Auto Service World
News   August 5, 2004   by Auto Service World

Radio Frequency Identification Explained in Industry Paper


MEMA’s Information Services Council (MIS Council) has written and published a white paper on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in response to the growing demand for a better understanding of the technology within the automotive industry. <br>
RFID offers a lot of promise for improved supply chain efficiencies, but the aftermarket has struggled with its implementation, business case for justification and short-term use. Significant contributions to the paper’s content were made by EPCglobal Inc.<br>
RFID uses small tags with computer chips to communicate information about an item, a container or a pallet to the EPCglobal Network, which is accessible by other companies in the supply chain. The technology promises to provide substantially greater data visibility, which would provide improved inventory management, reduced labor costs and more accurate item-tracking capabilities. Other applications/benefits include tracking of re-usable assets, i.e. tools, containers and equipment, which would reduce loss due to theft; monitoring of the performance of items in use, i.e. air pressure of tires; recall management where specific part locations can be quickly identified to shorten the recall process; and product authentication, which potentially could help reduce the amount of counterfeit parts in the supply chain.<br>
The MIS Council addresses e-commerce and information technology issues facing manufacturers and the entire aftermarket supply chain. It developed the white paper to educate its members and their trading partners to the promised benefits of RFID and ways to approach and evaluate a new RFID program.<br>
“RFID’s reputation in the aftermarket is a technology that will be of great value sometime in the future,” said Chris Gardner, director of the MIS Council and the paper’s author. “While this is true, a common mistake being made throughout our industry is the decision to monitor other industries and just wait. I sense that the aftermarket needs a greater understanding of the technology and its benefits.”<br>
The white paper suggests that companies begin exploratory projects and pilot programs to expedite the learning curve rather than waiting for retailer mandates before launching a new program. Topics covered in the paper include:<br>
–RFID’s definition and how it works<br>
–Potential benefits<br>
–EPCglobal Standards<br>
–Applications for its use<br>
–How to get started<br>
–Activity in the aftermarket<br>
–Challenges<br>
–RFID and bar codes<br.
–Resources for additional information<br>
MEMA has established a working relationship with EPCglobal Inc, which will support the aftermarket’s efforts to establish global standards by providing access to the standards development process, education and implementation resources.<br>
Industry-wide implementation is expected to take several years due to the costs associated with replacing existing investments like bar coding infrastructure. Technologies that enable the concurrent scanning of bar code labels and RFID tags exist but are very new and have not been proven. Other obstacles will help curtail the growth of the technology in the aftermarket.<br>
The white paper can be downloaded from the following Web sites:<br>
MEMA Information Services Council, www.miscouncil.org<br>
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, www.mema.org<br>
EPCglobal Inc, www.EPCglobalinc.org<br>
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