Rapid adoption of RFID in manufacturing and logistics sectors

RFID is mainly a card business today and more is spent on RFID in China than in any other country.

However, that hides the fact that the Manufacturing and Logistics sectors are rapidly adopting RFID for security, safety, efficiency and other reasons. The IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase of 2959 RFID projects in 98 countries reveals that Manufacturing and Logistics have risen to become 17.2% of all projects, as shown below. Indeed in China it is already 26.3% of all projects as befits China's dominance of manufacturing for the world.

Source: Simplified figures from IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase

The adoption of RFID in the Manufacturing and Logistics sector is taking many new forms as it becomes used for everything from theft and counterfeit prevention to increasing sales by reducing stockouts and managing standing assets more efficiently and controlling access to secure areas. For example, Ubiquitous Sensor Networks with fault tolerant ZigBee networking are being trialled for asset management. Dr Chang-Hun Lee of the National Information Society Agency, Korea says, "Ubiquitous Sensor Networks will be a huge RFID market in a few years." Then there is the form of active RFID known as Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS.)

Suppliers of RFID to the Manufacturing and Logistics sectors are prospering. For example, Belgravium in the UK, offering RFID for management of standing assets and supply chains, in partnership with Ubisense and Sirit, grew sales 101% last year and achieved profits up 88% at $1.844 million, an impressive 16.9% of sales. In Lockheed Martin in the USA, we estimate that Savi Technology continues to make satisfactory profits as it passes $200 million in gross sales value, up about threefold in three years. Savi uses RFID to manage standing assets and supply chains for military forces in the main and its joint venture with Hutchison Whampoa called Savi Networks is busy applying active RFID to intermodal containers to alert to tampering in real time and provide supply chain visibility.

Assa Abloy has just made its thirteenth acquisition of an RFID company and Syscan International has bought three RFID companies this year. In its RFID divisions, Assa Abloy concentrates on access control and personal identification in the main. These applications are common to most RFID sectors. Syscan is involved in logistics RFID including condition monitoring.

Recently, Alien Technology, a leader in passive tag systems for retail supply chains, raised $35 million, AeroScout, in active RFID Real Time Locating Systems RTLS raised $21 million and Impinj, in passive RFID chips mainly for supply chains, $19 million. Then there is Cambrios Technologies, in laminar batteries for active RFID. It has just raised $12 million.

The IDTechEx RFID Europe conference, in Cambridge UK 18-19 September, will reflect all these exciting developments.

TNT of the Netherlands, International Post Corporation of Belgium, City Link and Delivery Management of the UK, Toppan Printing Japan, Savi Technology USA and Ahold of the Netherlands are among those making new announcements about RFID in logistics and postal applications. Tube Lines of the UK, Sony of the Netherlands and BP USA are among those addressing manufacturing applications and Intel, Impinj, Omni ID, Tagsys and Cambridge Resonant Technologies will be among those that show how the technology is racing forward. Chipsensors Ireland will announce a new RFID sensor chip and Montalbano Technology of Italy will reveal condition monitoring RFID in this truly international conference.

Getting rid of the silicon chip to get the price down is covered by Inksure of the USA and IDTechEx so the largest supply chain and postal applications become feasible such as replacing trillions of barcodes and tracking one billion postal items yearly with something less hit and miss than barcodes and phosphor dots. IDTechEx believes that RFID tags containing a silicon chip will never be sold at above the 100 billion a year level because they will never drop below a few cents in price.

The optional Investment Forum at the conference will be addressed by no fewer than 15 CEOs and by others in companies seeking growth funds, many of them in the Manufacturing and Logistics sectors. For example, several are involved in RTLS "the next big thing" of RFID where over 100 hospitals have installed this for assets and staff in the last year and other sectors are getting the message, the largest logistics application for this new technology being by presenters LinkSure. Those attending the optional masterclasses will visit local company Ubisense which has the most accurate RTLS and is growing particularly rapidly.

IDTechEx Conference Dates:

Printed Electronics Asia 10-11 September, Tokyo, Japan, www.IDTechEx.com/peAsia
RFID Europe 18-19 September, Cambridge, UK, www.IDTechEx.com/RFIDeurope
Printed Electronics USA 12-15 November, San Francisco, USA, www.IDTechEx.com/peUSA
Active RFID & RTLS 5-6 December, Dallas, USA, www.IDTechEx.com/active
RFID Smart Labels USA 2008 20-21 February, Boston, USA, www.idtechex.com/rfidUSA
Printed Electronics Europe 2008 April, Dresden, Germany, www.idtechex.com/peEUROPE

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