Conclusion - Page 3
December 23, 2003
Printers have been available for a long time for bar codes and for printed labels, but they are quite new in the RFID space. RFID printers are standard bar code printers with an RFID interrogator, enabling the printer to program the embedded chip and print a label.
Human readable labels, both with and without bar codes, are found on all kinds of products and items in the supply chain. Adding a RFID tag inlay behind the label to carry product ID and other data will prove to be a leading application for RFID technology.
Already this concept has been named the "smart label". Recent RFID supply chain compliance mandates will escalate the use of RFID "smart labels". "Smart labels" may be printed and coded simultaneously by the latest generation of RFID enabled printer/tag writers.
Both Intermec and Zebra now offer devices capable of this function in anticipation of significant future demand for this RFID application.
RFID has all of the security problems posed by traditional WLANs. Deployments face the same issues with security protocols, the need to rotate passwords frequently (especially in large rollouts where many people know the same password), and other problems familiar to wireless network administrators.
To solve most of these problems (technology cannot prevent human error), Tech Center has developed the TC-Brick network security appliance, a hardened Client Bridge that automatically rotates WEP keys via Wavelink Avalanche client software and connects Ethernet and RS 232 devices to the WLAN.
As RFID deployments grow in size and complexity, the security hardware and software they require will grow in tandem.
You need a partner
Tech Center has noted, with some alarm, that some companies are selling RFID vendor development kits. Given the complexities outlined above, any RFID implementation rolled out by a novice is doomed.
At this moment, the industry consists of the following companies:
4 major chip technology providers: Philips, Texas Instruments, EM Microelectronic-Marin SA, and Impinj, plus several smaller players.
Over 35 major tag providers including Intermec, Texas Instruments, RafSec, KSW-Microtec, Hana, BiStar, and others.
Over 15 universal reader/interrogator vendors including Intermec, Texas Instruments, Philips, Sharp, Transcore, Samsys, AWID, Matrics, Alien Technologies, and others.
But there are very few experienced solutions providers. Global consulting companies like IBM Global Services and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young compete in this space.
Companies like Tech Center that have real hands on experience and actual implementations in RFID, Bar Code, WLAN, WMS, MES, ERP, CRM and custom software integration are today's answer and assurance to the successful, on time and within budget, RFID rollout.
RFID opportunities will certainly grow, but the opportunities and their import are widely misunderstood. That's the subject of a future article, "Five RFID Myths Exposed."
Reprinted from ISP Planet.