More than 500 people from 31 countries gathered in Boston, MA, USA, in late March to learn more about radio frequency identification. Smart Labels USA 2006 was hosted by IDTechEx in the Westin Copley Place Hotel, and addressed a multitude of aspects of RFID technology.
Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, opened the conference with an overview of the past, present and near future of the RFID industry. Representatives from General Electric, LG Innotek, the US departments of defense and of homeland security spoke about how they are currently using RFID technology and how they hope to use it in the future. Lynn DeRose from GE explained one pilot program that uses RFID to allow only drivers of tractor-trailers with inventory to open the truck’s doors for security. She stressed the use of in-house testing for RFID.
Nicholas Tsougas told attendees about how the Department of Defense has been using active RFID tags for 15 years, but is now moving into passive tags to improve data security and enhance asset visibility.
The next group of speakers talked about RFID in the retail sector. Jamshed Dubash, director of technology, auto ID at Gillette Co., spoke about the implementation stages of RFID and its effect on sales. He cited a 20 percent sales increase from promotional display cases of Fusion, one of Gillette’s razors that used RFID.
Herbert Markwardt, project leader of RFID for Tyson Foods, touched on the limitations of RFID with respect to foods. He said cold temperatures negatively affected the RFID process and therefore was one of the areas that needed additional research and development.
Geoff Seago, VP of sales and marketing for the Emirates Technical Innovation Centre, spoke about the world’s first supermarket deploying full item level RFID tagging, which is located in Dubai.
Felix Helander, director of business intelligence at Rexam, spoke about packaging in the beverage, food, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries and stressed the need for innovation. Paul Fox, chairman of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting, talked about the impact counterfeiting has on the world and how RFID could be used to lessen the dangers associated with the illegal practice.
Part of the second day addressed RFID labels and converting. David Puleston of Avery Dennison stressed the importance of tags meeting clear performance standards. He said implementing a consistent testing framework is important and is currently under addressed. He believes that with better testing, the results can be used to improve tag designs. He also told attendees that Gen 2 offers better performance, is more predictable and has higher yields than Gen 1 tags, which he believes will no longer be used.
Hadi Ogawa, RFID IC business division supervisor at Toppan Printing, explained his company’s use of RFID in admission tickets to Expo 2005 Aichi in Japan. The event lasted 185 days and had 22,049,544 visitors.
Jan Svoboda, business development director of UPM Raflatac, discussed the importance of quality and cost of an RFID operation. He said quality could be affected by RFID components, manufacturing processes, handling, and product design. He told listeners that costs come from a variety of sources including direct labor, direct materials, equipment depreciation, and indirect costs. Svoboda said quality assurance is easy with low quantities of RFID tags. He said, however, that it becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, to assure quality when running at capacity. He believes these issues need to be addressed.
Other topics discussed on the second day of the conference were chip RFID developments, chipless RFID,