Group reports on RFID pilot study

Results of a year-long pilot project on RFID usage involving the CSIRO and the Australian Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) and the private sector were released yesterday.

The National Demonstrator Project, funded by a A$200,000 (US$150,000) grant from the department's Information Technology on Line division last year, involved using RFID tags and readers across an entire supply chain through partners Chep, Gillette, Linfox, Verisign, Sun Microsystems, Metcash and the CSIRO. Gillette, however, has since stopped using the RFID-enabled system.

Fiona Wilson, general manager of standards development at GS1 Australia (formerly EAN Australia), which oversaw the project, said although the trial was in the fast moving consumer goods industry, the results are applicable to every single industry interested in an efficient supply chain through the use of RFID technology.

"The project implemented not just RFID tags and hardware but filtering software, the database to capture events and item-specific information which allowed complete visibility for all participants across the supply chain," Wilson said.

"In normal business practice you might not want partners to access all information, but for the purpose of the demonstration we wanted to prove we could share all information up and down the supply chain with more than just direct partners.

"We wanted all Australian industry to learn from this project as a lot of pilots have just focused on the RFID side and point-to-point communications between one organization and an immediate training partner. We wanted to implement the RFID tags and explain how the networked [operated]."