RFID-M2M Takes Root in Manufacturing Sector

As manufacturers face increased pressure to lower costs, improve supply chain and inventory management, and track assets throughout the manufacturing process, they have become painfully aware of the limitations of bar-code technology.

Specifically bar codes are a read-only technology that does not allow for information to be added during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, they are often difficult or impossible to read because of their physical location.

For several years, manufacturers have toyed with radio frequency identification (RFID), which utilizes tags to be "written to," allowing significantly more information to be added about throughout the manufacturing process. For instance, RFID tags can be loaded with production dates and locations for products, and it is easier to track the raw materials that are used in the development of a finished product.

Because RFID tags use wireless networks, they can be scanned by static or handheld readers from distances of several hundred feet, regardless of where the tag is physically located. They also can be linked to databases, where more information about products and raw materials is stored. Each tag has a unique identification, so security can be added to limit access to only those readers that have the right to access the information on the tag.

As a result, manufacturers are increasing deployments of RFID systems throughout the manufacturing process. Although the cost of RFID tags remains significantly higher than that of bar codes, the benefits gained through RFID are prompting manufacturers to implement the technology with an eye toward reaping those benefits.

Major corporations in a multitude of industries – ranging from aerospace to oil and gas to electronics – are currently using RFID to manage several machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, including inventory management, shipping and delivery, tracking parts, work in progress and employee data. As these companies begin achieving return on investment (ROI) on their RFID and M2M implementations, it will have a trickle-down effect into different types of industries and applications.

These developments are discussed thoroughly in the newest Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, "Manufacturers Show Increased Interest in RFID-M2M Systems." This report examines how RFID and M2M technology is being used in the manufacturing sector today, as well as expected trends over the next 24 months. It details opportunities that service providers have in the market, including areas with the most growth potential for the next 24 months. It includes a comparative analysis of solutions available in the market and examines the geographic landscape of the market for service providers and challenges the industry presents.

This shift in attitude means a great deal for service providers and RFID vendors that are willing to invest in the technology. Without question, those investments will have a longer return on investment (ROI), driven largely by the price of the tags themselves. But those companies that are willing to delay financial gratification stand to gain a great deal by being the first to introduce new technologies, standardize systems and gain the loyalty of large-scale manufacturers, retailers and others in the manufacturing ecosystem.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider

The report, Manufacturers Show Increased Interest in RFID-M2M Systems, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.

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