Oracle Adds RFID Support To Its Software

Vendor integrates radio-frequency identification technology and electronic-product -code capabilities into Oracle Warehouse Management to improve visibility into the supply chain.



Oracle announced Tuesday at its AppsWorld conference in San Diego that it has integrated radio-frequency identification technology and electronic-product-code capabilities into Oracle Warehouse Management software.

The software will use Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g to deliver a platform that can accommodate large data transactions and improve order fulfillment. The package is expected to assist companies in complying with recent mandates from Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense for their suppliers to use RFID tags on case- and pallet-level shipments.

Features include pallet and case-level tagging for automatic processing of inbound and outbound shipments. Built-in integration with RFID middleware in Oracle Application Server 10g for connection control and filtering capabilities required with receiving data also is provided. Oracle's software is compatible with RFID tags from Allen Technology, Intermac Technologies, Zebra Technologies, and others.

"We also are looking at additional ways to standardize products on the latest generation of maintenance and management for the Electronic Product Code, integrating it with our bill of materials and product life-cycle management tools," says Jon Chorley, senior director of warehouse management and inventory at Oracle.

Although RFID appears to be gaining traction, price remains a barrier to widespread implementation. Ink manufacturer Flint Ink is researching ways to reduce costs for tags by printing conductive ink that resembles a bar code on tags' antennas in lieu of using copper to transmit signals wirelessly on packages. Eliminating copper in the chip's antenna would dramatically decrease the cost of the tag, says Rick Baron, regional sales director at Allen Technology, during a panel discussion on RFID.

"It would be 2006 under the right circumstances and utilizing the correct ink before the industry sees 5-cents per tag," Baron says. "The five-cent opportunity represents volume, not necessarily a 10,000-unit tag order." Baron estimates 10 million tags run between 16 cents and 20 cents each.

"Companies that adopt the technology can initially expect higher costs," says Paul Speese, CEO at DataVision Corp., a mobile and wireless solutions provider. "There are special cases where some have already seen a return on investment because they were able to conduct product recalls more effectively. For most, however, that's not the case."

RFID advocates believe the tag price will become insignificant as adoption increases. The technology is expected to bring savings in the long term.

Oracle's anticipated RFID announcement was consistent with this year's AppsWorld theme based on integration, compliance, and improving data quality. Says Chorley, "Longer-term, the value is around improved visibility in the supply chain."

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