The Wal-Mart application, which may very well be the largest commercial deployment of RFID tagging to date, is still its initial planning stages -- although the company has staged a few tests with IBM Global Services. In November, the company staged a formal 'coming out party' for its proposed specifications -- which includes a very large storage area on each RFID tag.
Basically, Wal-Mart plans to use the standardized Electronic Product Code (EPC) to track pallets and cases. RFID vendors have been informed of the company's plans and goals, including plans to use tags that operate in the UHF spectrum (868 MHz to 956 MHz). Wal-Mart is already using a limited trial version of its RFID system to track pallets and cases from two suppliers coming into one of its distribution centers. Plans are to quickly expand this trial to 12 supplies, and then roll RFID out across the U.S. by year-end 2005.
At the moment, Wal-Mart is reviewing proposals from a variety of RFID vendors worldwide -- although the smart money is betting on U.S. firms winning the business.
Zebra Technologies International, LLC
333 Corporate Woods Parkway
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061.3109 USA
2858 De La Cruz Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
501 N. 34th Street, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98103
125 Walnut St, Floor 2
Watertown MA 02472
18220 Butterfield Blvd.
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Intermec Corporate Headquarters
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Telephone: (425) 348-2600
Fax: (425) 355-9551
This was first published in December 2003