Editor's Note: Our popular guest blogger, Chris Kapsambelis, is back with another opinion piece. He asserts that RFID in the supply chain has stalled, and that little or no advantage exists for RFID when compared to the venerable workhorse, the barcode.
By Chris Kapsambelis
After reading Anita Campbell's article "Wal-Mart Extending RFID Mandate But Can Its Website Handle It," I began to wonder why the effort to use RFID in the supply chain appears to be stalled. In the hope of providing some relief to Anita's boredom with Wal-Mart, what follows is my analysis of the current status of RFID in the Supply Chain.
In 2003, the MIT AutoID Center produced their vision of RFID as a replacement for barcode in the supply chain. Their concept emphasized that unlike barcode, RFID did not require "Line-of-Sight." As a result, full automation would be possible through the use of RFID Shelf Readers, and Portal Readers. Portal Readers were to read, at the item level, everything that was shipped and received at every facility (factory, warehouse, or back room). Shelf Readers were to be deployed at shelves for the purpose of reading items at sale or storage locations. The marriage between RFID and the serialized Electronic Product Code (EPC) eliminated the need for laborious inventory counts since RFID readers could produce these counts automatically. This was a vision of a computerized hands-free supply chain. People were expected to perform their functions completely unaware that computers using RFID sensors would keep track of everything. It was "The Internet of Things."