The Business Case for Active RFID

With the ability to track, locate and sense, Active RFID is being rapidly adopted around the World, often creating new markets.

Many adopters have reported a rapid return on investment (ROI) of 12 to 18 months which is leading to active RFID being a $6.78 billion market in 2016. Here Dan Lawrence summarizes the topic for the forthcoming IDTechEx Active RFID Summit event 

The use of Active RFID is growing rapidly, providing the ability to track, locate and sense. The subject includes real time locating systems (RTLS) to track assets and people in real time; near field communication (NFC) enabling mobile phones to act as both tags and readers enabling new consumer services and propositions such as faster payments; and low cost wireless sensor labels monitoring the condition of products as well as tracking and tracing them.

Users of conventional active RFID systems typically report a return on investment period of 12 to 18 months despite the high tag cost - because since the tag is reused, often on high value assets, the cost per use can be very low. Active RFID has recently been moving to the forefront as open standards enable wide spread confidence to adopt the technology and as the technologies improve and reduce in cost.

IDTechEx research has determined that the sales of active systems including the tags will now grow very rapidly from $0.55 billion in 2006 to $6.78 billion 2016. Often this is done by replacing nothing new markets are created.

In an analysis of 75 Active RFID case studies from 18 countries by IDTechEx, the largest number of projects was in logistics which had around twice the number of each of the nearest contenders - air industry, automotive/transportation and healthcare. In the case studies, the main items that were tagged were containers, followed by vehicles, conveyances and people, and this probably reflects the market as a whole. Car remote locking devices are products in their own right of course and do not tag anything. Tagging people is a significant and growing sector.

Building on the success of last years event, the 2nd annual Active RFID Summit in Atlanta November 14th and 15th is bringing together both end users and technology providers to detail the progress of the technology in solving real world challenges.

For instance, delegates will be hearing from a joint project between industry heavyweights IBM and BP who have implemented a system to increase worker safety and plant efficiency.  Because of the large area covered by a typical BP facility, and the fact that personnel are often surrounded by flammable, dangerous materials, an Active RFID system developed by IBM has been implemented. Among the many benefits of this system one of the most important is personal safety. During emergency or safety drill situations, active tags and readers provide much more timely awareness of evacuation progress and helps emergency personnel coordinate resources more effectively.

Similarly, as a manufacturer of a diverse line of products we rely on everyday, GE has a lab dedicated to evaluating the various active technologies in use.  Delegates will hear from GE and how they are using Active technologies to track their assets and the methodology used to find the best fit for their products. There is a decent chance that the delegates will travel to Atlanta in one of Boeings products. Boeing is leveraging Active RFID to track some of the key components and systems in some of the most complex machines every designed. 

NYK Logistics Rick Crawford will be detailing how his company is assisting retail giant Target Corporation to reduce inventory costs, enhance customer service, and grow their business. In fact, he will teach delegates how they may be able to realize a 6-9 month return on investment by utilizing best practices. This payback will certainly appeal to CFOs and help justify many further implementations.

On the technology side, we will hear from leading technology developers.  One of which is Wavetrend, who is providing asset tracking solutions for many industries.  In addition to location, they are enabling active tags with sensors monitoring temperature or vibration and communicating this through a secure transmission protocol.  Using a technology known as ultrawideband (UWB) Ubisense is developing products that allow visibility of people and assets with resolutions of about 6 inches in real time.  This level of accuracy has many applications, particularly where assets are tightly packed and finding something quickly is of the essence.  Delegates will have an opportunity to learn from many more technology and solution providers related to this exciting branch of technology.

Delegates will also hear from the State of Georgia, who is utilizing Active RFID to enhance both security and efficiency at ports and terminals.  Their Maritime Logistics Innovation Center is leading the way to adopt technology that allows them to prioritize and track shipments in the international supply chain.  By adopting international standards, Georgias ports will be able to validate shipments from a growing number of ports throughout the world.

As space is limited, delegates are encouraged to register early for this one of a kind event.  Uniquely, conference delegates receive the $1800 IDTechEx research report Active RFID 2006-2016 for FREE. The complete conference agenda and supplemental meeting functions, such as the popular Masterclasses, are available at the conference website Any company that could benefit from asset tracking, improvement in efficiency, and achieve ongoing investment returns from attractive ROIs will definitely benefit from attending.

IDTechEx 2006/7 Dates:

Active RFID Summit USA, 14-15 November, Atlanta USA

Printed Electronics USA 2006, 6-9 December, Phoenix, USA

RFID Smart Labels USA 2007, 21-22 February, Boston, MA, USA

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