The main barrier to RFID adoption has been cost. For the system to really work, the RFID tags have to be on everything and the readers have to be everywhere—all over distribution centers, in trucks, in stores. Obviously, this is an expensive proposition.
But if such a system could be successfully and economically implemented, says Hayes, “you would actually know where all your stuff is.” The allure of that potential is strong, so all the retail chains are looking into RFID, he says.
Some are already starting to roll it out for expensive items or items at high risk of theft. Tyco ADT and Checkpoint Systems are two companies that already market such solutions. And Hayes says this will increasingly catch on in the market, but it’s hard to say whether that will be in one year, five years, or longer.
Part of the key to success is to find ways to more closely integrate tracking technology with other security technologies, like video surveillance, throughout the supply chain and in stores, says Hayes. That’s the focus of the LPRC’s RFID Center of Excellence. Hayes expects that the center will be “up and running” with some RFID innovation projects by June 2014. That will include live testing in stores or distribution centers. The center hopes to ultimately output best practices guidance to help stores implement solutions and get good return-on-investment metrics.
Asset tracking is an ever-growing field. “There’s a lot of R&D going on,” notes Hayes. And while most businesses may never get to a point where it is worth the cost for every asset to be tagged, RFID and other technologies are sure to be more pervasive in the future.
Laura Spadanuta was formerly a senior associate editor at Security Management.