S'pore: Companies are embracing RFID

More than US$555 million worth of goods in Singapore have passed through RFID-enabled supply chains since May 2004.

SINGAPORE--With more than S$900 million (US$555 million) worth of goods moved across RFID-enabled supply chains since May 2004, the RFID industry in Singapore has reached a level of maturity, says the country's telecommunications regulator.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) first launched a S$10 million (US$5.9 million) initiative in 2004 to boost the development and adoption of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology in the island-state.

IDA's CEO Chan Yeng Kit, noted at a logistics seminar here Thursday that companies in Singapore's manufacturing, logistics and fast moving consumer goods industries, have been the first groups to use RFID technology to track and monitor their supply chains.

Chan also pointed out that when logistics companies such as Neptune Orient Lines and YCH, fully implement RFID technology within their operations, their trans-shipment supply chains are estimated to handle goods worth "hundreds of billions of dollars".

"This suggests the growing importance of RFID as a key supply chain technology," he said.

In fact, Chan expects the adoption of RFID in Singapore to "pick up in the coming year as prices [of RFID tags] continue to fall". He noted that prices of tags have fallen over the past two years by more than 50 percent, from 50 US cents to between 10 and 20 US cents.

IDA also announced that it is expanding the RFID spectrum allocation to cater to the increasing demand of RFID applications. The Singapore authority will widen the frequency allocation to 920-925 megahertz, which is more than double the existing allocation of 923-925MHz. The power output limits will remain unchanged, said IDA.

With a wider frequency band, the number of errors from reading RFID tags will be reduced as RFID systems can be adjusted to operate within frequency channels that have less interference.

According to Chan, 380 professionals have undergone training in the technology, and 27 companies have committed to invest more than S$30 million (US$17.7 million) in RFID projects since IDA embarked on its RFID push in 2004.

Besides IDA, other government agencies in Singapore have also kicked start projects to develop the country's RFID industry.

In July last year, Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) said it would dish out US$6 million over three years to aid industry partners in commercializing A*STAR's RFID-related intellectual property.

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