Wal-Mart mock-up to test RFID

Sun has created a test centre that simulates a Wal-Mart distribution centre in order to evaluate RFID-tag compliance for...

Sun has created a test centre that simulates a Wal-Mart distribution centre in order to evaluate RFID-tag compliance for suppliers.

Sun also said it would include RFID technology in its iForce partner programme, offer RFID warehouse management software that would work with Sun solutions, and a toolkit to test hardware and software compliance with Sun's Java RFID middleware.

The test centre aims to give manufacturers a head start in meeting strict Wal-Mart requirements, including 100% tag read accuracy at the palette and case level when products arrive at the warehouse door and 100% read accuracy along conveyor belts that travel at 600 feet per second.

Julie Sarbacker, director of RFID at Sun, said any IT supplier could use the test centre, whether or not they used Sun hardware or software.

"It is not intended to generate revenue," said Sarbacker. "But we do want customers to think about RFID from an architectural perspective. Data management and data integration is our expertise."

Forrester Research vice-president Sharyn Leaver said that the major IT suppliers were now entering the field with potential infrastructure solutions, although they lacked the packaged algorithms to give IT the ability to get beneath the data in a meaningful way.

"IT needs a solution from a supplier that has a flexible architecture for pretty big logic, like data filtering algorithms, so that some of the hard work can be done for them," she said.

The Sun toolkit includes packaged APIs with documentation and sample code for RFID hardware makers to interface with Sun middleware.

The iForce partner programme is designed for both large and small system integrators to integrate enterprise-level back-end applications into Sun solutions.

Finally, Sun announced a deal with ERP supplier SSA Global for interoperability with its warehouse management system and SIS Technologies for technical support and services.

Sun is also working with SAP to integrate Sun RFID solutions with SAP ERP applications even though SAP has its own RFID middleware solution.

"In this market there is a lot of 'coopetition'," said Sarbacker.

The toolkit is shipping now.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for Infoworld

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