Wal-Mart turns on radio tags

Wal-Mart has launched a pilot program using radio frequency identification technology, as it moves ahead with plans for all its top suppliers to be using the inventory-tracking tags by January, the retail giant said Friday.

The pilot program is a significant step in Wal-Mart's much-publicized mandate for the technology known as RFID. Wal-Mart is requiring the company's top 100 suppliers to have the technology in place by the beginning of next year. RFID tags are chips armed with radio frequency antennas that provide detailed product information and allow for better tracking of inventory. Wal-Mart believes it can garner major savings by using the tags to improve its overall inventory management. Wal-Mart said it turned on an RFID tracking system at eight sites in the Dallas area, including seven of its "supercenters" and one of its distribution centers. Joining Wal-Mart in the pilot is a laundry list of major consumer products vendors: Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Nestle Purina PetCare, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

Executives from the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail chain said they believe the pilot will immediately demonstrate the efficiency inherent in using the tags. Simon Longford, Wal-Mart's strategy manager for RFID, said his company remains committed to having the technology up and running on a much larger scale in the near future.

News source: C|net

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