IBM Expands RFID Offerings

IBM has announced several new services and technologies to help push radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to industrial companies. The new services are geared toward the automotive, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, chemicals and paper and electronics companies.

IBM initially partnered with Philips Semiconductors in providing the RFID technology. Entering the RFID arena early as one of the first RFID chipmakers, Philips initiated a joint trial with IBM in November 2003 to improve the business processes within the Philips and IBM manufacturing and distribution supply chains.

Piloted at Philips Semiconductors’ Kao Hsiung manufacturing site in Taiwan and its distribution center in Hong Kong, IBM and Philips tagged wafer cases and carton packages with RFID chips during the trial.

“While IBM has seen explosive growth in demand for RFID in retail and consumer product goods, increasingly IBM’s industrial customers are using RFID to cut costs, improve quality and create efficiencies on the plant floor, in warehouses and transportation,” said Faye Holland, worldwide RFID solutions leader for IBM Global Services.

The new RFID services from IBM have emerged out of this initial partnership with Philips. And in light of the recent mandates from the Department of Defense and the implementation of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, companies outside the retail industry have been adopting RFID systems.

For example, the Department of Defense said last year it wanted its suppliers to start attaching RFID tags to their goods by January 1, 2005, and IBM is advising the U.S. Department of Defense on the use of RFID. The TREAD Act contains provisions requiring vehicle and equipment manufacturers to report on a wide variety of information that could indicate the existence of potential vehicle safety defects.

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