Preparing For The EPC

New tool enables companies to analyze and plan for implementationof the Electronic Product Code.


  • Cost of tags. Today, tags that cost less than 10 cents apiece make them commercially viable for pallet and case level. But item tagging means potentially trillions of objects. A tag would have to cost fractions of a penny for that to be commercially viable.
  • "Realistically, we do see item level tagging occurring, but probably not for another eight to 10 years, by which stage volume in terms of the use of EPC tags will increase, and therefore we'll see a reduction in the unit cost of the tag," he says.

    Meanwhile, Karlen of Oat Systems enthuses about "tremendous progress" being made. The firm developed a Pathway to ROI for Consumer Products that outlines initial ROI opportunities for CPG companies based on work with the industry’s early adopters. Initial applications include electronic proof--of--delivery solutions to reduce deductions; promotions executions and new product introductions. The company provides the RFID framework for Gillette, Kimberly--Clark, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Sherwin Williams and others, and for half the retailers that have issued RFID mandates.

    "Given the pace of new retailer initiatives, the tipping point is likely to occur in early 2006," he says. "We are already working with our most innovative CPG companies to roll out RFID deployments to multiple sites and upstream to manufacturing plants."

    EPC vs. RFID

    What is EPC?

  • EPC identifies unique items at the pallet, case, tote or unit level;
  • It provides a standard coding scheme for manufacturers and retailers to track products at a serial level (similar to UPC, except it allows for tracking of discrete products);
  • The EPC network is an open, standards--based system for sharing unique product identification and tracking information among partners in the value chain.
  • What is RFID?

  • RFID is a technology for the automatic transmission of data;
  • It uses radio frequency waves to read data encoded on a tag--without requiring line of sight from tag to reader;
  • RFID has existed since the 1940s and is used in proprietary applications, including highway pass systems (such as iPass, EZPass, etc.) and tracking of containers by the military.
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