Industry Watch: RFID For Security--Mostly



The use of radio-frequency identification tags is often discussed in connection with inventory control, but more developers apply the technology to security applications, a survey released last week indicates. The survey of 450 developers in Europe, Asia, North America, and Latin America found three in 10 using RFID in security applications and only two in 10 using it in inventory-control software, Evans Data Corp. said. The remaining developers were about evenly split in their use of RFID in applications for tracking industrial equipment, shipping, and vehicle identification.

The results surprised Evans Data analyst Jason Kaczor, who led the project. "My assumption originally was that inventory tracking would be the highest use for RFID," Kaczor says. The results suggest companies remain intensely security conscious since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "Security is of utmost importance to organizations, and it's also a growing area of business opportunity."

RFID technology has been in the spotlight since Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said last year it would require its suppliers to be ready to track goods using RFID tags in 2005. Other large retailers have made similar announcements since, including Albertsons Inc. and Target Corp.

RFID use for inventory control lags behind security because of the cost, Kaczor says. The cost for each RFID tag is less than 10 cents, but that's still far more expensive than bar codes, which cost a fraction of a penny. Depending on its size, a company can use millions of tags. "Right now, the cost outweighs the benefit," Kaczor says. "But as the cost comes down, inventory-control usage will go up."

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