RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) Information Services Council (MIS Council) has written and published a white paper on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
A growing new technology that is showing promise for a variety of uses in the aftermarket, 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.
MISG has published the white paper in response to the growing interest and need for better understanding of the technology. Significant contributions to the paper’s content were made by EPCglobal Inc, a joint venture of EAN (European Article Number) International and the Uniform Code Council (UCC), which develops standards regarding the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and promotes adoption and implementation of the EPCglobal Network.
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.
“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.”
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:
RFID’s definition and how it works
Applications for its use
How to get started
Activity in the aftermarket
RFID and bar codes
Resources for additional information
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.
”Significant, foundational changes within industries require leadership,” said John Seaner, senior director, Industry Development for EPCglobal US. “Current mandates for the use of EPC and RFID within other industries show long-term commitment by global leaders. Automotive industry priorities and needs must be addressed in order to meet timelines and avoid excessive costs. The successful path forward is a global approach, and that is what EPCglobal Inc provides through our open, global standards development process and support for those adopting and implementing the technology.”
“The aftermarket should embrace the opportunity to identify best practices and develop industry-specific standards,” said Gardner. “This can be done now even if our market segment doesn’t adopt wide-spread use of RFID for some time.”
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.
“Initial pilot programs among aftermarket manufacturers have revealed some challenges with RFID,” said Gardner. “Heavy or dense metal parts, thick liquids and nearby wireless applications have caused problems in the transmission of tag information.”
The white paper can be downloaded from the following Web sites:
MEMA Information Services Council, www.miscouncil.org
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, www.mema.org
Click here to view the rest of today’s headlines.