UK supermarket chain Tesco and European retail giants Carrefour and Metro Group have joined forces with chip manufacturer Intel to accelerate the adoption of Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies, such as RFID.
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The companies have formed a working group, called the EPC Retail Users of Europe, to provide a forum for European retailers to identify and share best practice for implementing EPC-based technologies, such as RFID tags and readers.
EPC, a 96-bit numbering system that assigns a unique tracking number to every item that leaves a factory, combined with RFID tags, which allow goods to be tracked along the supply chain, will improve inventory management and lead to reduced operating costs and higher margins, the group said.
The group, whose retail members are all piloting EPC and RFID in their stores, will develop documents and white papers on successful implementations, technologies and usage models and share them across the retail industry.
Gerd Wolfram, project manager of Metro Group’s Future Store initiative, said, “In this new working group we will drive forward international best methods for the EPC. This will be a cornerstone for the future of RFID in retailing.”
Intel's role in the working group is to provide advice as to how retailers can implement technologies such as scanners and handheld devices that work with EPC and RFID technologies, said John Davies, vice president of the sales and marketing group at Intel. It will share details of upcoming processors which can be used in inventory tracking devices, he added.
Last month, Tesco, which has been trialling RFID at a handful of its UK stores, mandated that some products must be RFID-tagged by July 2004.
Colin Cobain, IT director at Tesco, said, “We recognise the importance of implementing an efficient supply chain and the benefits EPC and RFID could bring. We are currently trialling radio barcodes within our distribution network and have already seen some benefits. We hope to be able to roll this out soon.”