RFID update from Tesco
John Garrett, RFID Architect at Tesco, updated us on Tesco's RFID activities. Tesco has installed RFID readers in 13 stores and 1 distribution center (DC) to date. ADT Tyco provide the readers (4,000 have been ordered) and OAT the middleware. They use the system for the internal tracking of their moveable assets (mainly pallets), of which they have 12 million. They intend to tag all of these in 2006. By the end of this year they will have fully deployed RFID on all shipments from one supplier (not yet named) although they are working on smaller projects with 16 suppliers today.
John commented on the initial performance they had seen. He said that the EU regulations had been very prohibitive, such as allowing readers to only be on for 6 seconds every minute, which, in their environment with massive throughput, is not adequate. The new European ETSI regulations may help tackle this, but John is not yet convinced. The regulation proposes that readers listen-before-talk (LBT), and if another reader is "talking" they do not transmit or they find another available channel. However, the level this has been set to (approximately -96dbn) means one reader could "hear" other readers about 2.5km away, according to John. Tesco may have hundreds of readers in a single distribution center - this is not good enough.
From his experience, John also cited that manufacturers claimed tag read speeds are typically a magnitude more than one typically achieves in actual implementation. John does not yet know how Gen 2 tags will perform. We anxiously wait.