Sun launches RFID initiatives as mandates loom

Related tags Rfid Supply chain management

Sun Microsystems has been working on a number of initiatives
designed to help manufacturers improve supply chain efficiency and
achieve RFID compliance in time.

For example, the company has cooperated with SIS Technologies, a premier provider of infrastructure, technical support, services, and technology solutions and SSA Global, a leading provider of extended enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, to deliver an RFID warehouse management solution.

This targeted solution is designed to help manufacturers and distributors reduce costs and improve efficiency by using RFID technology to automate expensive manual processes such as inventory tracking and management.

The primary component of this joint solution is SSA RFID, which enables all SSA Global products with RFID technology, including their warehouse management solution. SSA RFID is powered by Sun Java System RFID Software, and deployed through infrastructure integration services from SIS Technologies.

This integrated solution improves customer's ability to share up-to-date information about stock and goods in transit, and comply with new regulations mandated by large commercial and government departments.

"We needed to implement various technologies that would enable our customers in their quest to comply with RFID requirements from Wal-Mart and other companies,"​ said Douglas Chaney, president of DC Logistics.

"We set out to create the first operational third party facility in the country and the team from Sun, SSA Global, and SIS Technologies came together rapidly to RFID-enable the most widely accepted third party logistics warehouse management solution, Exceed 4000. This will allow us to increase our material handling productivity and to more effectively manage and track the movement of materials."

RFID technology is being driven hard by retailers such as Metro and Wal-Mart, which see RFID as the natural replacement of industry's current bar code-based tracking systems, allowing companies to automatically track inventory throughout an entire supply chain.

Wal-Mart is now but six months away from its deadline for the top 100 suppliers to put tags on all pallets and cases. In Europe, legislation enforcing manufacturing traceability comes into force in January 2005.

The Sun iForce Partner Programme is another scheme currently being worked on. This is designed to help companies reduce risk through an open relationship model, to enable companies to develop their own products around RFID using components designed to drive knowledge transfer, technical understanding, solution development, and demand creation.

Independent software vendors (ISVs), independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and system integration (SIs) companies can utilise the Sun RFID offering to help them build and execute more effective solutions around their customer engagement strategies.

"We see partners as a critical component to building end-to-end RFID solutions that address real customer business problems,"​ said Stephen Borcich, vice president, market and industry development at Sun Microsystems.

"By providing greater access to our RFID programs and technologies, we are making it easy for companies to participate with Sun on RFID initiatives."

Sun​ will be showcasing its RFID initiatives at the EPCglobal Conference, and will be holding a conference with Wal-Mart to demonstrate how a missing, misrouted, counterfeit or diverted case can be identified and re-associated with its order.

EPCglobal Inc, a joint venture of EAN International and the Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) is a not-for-profit organisation entrusted by industry to establish and support the EPCglobal Network as the global standard for real-time, automatic identification of information in the supply chain of any company, anywhere in the world.

The EPCglobal Network combines Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, existing communications network infrastructure, and the Electronic Product Code (a number for uniquely identifying an item) to enable accurate, cost-efficient visibility of information in the supply chain.

RFID technology is based on a relatively simple concept. It consists of two elements that communicate through radio transmission - a tag and a reader. The tag contains a small chip and an antenna and can be placed on any object. The information on the tag, such as an identification number, can be transmitted to an RFID reader over a distance of a few metres.

Related topics Drug Delivery

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