Item level tagging refers to the tagging of the smallest taggable unit of things. It is happening faster than most realize - 200 million tags will be used in 2006 for item level tagging alone - mainly apparel, books and drugs to name a few applications. From 2007 it will be the world's largest RFID market by value, rising to a value of $11 billion for tags and all systems of a $26 billion RFID market in 2016.
The anticipated sales of RFID tags in 2006 are shown in the table below - the highest volume market is not the highest by value.
|Drugs item level||20||Pfizer, GSK anticounterfeit ....|
|Library, laundry, apparel ||65||1-2 year payback: cost, service|
|Pallets/ cases||500 $0.09 billion||Big problems but will save cost/ improve service|
|Cards||285 $0.63 billion||China national ID: financial, security, transport|
|Tickets/ secure documents||65||Portugal, Japan: security, speed|
|Air baggage||85||Las Vegas, Hong Kong: cost, service, security|
|Livestock||50 $0.2 billion||New laws: safety, cost|
|Car clickers||46||Consumer demand|
|Passports||25||New laws: security|
|Other||159||Manufacture, health, vehicle etc|
The seventh annual RFID Smart Labels Europe event focuses on the progress to item level tagging, giving analysis of suitable technologies from global experts. RFID has already been demonstrated to increase sales of clothing by several percent when used to ensure shelves are not left empty. Marks & Spencer, for example, is rolling the technology out to 53 stores across the UK tagging men's and women's suits this year. Marks & Spencer is UK's largest clothing retailer and sell parts of suits separately, so people can choose the right sizes for each part. RFID helps the retailer ensure that when stock in one size is running low on the shelf, it can be monitored and replenished in good time to prevent lost sales.
The tagging of library books is by no means new - with 200million books around the world already tagged, but the market is growing strongly, with tens of millions of tags this year being used to tag books. For example, Essex County Council in the UK have been so pleased with their RFID pilot in one library that they are now rolling out RFID to every public library in the county. These companies will be covering details of this at RFID Smart Labels Europe in London on September 19-20. In addition, the world's first store with every item tagged - a BGN book store in the Netherlands, will be among the keynote speakers discussing why they did this and the paybacks of item level tagging.
Pfizer, the World's largest pharmaceutical company is tagging Viagra sold in North America and will keynote the healthcare session at the conference.
Interestingly, not all tags used for item level tagging today have to be the cheapest - the average tag price for item level applications in 2006 is 40 US cents - compared to 18 US cents for tags that are used to tag pallets and cases. For example, the aviation industry seeks robust, large memory tags for tagging parts and equipment. Rolls Royce and Lockheed Martin will discuss at the event.
However, this event also analyses the technology required for item level tagging. One major part of that are the new near field UHF tags - which are much more tolerant of fluids and metal compared to the far field UHF tags used to tag pallets and cases today. However, with blotchy radio regulations at UHF around the world HF is by far the most preferred frequency for item level tagging so far. Our panel of experts will discuss the merits of these technologies.
Longer term, the technology to achieve item level tagging will most likely not be chip based. To reach the critical low price points of the tag required for the item level tagging of the highest volume items - such as documents and most products, technologies such as printed thin film transistor circuits, printed electronics and Surface Acoustic Wave Devices are all suitors. RFID Smart Labels Europe features cutting edge developments in these technologies.