Your RFID Battle Plan
- 05 November, 2007 13:40
Tracking chemicals through the manufacturing and distribution process is a critical requirement for Dow Chemical, to ensure safety and operational efficiency. In 2004, identification technologies such as RFID tags had gained significant buzz due to initiatives by the US Defence Department and Wal-Mart to mandate their use in supply chain and inventory management applications. So CIO Dave Kepler periodically asked his IT staff whether Dow could take advantage of these technologies. The repeated answer: RFID was not mature enough.
But Kepler wasn't sure the scepticism was warranted. So in late 2005, he asked his staff to think about RFID differently. His request: Define the problems first, then see which technologies might be useful to address them - viewing RFID technology as a possible tactic in the larger product tracking strategy. "He didn't want technology for technology's sake, but he did want tight alignment to the corporate strategy," recalls Dave Asiala, a shared services IT director at Dow, who served as a member of the strategy development committee and assumed leadership of the implementation efforts.
Today, Dow has several pilot projects in place to test RFID and other location-oriented technologies such as GPS, two-way radios and traditional barcodes. Early projects have shown that sometimes - such as when it's paired with a sensor log to transmit environmental readings during shipments - the use of RFID makes sense. But at other times barcodes still prove cheaper and easier.
Dow's not alone: Despite years of discussion and "here's what you could do" stories from vendors, RFID remains in the pilot stage at many firms, especially outside the established retail warehouse and distribution use on pallets and shipping containers. Both the RFID technology and marketplace are fragmented and slow-moving, analysts say, and costs remain high. A Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) study earlier this year showed that while 84 percent of providers expect to offer RFID technology in the next three years, 66 percent say their customers have yet to implement RFID. That doesn't mean you should ignore RFID.
Dow's "keep your eyes open" approach is the right one, says Colin Masson, a research director at AMR Research. By itself, he says, RFID is still not a strategic technology that CIOs should have high on their agendas. But it can be useful in service of those strategies.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
Larry Page wants to see your medical records
Dual-Persona Smartphones Not a BYOD Panacea
After two-year hiatus, EFF accepts bitcoin donations again
CIOs struggle to deliver timely mobile business apps: survey
Spiceworks' free management software gets integrated MDM
New Demands for Real-time Threat Management
Many organisations are evaluating a new security model based upon IT risk management best practices. This is a good idea, but not enough for today’s dynamic and malevolent threat landscape. To keep up with IT changes and external threats, large organisations need to embrace two new security practices: real-time risk management for day-to-day security adjustments and real-time threat management to detect and remediate sophisticated, stealthy, and damaging security breaches (i.e., advanced persistent threats, or APTs). Learn more.
Batten Down the Hatches! A Guide to Protecting Data in Motion
The risks facing high-speed data networks and unencrypted data while in motion are very real and on the rise. As information becomes one of the most valuable ‘off balance sheet’ assets, protection of that information and the investment in it is a paramount obligation of office-holders and management. Read now for a better understanding of the risks to data in motion.
HP Helps NEC Reduce Network Management Costs and Gain Efficiencies
NEC wanted to reduce network management costs, while increasing network visibility, decreasing mean-time-to-repair, improving stability and mitigating the risk of downtime. Download today to hear from Cameron Craig, Senior department manager of NEC on what approach they took and why.