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  Welcome Speech

RFID Innovations 2001
London, June 2001

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What is RFID
RFID Facts
How does RFID work
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RFID or bar code
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RFID Innovations speech
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Welcome to the RFID Innovations Conference. I am Steve Halliday, VP of Technology for AIM, Inc. based in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Some of you will know that I am the convener of the ISO group responsible for creating Air Interface standards for Item Management (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31/WG 4/SG 3), others may know that I publish a newsletter every month called RFID News and you can sign up for this free newsletter on the AIM RFID web site (www.rfid.org).

I have been involved in the AIDC industry for more than 20 years, and heavily involved in RFID for the last 5 years. Those of you who have heard me before, know that I normally talk about RFID from the technical or standards viewpoint. Today, my job is to help you understand that RFID is a technology that is available today, and to help you see reality through the hype that has spread.

It is important to understand that today’s RFID is NOT an identification method for every item in the world. This is a solution that has been talked about in recent months, but we are not able to provide a system to meet this requirement today. Maybe this will occur in 2, 5 or 10 years, we will have to wait and see.

High Tech Aid offers Expertise in AIDC technologies such as RFID and barcode as well as NFC and Internet of ThingsWhat RFID IS, is the ability to get more information in an easy to use manner. It doesn’t matter what we are talking about, identification of people, or things, tracking of objects, or some other aspect that requires the easy availability of data. The advantages of non-line-of-sight, multiple reads, and read/write are immediately apparent in most systems.

For a long time now, we have been using bar codes to help collect data to help track our use of items. The EAN.UCC system has been around now for 25 plus years, and we have all become very familiar with the bar code on everything we buy at the supermarket.

RFID is NOT a replacement for bar code. Today, a bar code printed on a packet of cornflakes is basically free. The extra ink to print the bar code symbology itself is almost nothing. The cost of a tag is not free. A bar code does a great job for identifying an item. The item identification is a license plate type application, and it does not change from one packet of cornflakes to the next.

If you consider an RFID tag, you will see the great flexibility that TAG offers, and the added value that you can realize by using this in conjunction with your bar code system.

RFID IS a major adjunct to the bar code system. Think about the value of a tag on a container, pallet or case were the cost of the tag is not significant to the value of the goods, and the ability to reuse the tag reduces the overall cost impact of adding RFID to a system.

High Tech Aid offers Resources in AIDC technologies such as RFID and barcode as well as NFC and Internet of ThingsSo what do you use RFID for? What is the problem that we are trying to solve? Identification, tracking and tracing of goods and people is the definition which I believe best explains what we are trying to achieve.

This is an area that all of the AIDC technologies provide tools for, to increase efficiency and accuracy in the quest for better data. RFID provides an extra level of information in some cases and so it is the key in our quest to get "better data". The ability to read multiple items simultaneously, to read and write information, and to not need to see the tag physically, add a whole new layer to our AIDC arsenal. RFID provides all these benefits.

Some years ago, I embarked on an exercise to identify the applications that are suited to RFID. We were able to list over 50 at that time and I am sure that we did not cover everything. Since that time, the list has grown. The potential for RFID is enormous. There are so many applications that will benefit from this technology, that I can’t even grasp them all at this time.

As you are aware, and will learn further from the sessions that will follow these opening remarks, there is a lot of work being done in the world of standards. We have work on air interface standards, on data syntax, unique ID, and application profiles, as well as standards for animal ID, gas cylinders, and contactless smart cards.

So should you, as a user of RFID technology, wait for these standards to be in place? The answer is NO, shouted from the highest building, with the loudest voice.

Most of the major manufacturers who supply RFID equipment are involved in the standardization process. They are aware of the progress in the creation of the various standards, and will be able to keep you aware of what is going on. As a user of the technology, if you are interested in an open systems application, you should be able to get an update plan from your vendor to migrate to the standardized system when it is published.

BUT, the key here is that you do not have to wait for the standards to be published. Some of the standards are still some time before publication, and there is no reason to wait, especially if your system is a closed system.

High Tech Aid offers Knowledge about AIDC technologies such as RFID and barcode as well as NFC and Internet of ThingsAs I talk to companies that are implementing RFID now, I find that the Return On Investment (ROI) for some companies has been extremely short. One company quotes an ROI of 7 months for a reasonably large system. With typical ROI’s for projects like this in the 12 –1 8 month range, you can easily be seeing immediate savings that will pay for the RFID project before the standards are published in some cases.

Every week I get several questions about the cost of a tag and when will we be able to have a one cent tag. This is the wrong question. Tags are not free and we know that the cost of a tag will come down with time as the production process gets more efficient and the volumes increase. However, the cost of the individual tag is the wrong focus for a project. The focus for a project like this must be the Return on Investment.

I have already said we found more than 50 applications, but the big question is which is the key application, the so called "killer app". I think without any doubt logistics in the supply chain is the major candidate for this award. As time moves on, this is where the large volumes are going to come from, and this is where some organizations are concentrating their efforts.

There are already some major applications that are using RFID. Animal Identification has been available for some time now, and whether you are talking about monitoring the feed needs of a herd of cows, or the ability to trace the owner of a dog when it strays away from home, you can see the benefits.

A large user of RFID is the vehicle immobilizer systems that require a key with the correct RFID tag before the Engine Management Unit receives the instruction to start the car.

Here at the conference, you have two and a half days of presentations which will lead you to a better understanding of the technology. You will hear from people about the various options for RFID and even more, you will hear from people who have implemented RFID and the benefits they are receiving.

Hopefully you will be able to sort out the hype that you have heard and understand the realities of today. You will see that RFID is available now, today and that you can experience some significant cost savings by implementing it immediately.

The final key item is to get educated. RFID is not a simple subject. Conferences like this are ideal to help you get some grounding and to meet and greet the people who are providing the solutions. But what do you do for the rest of the year? Two suggestions to help you keep up on the events in RFID, - subscribe to RF Innovations, the sponsor of this conference, and visit the AIM RFID web site at www.rfid.org where we have placed many resources for you to use, including a subscription form to the RFID News, a free monthly email newsletter.

As I finish this introduction, I want to leave you with three thoughts.

  1. get educated, the key to a successful implementation is the amount of knowledge you have.

  2. don’t wait. Do it NOW. You can make those savings immediately, while the industry finds its standards, you can be making the savings that are available

  3. find yourself a good partner who has experience in RFID and is able to offer you the right solution.

Steve Halliday
President, High Tech Aid

http://www.hightechaid.com

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