Print 39 comment(s) - last by HighWing.. on Jan 22 at 2:31 PM

An example of an EPC RFID tag in use at Wal-Mart  (Source: Wal-Mart)
Wal-Mart plans to strong-arm suppliers into using its RFID tagging system

RFID already has a bad rap largely due to the unsavory prospects of human implantation, possibly by employer coercion.  There is a significant public wariness to the technology, which largely stems from these issues, which unfortunately causes people to often overlook its practical business uses.

By using RFID tags during shipping, pallets of goods can easily be located, identified and tracked as they move across the country.  This can lead to great cost savings while enhancing the supply chain.  Such devices operate in either the 433 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency, and thus pose no more electromagnetic radiation concern to users than the myriad of other wireless signals that surround us in our daily lives.

Wal-Mart adopted RFID early and has since pushed its suppliers to adopt the system, which it feels is revolutionizing its shipping processes.  For three years now the company insisted its suppliers RFID tag shipping pallets for its Wal-Mart retail and Sam's Club warehouse stores.

Now Wal-Mart is using Sam's Club as a proving ground for the new technology, by economically forcing its suppliers to adopt the system.  The new, more forceful, push will begin with Walmart's DeSoto, Texas distribution center that distributes pallets to Sam's Club stores across the southwest.  Starting January 30, all pallets entering the center must be RFID tagged or suppliers will face fines of $2 per untagged pallet.

An RFID tag costs about 20 cents to manufacturer.  Wal-Mart explains that the significantly larger fee is not designed to be punitive, but covers the costs of labor for Wal-Mart having to reprocess and tag the pallets themselves.  The fee allows companies without existing RFID infrastructure to temporarily pay Wal-Mart to deal with this issue, giving the supplier time to adopt RFID logistics.

Sam's Clubs 700-stores accounted for $41.5 billion of Wal-Mart's $344.9 billion in revenues in 2007.  The stores use fewer suppliers than the Wal-Mart retail chain, so the company sees them as an ideal proving ground for the technology.

The system and accompanying fines for non-comformers will be phased in at all 22 Wal-Mart distribution centers over the next three years.

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Heck Yes
By Master Kenobi on 1/18/2008 3:14:44 PM , Rating: 3
About time someone pushed for this sort of thing. Gone will be the days of scanning each individual barcode on pallets. Simply tag it and run it through the scanner. Wanna find out where in the warehouse that pallet is? Check the computer.

RE: Heck Yes
By Souka on 1/18/2008 3:18:18 PM , Rating: 3
at a cost of $.20 each...even if it drops to $.10 each, I could see recycling drops appearing around stores where consumers can drop off "used" RFID tags for recycling...


RE: Heck Yes
By rfidguy on 1/19/2008 12:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
Currently on-pitch RFID tags cost firms purchasing them in the quantity of ~1MM about $0.08 - $0.12 each. However, an on-pitch RFID label is only useful if the company does not wish to embed it in existing barcode labels. The process to convert the RFID tag to a useable label in current supply chain processes adds another ~$0.05 - $0.07 to the label. Other costs include RFID printers (about $2K each), software upgrades and general over to manager installation of RFID into a supply chainn.

RE: Heck Yes
By FITCamaro on 1/18/2008 3:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
The US military already does this.

RE: Heck Yes
By dajeepster on 1/18/2008 4:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
Can you provide a link for this?.. I'd like to read up on it. Thanks in advance.

RE: Heck Yes
By FITCamaro on 1/18/2008 4:20:09 PM , Rating: 3
One such link.,39024663,391541...

A few years back I spoke with a guy who worked for a company that developed such a system. Their hope was to move it into the private and commercial sectors as well.

RE: Heck Yes
By littlebitstrouds on 1/18/08, Rating: -1
RE: Heck Yes
By ImSpartacus on 1/19/2008 5:23:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, my dad is a director of a pharmaceutical warehouse and they have had RFID tags on everything for a while now. His current warehouse was bought a few years ago from Mars (the m&m maker) and everything was modernized including the whole RFID system.

RE: Heck Yes
By Alexstarfire on 1/18/2008 5:33:44 PM , Rating: 5
I have no problem with RFID tags in general. It's not like someone is just gonna walk into WalMart and just scan random RFID tags. They don't really get anything out of it. When these RFID tags start holding my personal information though.... that's when I have a problem with it.

RE: Heck Yes
By Christopher1 on 1/18/2008 10:41:02 PM , Rating: 1
True. Unless there is some type of encryption that only hospitals and other emergency and government workers can get their hands on the key to (and that will be almost IMPOSSIBLE to make come true!), I won't be supporting them either.

RE: Heck Yes
By rfidguy on 1/19/2008 12:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
The type of RFID tags that Wal-Mart is using is UHF ePC Class 1 Gen 2 tags. ePC tags, as their known, have a strict global standard around the way devices (known as readers) access data upon the tag and the way the tag responds to the reader.

That being said, it is possible with the current standard to password protect an RFID tag such that a reader will only be able to access the tag data if and only if it has the password. Likewise, you can lock, or even permalock a tag so that you cannot write additional data to the tag.

For more information on the standards:

For more information on general education:

RE: Heck Yes
By arazok on 1/20/2008 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
You're just worried the government will begin using it to track dirty pervs like you.

It's got my vote.

RE: Heck Yes
By mindless1 on 1/20/2008 11:30:38 AM , Rating: 2
What if they're not scanning random data, they're scanning the products you are about to buy as well as those on your person that you have already bought previously? That seems like personal information to me.

RE: Heck Yes
By rfidguy on 1/20/2008 2:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
As I've stated on my other post, reading ePC data is just one piece of the puzzle, you must dechiper what that data means. That aside, scanning products you are about to buy would not be as easy as looking in your shopping cart and recording it that way. Any personal information, such as a key card in your wallet, that you wish to have kept private, you will need to be sure that the vendor you purchased the item from with the ePC tag locks the tag so that random RFID readers cannot access that data.

RE: Heck Yes
By ThisSpaceForRent on 1/20/2008 10:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Have you every bought anything on the Internet?

RE: Heck Yes
By ivanwolf on 1/19/2008 12:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
The company I work for is working on RFID tagging for product. Being a rental company the product is tagged individually. For a trade show a RFID tag would be great, and the oly info contained would be the SKU and a UID like CHR0001 1005. With scanners on the dock doors, it will be an ideal situation, and the only info contained would be a string of numbers that only had relevance to our company. Now human RFID tagging with detailed info would be a terrible thing, since keeping that data secure would be an absolute nightmare.

RE: Heck Yes
By HighWing on 1/22/2008 2:31:17 PM , Rating: 1
As great as this sounds, and yes I do think it's a good idea for them, I still question how well it will be used. And thats mostly because I have worked inside wal-mart, in fact I've worked inside most of the Wal-Marts in my state and surrounding states. I used to work as a vendor for a company that supplies to Wal-Mart, and as I'm sure any Wal-Mart employee will tell you, most Wal-Marts have some of the messiest back rooms I have ever seen.
Wanna find out where in the warehouse that pallet is? Check the computer.

Now see I read that and think great now the managers are going to have something to argue with you about when you tell them the pallet is NOT where the system says it is. I have been in Wal-Marts where I have had to throw product into a pile to un-burry my pallets that are covered in 6 ft deep piles of product.

So unless they plan to put RFID readers everywhere in the backroom that are capable of tracking pallets in real time and telling you in "real-time" a pallets location, then I see this only causing more trouble for Wal-Mart vendors. Back-room Wal-Mart employees and managers IMO are notorious for moving vendor pallets around on whim, and if it's left up to them to now ALSO track that move with an RFID tag, *laughs* I just don't see that happening.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great thing, and I applaud them for doing so, I just don't see it being used properly however.

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