Global logistics company UPS has ruled out introducing radio frequency identification tagging for small-package tracking for the foreseeable future.
UPS said it would continue to evaluate the technology for possible use across other parts of its business.
However, the company said the cost of the cheapest close-range tags would have to come down substantially for RFID to have a role to play in its core small-package delivery business, which handles an average of 1.5 million international packages and documents every day.
“At package level, barcoding is effective and affordable for as far ahead as we can see,” said Nick Gray, vice-president of information services for UPS Europe.
“We have an established barcode infrastructure in place which meets our needs.”
One of the key differences between RFID and barcode technology is that RFID eliminates the need for line-of-sight reading, which barcoding depends on. Also, RFID scanning can be done at greater distances than barcode scanning.
Although RFID technology is not being used by UPS internally, the firm is monitoring advances closely, and is able to offer advice to customers and support RFID’s use in the supply chain.
“We have customers who track shipments where RFID technology is used and we have tracking systems to support them, such as WorldShip,” said Gray.
UPS last year took a stake in US-based G2 Microsystems, which makes RFID chips for managing and tracking mobile devices over Wi-Fi networks.
The chips allow businesses to track mobile hardware assets worldwide to monitor their usage and update their security.
The technology uses location-based tracking by tapping into Wi-Fi hotspots, which could include warehouses, offices and delivery locations.
UPS drivers and staff use a range of mobile devices to manage and track deliveries.
This was first published in June 2006