Line56 reports on Walmart’s decision to direct its top 100 retailers to have all their cases and pallets “chipped” by January 1, 2005.
Wal-Mart’s mandate, along with the adoption of an RFID standard led by EAN-UCC, means the mainstreaming of RFID. “The top 100 Wal-Mart suppliers will use something like 8 billion tags a year,” Pete Abell of AMR Research says, indirectly highlighting the vendor opportunity. Indeed, two vendors — Manhattan Associates, a supply chain execution (SCE) specialist and Alien Technologies, best known for its deal with Gillette — have already decided to announce a packaged RFID solution targeted at Wal-Mart suppliers, among others.
Abell explains how the mandate will impact the operations of Wal-Mart suppliers. “If I’m Smucker’s and I put 16 jars of jam into a case, I have to have a reader-writer that writes to the tag, saying it’s Smucker’s, and adds a serial number. I have to integrate that into my software and material handling.” Another aspect of the RFID initiative — tags for cases — will largely be taken care of “By corrugated guys like Georgia-Pacific and Weyerhauser,” Abell says.
Abell adds that Wal-Mart is already working with several suppliers in the context of the Auto-ID Center, and that this will make the transition easier. He concludes that Wal-Mart is deeply committed to the initiative. “They’re doing this the way they did barcodes.”