Unilever trials new RFID standard

Unilever is to test a new RFID standard that could make it easier for retailers and manufacturers to share data generated by the tiny tags.

Unilever is to test a new RFID standard that could make it easier for retailers and manufacturers to share data generated by the tiny tags.

Unilever North America said it will trial the use of the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard to query RFID data provided by retailers.

While retailers can give their suppliers data about RFID-tagged products, there is no standard way for them to sort through the raw data and draw out useful information to help, for example, with promotions or distribution of new products.

Adoption of the standard means that data can be shared by retailers and suppliers regardless of the applications in which data is created or stored.

The Pot-Noodle-to-Persil consumer packaged goods giant plans to conduct a trial to collect and access information from within its own manufacturing operation and from trading partners. By using IBM and T3Ci reports and analysis it hopes to improve promotion management, supply chain visibility and RFID readability.

Unilever IT vice president James Jackson said the standard will deal with the "pressing need" to allow better exchange of data among trading partners and simplify interoperability between different RFID applications, data stores and product information management systems.

He said as RFID begins to proliferate, Epcis will serve as the foundation for manufacturers such as Unilever to gain "valuable insight, predict needs and problems before they occur, and improve our business operations and responsiveness to each of our partners within the supply chain".

EPCIS is expected to be a ratified standard by the fourth quarter of this year.

Steve Ranger of Silicon.com reported from London.

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