Supply chain standards body e.centre has moved to allay fears that differences in frequency and power levels for RFID technologies between Europe and the US will affect the competitiveness of UK companies.
At a recent roundtable attended by firms such as Nestle and Tesco, concerns were raised that European radio regulations could compromise RFID use across the continent, negating the much touted benefits of the technology.
However, Andrew Osborne, chief technology officer for e.centre, said that the levels expected to be approved would enable European firms to closely emulate US reader systems, which are more powerful at the moment.
"There is a lot of confusion about the power and frequency of RFID tags and readers and this needs to be addressed," Osborne said. "However, there is a clear timetable for European frequency and power regulations to be finalised both at a continental and country level. This means that tags can move internationally and be easily read."
European regulation of power levels will be resolved later this year, but they are likely to allow operation at 2 Watts effective radiated power (ERP) level, which gives 90% of the range of the 4 Watt equivalent isotropic radiated power (EIRP) level allowed in US readers. Power levels affect the distance at which tags can be read.
The proposed new regulations will enable tags to operate in the 865-868MHz band. The same tags will also work in the 902-928MHz range used in North and South America and in the bands expected to be used in China and Japan.
Retailers and manufacturers should therefore continue planning for the widespread adoption of the technology, Osborne said.
“What is important is that both retailers and suppliers get ready for the arrival of RFID,” he said. “They should run pilot schemes within those power ranges and frequencies and find which products and systems work best for them ahead of a full deployment.”
A global survey of 90 retailers and manufacturers has revealed that the majority of respondents do not have timelines for RFID deployments, despite having already allocated budget for the technology.
The research, from Deloitte, the ePC Group and Retail Systems Alert, found that less than 10% of retailers and less than 40% of manufacturers had forecasted target dates and goals for a phased introduction of their RFID implementations.
Nevertheless, 28% of the respondents said they plan to spend at least £275,000 on RFID this year with some putting aside £5.5m for the technology.