GM China Awaits RFID Standard

It's a push and pull issue--large companies want to extend their existing IT tools, including RFID technologies, into overseas operations, but the Chinese government has issues about adopting an international standard that would put the royalties into the pockets of Western vendors.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

April 11, 2005

2 Min Read

General Motors China will hold off using radio-frequency identification technology in its assembly and supply-chain operations until the Chinese government decides on an in-country standard for the RFID tags, a top GM China official said Monday at the InformationWeek Spring Conference in Amelia Island, Fla.

Addons Wu, CIO of General Motors China (left), with Mark Mechem, director of business advisory services for the U.S.-China Business Council.Photo by Sacha Lecca

"Right now, there are no standards," said GM China CIO Addons Wu. "There are only rumors about the government establishing a standard, so right now people are not moving very fast" with RFID adoption in China.

GM is now using RFID on a limited scaled for its domestic manufacturing operations in the United States. Like most multinationals expanding into China, the company would like to extend its existing IT tools into that country without having to make major, costly modifications. If China adopts an RFID standard that's different from what's used elsewhere in the world, it could create just such a problem for global companies like GM.

Wu said GM China is looking at a number of RFID solutions but is waiting for a clear signal from the government on what standard it will adopt. "We're thinking about it," he said.

For its part, the Chinese government doesn't want to adopt an international standard that would force Chinese companies using the technology to pay royalties to Western RFID vendors. "The government is looking to exploit its market clout," said Mark Mechem, director of business advisory services for the U.S.-China Business Council, speaking on a panel with Wu.

RFID systems feature tiny tags that transmit data signals. The tags can be attached to parts or finished goods to help manufacturers and retailers improve their operations by tracking the whereabouts of their goods.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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