EU funds RFID development for industry

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Rfid, Rfid technology, Supply chain management, Epcglobal

The EU is providing €7.5m toward a three-year project to develop
and extend the use of radio frequency identification (RFID)
technology in a range of industries, including the food and drink
sector.

The Building Radio frequency IDentification solutions for the Global Environment (BRIDGE) project will develop research, training and demonstration models in the effective use of RFID based on EPCglobal standards.

RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain.

However high prices for tags and systems has held enthusiasm at bay. Privacy concerns have also limited its use at the consumer level. However mandates from such giant retailers as Wal-Mart and Metro are slowly forcing processors to make investments in the system.

Coordinated by global data standards body, GS1, the BRIDGE project brings together a consortium of 31 international organisations. Participants in the programme include universities in Europe and China, including three of the Auto-ID Labs, solutions providers, both large and small, together with large scale retailers and manufacturers.

"Since its inception, RFID has been hailed as the panacea for a more sophisticated and efficient global supply chain, but there are many questions to answer before this is realised,"​ stated Henri Barthel, technical director at EPCglobal and the BRIDGE project co-ordinator. "Cross-industry participation in such a large scale project is a key to its success. The BRIDGE project will transform RFID from being an identification technology into providing an EPCglobal based product information network."

The BRIDGE project will focus on business-based research, provision of information services and hardware and software development. The project will lead to pilots, deployment and comprehensive training materials in the use of RFID in a variety of business sectors, a press release stated.

In the area of anti-counterfeiting, the project plans to develop new services in the EPCglobal network to reduce the level of piracy of goods.

In food manufacturing processes, the project hopes to demonstrate how to reduce waste and stock holding. The project will improve the visibility and traceability of both products and equipment, thereby improving food safety, the press release stated.

"This is a great opportunity for Europe to build on a standardised RFID technology for use in global supply chains,"​ organisers stated. "The BRIDGE project will help make this happen by contributing to the development of new solutions for all businesses, from small to large. Improving skills and expertise on RFID technology and network information sharing will lead to enhanced competitiveness of European companies and to benefits to customer and citizen."

BRIDGE consortium members include five research laboratories, 12 RFID suppliers and seven businesses. They are Carrefour, Nestlé UK, Benedicta, Kaufhof, Sony, El Corte Inglés and Gardeur.

RFID uses a wireless system that helps enterprises track products, parts, expensive items and temperature-and time-sensitive goods. Transponders, or RFID tags, are attached to objects. The tag will identify itself when it detects a signal from a reader that emits a radio frequency transmission.

Each RFID tag carries information on it such as a serial number, model number, colour, place of assembly or other types of data. When these tags pass through a field generated by a compatible reader, they transmit this information back to the reader, thereby identifying the object.

RFID is being seen as a step up on bar codes by giving those in the supply chain the ability to track individual products and obtain more data.

EPCglobal is a fledgling standards setting agency developing RFID technology that will be compatible around the world.

The aim is to construct a global supply chain information network that combines RFID technology, existing communications network infrastructure and EPC, a number for uniquely identifying an item. Generation 2 refers to an updated version of the standard, which makes tracking and tracing systems compatible throughout the world.

The BRIDGE site is: www.bridge-project.eu.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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