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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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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: http://www.epcglobalinc.org/home

For more information on general education: http://www.alientechnology.com/blog/


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?


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