Intermec Technologies and The METRO Group, recently carried out the industry's first public demonstration of an EPC Generation 2 RFID (radio frequency identification) system at the METRO Group's stand at the 2005 ECR Europe Conference and Marketplace. During the demonstration, Intermec Intellitag Gen 2 smart labels were read by an RFID-enabled Intermec IF5 reader as an RFID-tagged pallet of RFID-tagged cases was pushed through a portal.
The public demonstration follows the first successful use of an EPC Generation 2 RFID system at METRO Group's RFID Innovation Centre in Neuss, Germany earlier this month. The next step will be to equip Metro's RFID Innovation Centre with Generation 2 technology to test system performance. The companies also plan to update Metro's Future Store supply chain with Gen 2 capabilities to test the technology under real-life conditions.
"Generation 2 RFID is here now," said Dr. Gerd Wolfram, executive project manager of the METRO Group Future Store Initiative. "This demonstration meets a key METRO Group objective: we wanted to ensure that our existing RFID systems would seamlessly migrate forward to the ISO-based Gen 2 solution."
"The demonstration of Gen 2 tags being read by an Intermec IF5 reader, in production since last September, is a significant step forward for the market," said Scott Medford, Vice President of RFID at Intermec Technologies. "It dispels the myth that Gen 2 is somewhere in the distant future, if ever. It proves that properly designed products can be deployed and then upgraded via software to accommodate new features, standards, or regulations. And it clearly demonstrates that several technology companies can work together to create products that comply with international standards in order to satisfy the requirements of a global economy."
By the end of 2005, more than 100 METRO Group suppliers are expected to migrate to Generation 2 RFID technology for improved asset tracking and inventory control. METRO Group, which has 2,300 stores in 30 countries around the world, launched its first RFID pilot project in November 2004. To date more than 100,000 pallets have been read using Metro's current RFID system.
The system is the latest step in the successful implementation of Intermec RFID equipment at METRO Group's RFID Innovation Centre, its Future Store and at several of its distribution centres. The company's largest and busiest distribution centre, located in Unna, Germany, is equipped with Intermec IF5 Intelligent RFID readers and Intellitag RFID tags.
One of the industry's first intelligent RFID readers, the Intermec IF5 performs on-board decision-making - similar to a server connected to an RFID reader - to filter incoming RFID tag data. By acting as an edge server running custom applications, the IF5 can filter information from tags received from up to four antennas, monitor external sensors and control audible and visual indicators. In this way it acts as the heart of a complete RFID reader system without the expense and potential additional failure point of a separate server that is often required by other RFID scanning solutions.