electromagnetic waves of particular frequency, powering the RFID tag, when RFID tags enter the range of the reader. Once in the range, tags will then send EPC identity code back to the reader via a modulation waves. This information is then filtered by Savants or the ALE layer before being sent to the EPCIS repository. Business Drivers for RFID adoption Despite the emerging nature of the EPC network, many organizations have been actively adopting the RFID technology because there are many potential benefits that can be gained. These benefits can be categorized into three major classes: operation cost reduction, working capital reduction and sales volume increase, as summarized in Figure 5. They will lead to increased cost savings or increase revenue, which in turn, lead to increased profit and shareholder value. Each benefit is discussed below. Business Drivers for RFID Adoption Reduce Operating Costs •Reduced Labor Costs •Improved Warehouse Management Increase Cost •Improved Inventory Management Savings •Efficient Product Recalls Increased Profit Reduce & Shareholder Working Capital •Reduced Inventory Value •Reduced UnSaleables Increase Revenue Increase Sales •Reduced Out of Stocks Volume •Reduced Counterfeit Products •Reduced Product Shrinkage •Quality Control & Product Differentiation •Improved Promotional Planning Figure 5 – Business Drivers for RFID Adoption
  8. 8. Reduced Labor Costs Labor costs are involved in gathering data using bar code because someone has to physically touch and scan each product. RFID technology automates data capture, leading to further labor reduction. The major cost component for typical distribution centers is labor, accounting for around 50-80% of their total distribution costs. Keith et al. (2002), predict that receiving check-in time could be reduced by 60-93% with RFID technology [12]. It is also predicted that RFID could yield labor savings of up to 36% in order picking and a 90% reduction in the verification costs for shipping process. Improved Warehouse and Yard Management Applying an RFID tag to trailer will yield improvements in yard and dock activities as the manager can know the contents of that trailer as soon as it enters the yard. If the contents are important, the trailer can be unloaded right away. On the outbound side, RFID can provide proofs of delivery when good are received, allowing shippers to close out transactions more quickly and accelerate the cash-to-cash cycle [13]. RFID can also reduce invoice reductions and charge- backs from some retailers who claim that product did not get shipped when it may have been actually just lost in the warehouse. Furthermore, RFID promises less need for all parties in the supply chain to (re)check, (re)audit, and (re)verify their order accuracy. Improved Inventory Management With improved information accuracy and real-time visibility through RFID deployment, companies can effectively deal with commonly experienced “bullwhip effect” [14]. Bullwhip effect refers to an increase in order variability within the supply chain due to a lack of information visibility across the chain. This results in high inventory levels and poor customer service levels within the supply chain [1]. Information sharing across the supply chain is a proven strategy to combat the bullwhip effect. The real-time information sharing made possible by the RFID technology across the supply chain will provide unprecedented visibility into unanticipated customer demand variability. It is estimated that improved inventory tracking with RFID will lower out-of-stock shelf fulfillment and facilitate in improved promotional planning, which translates into potential 7% boost in sales [15]. Gap employed the RFID technology to reduce obsolete inventory while enabling staff to locate specific articles. The result was an almost 100% on shelf availability of the RFID tagged merchandise and 12% increase in store sales compared to stores that were not using RFID system. Efficient Product Recalls Product recalls can be attributed as a costly source of loss in the supply chain. This is due to the fact that in the absence of a unique product identifier, organizations find it difficult to exactly pinpoint the faulty products. This risk can be effectively mitigated with the EPC as it uniquely identifies each product produced, thus allowing manufactures to issue targeted recalls of only affected products. Reduced Inventory Gillette has ventured into testing Smart shelf, where an RFID reader is incorporated into the shelf and stocked with tagged product. The Smart Shelf monitors its rate of depletion, provides an alert when stock runs low and automates reordering to minimize out of stocks [16]. The example illustrates that through effective and novel use of RFID not only inventory levels can be reduced but also out-of-stock situation can be eliminated. Reduced Unsaleables Since RFID tags can store manufacture and expiry dates, goods with close expiration dates can be better managed, reducing the need to write-offs due to spoilage. This is particularly important to perishable goods and date-specific goods. Gap employed RFID technology to reduce obsolete inventory while enabling staff to locate specific articles. The result was an almost 100% on shelf availability of the RFID tagged merchandise and 12% increase in store sales compared to stores that were not using RFID system.
  9. 9. Reduced out-of-stocks Tagging pallets and cases will allow for better tracking of goods within stores, thus reducing out of stock situations. With better inventory tracking, inventory level can be potentially reduced by eliminating erroneous replenishment orders for products that are available but cannot be found. U.S. retail industry is losing about $70 billion annually due to its inefficient supply chain practices and about 42% of this comes from product unavailable on the retail shelf for consumer [17]. With RFID technology, Wal-Mart now can know what is in the back room and what is on the retail shelf. During the busiest shopping times, Wal-Mart employees at times can only fill one out of every twelve out-of-stock situations on the store floor [16]. By harnessing the power of RFID, Wal-Mart can locate merchandise in the back room quickly and prioritize the replenishment process according to the highest-priority merchandise. Reduced Counterfeit Products World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between five and eight percent of the worldwide trade in pharmaceuticals is counterfeit [18]. RFID offers the capabilities of track and trace, where product is assigned a unique identifier and its movement is constantly monitored from the time it was created till the time it was consumed. Such rich information can act as deterrent to counterfeit and illegal products. For example, when goods arrive in a particular country for sale, they can be easily checked without having to remove the packaging, and then sample audits can take place at retail points to check that genuine drugs are being sold, and also the route taken to reach the shop. Sample store checks can also be used to make sure country specific pricing is employed, and that retailers do not buy drugs cheaply in another country and sell in a country where they are not supposed to. Reduced Product Shrinkage Theft or also known as product shrinkage is a serious problem for retailers and manufactures. In US, 77% of the total shrinkage cost is due to theft, while in Europe, it is 61% (Figure 6) [19]. RFID Network allows products to be tracked and traced with total real-time visibility. This feature can alert SCM systems with specific details when products are missing, allowing the organizations to take anti-theft measures. Figure 6 – Theft Losses Quality Control and Product Differentiation RFID empowers organizations to monitor the quality of products as they move along the supply chain. Tags can monitor things like temperatures, bacteria levels and provide tamper evidence, regardless of the product position in the supply chain. This information is highly valuable in the food safety area due to concerns like mad cow disease and bird flu. If tainted material is found in the food value chain, all companies can accurately and quickly locate, quarantine, recall and destroy all affected materials. Improved promotional planning Gillette is using RFID to improve its inventory tracking so that during promotional campaigns, there is a minimal chance of running out-of-stock. With RFID readers, Gillette can track when products arrive at the retail store and when they are moved from retail store’s back room to the retail shelf [16]. Equipped with this information, Gillette ran promotional advertisements for M3Power razor and then measured the preparedness of retail stores in regard to the promotion. All the retail stores received the product before the promotion ran. However, average dollars per
  10. 10. point of sale was 48% higher for those stores that moved the products from the back room to the store shelf before the promotion start date compared to those stores who moved the products after the promotion start date. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS For companies to reap the many benefits of RFID, companies have to revamp their business processes to take advantage of the process automation capabilities it offers. This means source tagging, which involves placing the tags on finished goods at plant rather than “slip and ship” approach - manually printing and applying - should be adopted; additional business intelligence software should be leveraged; Warehouse Management Systems should be integrated across the whole supply chain; more RFID readers should be planted in the supply chain network, and tighter integration should be forced on to supply chain partners. Figure 7 shows RFID Requirements/Benefits curve. As the RFID infrastructure requirements gets bigger and bigger so does the benefits. Most companies are still in Phase 1, with limited participants and standalone capability. This is partly due to current immature technology stalling the progress, but in the long run, to reach the vision of total supply chain visibility, companies have to get more mature and sophisticated in terms of collaboration and system integration. Once the technology matures, the whole burden of RFID success hinges on how supply chain partners implement and use the technology. Future benefits of RFID envisioned as error-free inventory counts, cashier-less checkouts, instant container inspection, and production orders based on real-time consumer usage are promising only when entities in the supply chain work in unison. Segregated implementation of RFID with operations running at arm’s length will surely jeopardize the future of RFID. Long-Term Benefits • Production Orders on RFID Requirements/Benefits Curve Real-time Consumer Usage • Error-Free Inventory N Counts • Cashier-less Total Supply Checkouts Chain • Instant Container Visibility Inspection Mid-Term Benefits • Production/Distribution 4 BENEFITS Planning Productivity & Returns Plus – More • Product Availability/ participants/products, Scale Volume, intra-facility Shelf Stock Monitoring read points, More collaboration among partners, • Warranties Complete System Integration • Returns/Reverse Supply Chain Tracking 3 Productivity & Returns – Source Tagging, More System Integration, More in/out read points Short Term Benefits Track & Trace Plus – More Participants/products, • Pallet & Fleet 2 Systems Integration, Additional Business Intelligence, Location/Tracking Analysis on historical Information • Store Theft Prevention Track & Trace – Limited Participants, 1 Standalone Capability REQUIREMENTS Figure 7 – RFID Requirements/Benefits Curve Despite the many potential benefits of RFID, however, RFID infrastructure is ill-equipped. At the moment, technology prices act as the greatest inhibitor for large scale deployment coupled with premature technology standards. Another obstacle standing in the way of RFID progress is the back-end software infrastructure and systems integration, which is required to crunch RFID
  11. 11. data across different supply chain partners to produce supply chain visibility. There have also been some issues regarding privacy concerns around the deployment of RFID. Apart from overcoming some challenges in RFID adoption, all benefits of RFID can only be realized with greater collaboration between all concerned partners. Successful RFID implementation demands more synergism across the board. RFID has the potential in improving manufacturing and retail business processes, yet at the same time supply chain partners run the risk of sinking it under their own weight by not cooperating. How the companies respond over the next two to three years will determine eventual success or failure of RFID. This study has provided a better understanding of what organizations can expect from the RFID technology. The findings of the study, however, have many limitations because they are only based on secondary data. A further study to investigate the actual impact of RFID implementation on a specific organization as well as challenges faced during the implementation will therefore complement the findings of this study. REFERENCES 1. D. Simchi-Levi, P. Kaminsky and E. Simchi-Levi, Designing and Managing The Supply Chain, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, 2003. 2. Softchain, Improving Extended Supply Chain Performance Through Better Control, [Online] URL:http://www.manufacturing.net/scm/contents/pdf/softchain_wp.pdf Last Accessed, 20/9/2005. 3. Forrester, What You Need to Know About RFID in 2004, [Online], URL:http://www.forrester.com/Research/PDF/0,5110,33298,00.pdf Last Accessed, 20/9/2005. 4. S. Garfinkel, A. Juels, R. Pappu, RFID Privacy: An Overview of Problems and Proposed Solutions, Security & Privacy Magazine, IEEE, May-June 2005 Vol: 3, Iss: 3 page(s): 34 – 43. 5. J. McClenahen, Wal-Mart’s Big Gamble, Industry Week, [Online], Available ProQuest, Document Id: 814310721, Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 6. C. Bolan, Is RFID’s tag too Pricey? Global Cosmetic Industry, [Online], Available ProQuest, Document Id: 780420661, Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 7. N. Raza, V. Bradshaw, M. Hague, Applications of RFID technology, RFID Technology (Ref. No. 1999/123), IEE Colloquium on 25 Oct. 1999 pp 1-5. 8. S. D’Hont, The Cutting Edge of RFID Technology and Applications for Manufacturing and Distribution, Texas Instrument, [Online], URL:http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/manuals/whtPapers/manuf_dist.pdf Last Accessed 10/10/2005. 9. RFID Journal, Q&A Section about RFID Uses and RFID Technology, [Online], http://www.rfidjournal.com/faq Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 10. M. Harrison, D. McFarlane, A. Parlikad, C. Wong, Information management in the product lifecycle – The Role of networked RFID, Industrial Informatics, 2004. INDIN '04. 2004 2nd IEEE International Conference on 24-26 June 2004, pp 507 – 512 11. M. Harrison, EPC Information Service (EPCIS), [Online] http://www.m-lab.ch/auto-id/SwissReWorkshop/papers/EPCinformationService.pdf Last Accessed, 20/9/2005. 12. A. Keith et. al., Focus on the Supply Chain: Applying Auto-ID within Distribution Center, IBM Consulting Services, Auto-ID Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002. 13. Anonymous, RFID Powering The Supply Chain, [Online], Available ProQuest, Document Id: 682615561, Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 14. R. Veeramani, The Key to Finding RFID’s ROI, RFID Journal, [Online], URL:http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleprint/1635/-1/82/ Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 15. C. Bolan, Is RFID’s tag too Pricey? Global Cosmetic Industry, [Online], Available ProQuest, Document Id: 780420661, Last Accessed 4/10/2005. 16. C. Murphy, Real-World RFID: Wal-Mart, Gillette, And Others Share What They’re Learning, InternetWeek, [Online], URL:http://www.internetweek.com/163701127 Last Accessed 4/10/2005.
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