The Minister for the Department of Information Technology, Communications and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan used her opening address at the GSI Impetus 2006 conference in Melbourne this week to launch a guide to RFID adoption for Australian business.
GS1 Australia allocates barcodes and numbering systems for e-commerce, promoting international standards for item identification, data capture and data synchronization with trading partners via the GS1 pool.
In the pre-recorded address, Coonan said in many instances Australia is at the forefront of research into RFID usage and the government committed to helping all businesses in embracing opportunities the technology offers.
"For many years we have seen the technology work in road toll tags but automated data capture using RFID systems creates huge scope. It is vital Australian businesses remain competitive here and overseas," Coonan said.
"The inventory and supply chain is leading the way and the use of RFID to track pallets and individual stock. It is a revolution every bit as significant as barcodes were in the 80s.
"Even at this early stage we have seen significant Australian RFID successes and the case studies in the guide, Getting the Most from RFID, are to help understanding and provide useful news. The starter guide is aimed mainly at the SME space and serves as an introductory guide to potential RFID benefits."
A copy of Getting the Most out of RFID is available for download from the Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts Web site.
Unfortunately though, it seems only a small number of global businesses are adopting the use of standards for data exchange in relation to business transactions for RFID tagged goods.
Maria Palazzolo, chief executive officer of GS1 Australia, said business is maturing in the use of standards for e-commerce transactions, but warned many do not yet have the basic data standards correct.
"There are 1500 companies in Australia and only a small percentage is taking advantage of the existing standards [for business-to-business exchange]," Palazzolo said.
"We don't have the basics right yet and I would like to think of the 1600 companies currently involved that they are doing it right, but they are not. We have much more to gain from using basic global standards.
Sally Herbert, president of the Global Data Synchronization Network, said a key part to the data interchange is both retailers and manufacturers keeping quality data sets. Herbert said data quality is the foundation to data synchronization with trading partners and cited a recent Global Commerce Initiative study of implementations worldwide.
The Global Data Synchronization Network connects the data pools of retailers and suppliers to the GS1 Global Registry.
"The study found 30 percent of current item data is incorrect, which costs between $US60 and $80 per error to fix, and to cleanse takes about 25 minutes per stock keeping unit per year," Herbert said.
"Some 60 percent of invoices were found to have errors with 40 to 45 percent of these involving deductions."
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