Wal-Mart advances its RFID system

Wal-Mart Stores is testing a system to integrate data taken from radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with automated electronic data interchange (EDI) information.

Wal-Mart Stores is testing a system to integrate data taken from radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with automated electronic data interchange (EDI) information.

Wal-Mart is already a retail leader in the implementation of RFID technology. Two years ago it set deadlines of 2005 and 2006 leading suppliers.

In 2004 it mandated its top suppliers to put RFID tags on products shipped to three specified distribution centres and 150 stores. This was expanded to cover three additional distribution centres with 800 stores receiving products from suppliers with RFID tags by last October.

Wal-Mart’s latest RFID effort sees a trial being conducted with a handful of its suppliers and RFID standards body EPCglobal. Wal-Mart eventually plans for RFID tags to trigger advanced ship notices (ASNs) through the EPC Information Service (EPCIS) network.

In the meantime, suppliers can access the RFID information now by logging onto Retail Link, Wal-Mart's web-based database that tracks inventory.

RFID information from shifted or sold products is added to the inventory database every 30 minutes, so suppliers can plan for further deliveries.

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