Do RFID Tags Work Well Enough?

Nov 03, 2003

By George Anderson

Consumer privacy groups can take a deep breath, say retail industry analysts, because radio frequency identification (RFID) technology doesn’t work well enough for a broad rollout,
even if costs for the tags were lower.

RFID tags do not yet match UPC tag reliability, in part because it is not always possible to get a clear radio signal.

“Radio frequency has some limitations. It cannot be read through liquid … or through metal. If you have nylon conveyor belts it causes RF noise. We don’t know what happens
when you shrink-wrap this stuff,” Kara Romanow, a senior analyst at AMR Research told Reuters.

IDC analyst Christopher Boone said, “We are at an incredibly early stage of this technology and what it is actually capable of doing. All the promise of real-time supply chain
visibility is just that. It’s promise.”

More attention has been paid to the potential of technology ever since Wal-Mart called on suppliers to have all their products RFID tagged by 2005. Major suppliers will be meeting
with Wal-Mart this week to discuss the program’s implementation.

Moderator’s Comment: Is the implementation of RFID technology in the next couple of years more wishful thinking than practical thought?

We understand that talk at last week’s Productivity Conference was largely that manufacturers and distributors believe the widespread use of RFID is a long
ways away, even if Wal-Mart is calling for it. Many openly question whether suppliers will meet Wal-Mart’s deadline.
Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "Do RFID Tags Work Well Enough?"

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Chris Kapsambelis
Chris Kapsambelis
17 years 15 days ago
RFID tags for use in the retail supply chain do NOT work any better then barcodes. The reasons are as follows: 1. Unlike all the hype, the tags are directional and must be facing the reader. 2. Tags not facing the reader do not read. 3. Any metallic or liquid surface between reader and tag will cause failure. 4. Tags inline to the reader block reading of any tags behind them. 5. Group reading of tags, such as a pallet load of cases, is limited to 50% to 80% depending on content. 6. Each and every item to be tagged must to be experimentally examined for tag placement. 7. Unrestricted and unlimited numbers of readers are not possible due to reader to reader interference, and reader to tag interference. The general response to these limitations is that the technology is still immature, and future developments will overcome these problems. Unfortunately, the technology is ill-conceived. The same laws of physics, that prevent the reading of barcodes behind visible obstructions, are responsible for the inability to read… Read more »