HP Scanning Ahead

Hewlett--Packard, one of the EPCglobal subscribers that allowed its own data and experiences to be used in formulating the EPC Value Model, has already applied it to its business.

The initial analysis has been promising, according to Dayna Fried, RFID spokesperson for the company, based in Palo Alto, CA. HP is the largest consumer IT firm in the world.

"We have seen some results, and we're in the process of analyzing ROI," she reports. "We anticipate seeing ROI and anticipate that the tool will show us some very deep benefits."

That's not surprising since HP has plenty of experience with RFID, having implemented it in its supply chain. The company is using RFID in some form in 26 of its manufacturing and distribution sites around the world.

"At this point, we are RFID tagging about 50 different consumer SKUs that we're shipping to Wal--Mart and other retailers who are asking us to," says Fried. "Those items are tagged either at the packaging, case or pallet level. We don’t actually case a lot of our consumer products, like printers and scanners. We put our RFID tags directly on the outside packaging of those products, and then [palletize] them."

By the end of the year, HP will ship more than a million consumer products that are RFID tagged at either the pallet, case or packaging level.

HP affixes RFID tags on about 50 products for Wal--Mart. About 65 SKUs go Wal--Mart and another 40 to Sam's Club. The company began RFID tagging for Wal--Mart as part of a pilot program on April 29, 2004. Three of the products are photo printers and one is a scanner.

"Because we've been doing RFID for quite a while, we have seen a lot of benefits," says Fried. "The EPC Value Model is a way to see the value of RFID and see how it can benefit companies--not only a company like HP, that already has the expertise, but for other companies that are just beginning" to experiment with the technology.