Halifax is set for international recognition later this year when it becomes home to a European Centre for Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technologies, which will revolutionise supply chain management in the same way that bar-coding revolutionised retailing. 

Yorkshire Forward is investing more than 5 million in the centre, with additional funding from the Department of Trade and Industry, the European Regional Development fund and AIM UK.

A Centre for Smartmedia and e-inclusion will also open in Sheffield, taking advantage of the expertise in smart technology pioneered by Sheffield City Council, who are European leaders in this field. The Sheffield centre will allow the industry to test its products for usability with the public, ensuring that emerging technologies are as inclusive as possible. This office will also service the AIDC needs of businesses in South Yorkshire.

AIDC technologies cover a range of products, including bar codes, biometrics, magnetic strips, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and smart cards.

RFID is set to revolutionise not only business, but many aspects of our lives. It is already being used for traceability purposes within a range of industries, including transport, logistics and coastal fishing. Other successful applications have been made in security and access control, animal identification, libraries, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. The market for RFID systems and services worldwide is growing at a staggering 30 per cent a year, and is expected to reach almost $12 billion by 2008.

The new European centre for AIDC will be housed in the former Elsie Whiteley Mill, it will not only play a world role in promoting the development and uptake of all automatic identification technologies, but will also contribute to the setting of globally accepted standards for their application. 

Managed by AIDC UK, the centre will have a multi-purpose theatre with accommodation for 70 delegates, plus a state-of-the-art technology demonstration area capable of showing practical uses of the technology.  This area will be themed to show possible applications within a range of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, food safety, logistics and the public sector.

An on-site laboratory will provide testing and research services for application research and student training.

Jim Farmery, Head of Innovation for Yorkshire Forward said:

 AIDC is good news for everyone. These identification technologies have the potential to reduce costs and impact all areas across a business. It will also generate efficiencies between suppliers. In addition it means a better deal for customers with lower prices and a much better service. AIDC will open up new ways for businesses to supply and satisfy their customer base and transform their product offer. Companies in the region need to be fully aware of the opportunities and challenges that these technologies bring in order to be competitive in the global economy.

Yorkshire Forward is absolutely committed to leading the way in the future of AIDC.

Ian Smith, chief executive of Aim UK said:

The possibilities for AIDC technologies are innumerable, providing businesses in the region with an opportunity to become leaders and to improve their efficiency, productivity and profitability.

Ken Bellamy, head of e-government and ICT for Sheffield said:

Joining with other AIDC technologies such as RFID will allow us to bring our European experience of this technology to bear for the Yorkshire market.

The centre is expected to become operational later this year, and is due for completion in Spring 2007.

For further information on this European Centre of Excellence for Automatic Identification and Data Capture, please contact Samia Robbins on tel. 0113 39 49615

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