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Radio tags for M&S trays

Antony Adshead
Marks & Spencer has announced plans to launch the world's biggest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag roll-out.

The tagging of 3.5 million food trays will speed data capture in the supply chain by up to six times, enable real-time logistics tracking and give instant access to product data.

Marks & Spencer also aims to drive use of RFID down into supplier companies.

RFID tags are read automatically as pallets or cases of goods pass through warehouse readers. They have been used for some time in motor manufacturing and are set to replace manually scanned barcodes in the packaged goods industry.

Analyst Simon Bragg, of ARC Consulting, said, "RFID will allow greater visibility in the supply chain, better traceability, forecasting, security and automation. More finely-grained knowledge of what is where in the supply chain will give the ability to move staff accordingly, help to take out excess inventory.

"The downside is that as it becomes economically viable to RFID label smaller units it will create ever greater amounts of data and become a challenge to scalability," Bragg said.

Simon Mackinder, warehouse systems manager at Geest Prepared Foods, a supplier to M&S, said, "We expect to benefit from automatic proof-of-delivery and dispatch information being fed into our systems."

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