European Commission invests in RFID application research and development

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GS1 to coordinate three year global project

A three year initiative dedicated to research, development, training and demonstration in the effective use of RFID based on EPCglobal standards, launched in Brussels last week. The BRIDGE (Building RFID solutions for the Global Environment) project is being supported by the European Union's Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6) with 7.5 million funding.

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

"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," said Henri Barthel, technical director at EPCglobal and 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 (including sensors and tags) and software development. This will result in the development of comprehensive training materials in the use of RFID, increased pilots and deployment for a variety of business areas and sectors including:

  • Anti-counterfeiting. The development of new services in the EPCglobal network will reduce the level of piracy of goods, which is a serious problem in Europe.
  • Healthcare. Increasing patient safety by improving traceability, and certifying the pedigree of pharmaceutical products as they move from the manufacturer to the final user.
  • Textile industry. Better fulfilment of customers needs by increasing the flow and accuracy of information through a global supply chain.
  • Food manufacturing processes. Reducing waste and stock holding and improving visibility and traceability of both products and equipment, thereby improving food safety.
  • Re-useable assets. Improving information exchange and asset management between supply chain partners to reduce losses and costs of re-useable assets such as kegs, milk cages and trolleys.
  • Products in service. Developing systems and processes to increase the reliability of upgrades, repair and replacement processes throughout the life of many products.
  • Retail environment. Optimising processes in retail stores in order to increase service to the customer by using RFID on consumer sale units.

The BRIDGE project is an opportunity for Europe to build on a standardised RFID technology for use in global supply chains. It will contribute to the development of new solutions for businesses of all sizes and improve skills and expertise on RFID technology, which will help enhance the competitiveness of European companies, providing benefits to customers and citizens.

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