Pacific Cycle Turns RFID Obstacles into Opportunities

Wal-Mart mandate seen as "just the start" of tangible benefits from implementation

Wal-Mart mandate seen as "just the start" of tangible benefits from implementation

Vernon Hills, IL — November 14, 2005 — Pacific Cycle, the largest bicycle supplier in North America, recently completed a full-scale radio frequency identification (RFID) project using RFID printer/encoders from Zebra Technologies, which was a participant from the initial pilot through the multiple-location implementation.

Ed Matthews, Pacific Cycle's director of information systems, co-presented a Web seminar recently on the implementation with Matt Ream, Zebra's senior manager, RFID systems, along with Zebra's key RFID partners, SAP and Peak Technologies.

Matthews shared how Pacific Cycle's RFID implementation was important not only to comply with retail giant Wal-Mart's RFID supplier mandate but also for overall business improvement. In addition, he discussed how Pacific Cycle used SAP RFID technology internally to better understand and manage its own demand and fulfillment streams.

Matthews said the Wal-Mart mandate was just the start of more tangible opportunities for Pacific Cycle, which included gaining real-time supply chain visibility by capturing and integrating smart label information into its SAP enterprise-wide system. That integration allowed the bicycle supplier to automate warehouse operations so that inventory movements could generate and record transactions without human intervention, leading to a dynamic rebalancing of inventory flows.

Zebra's Ream addressed a number of questions from the broadcast audience, including specifics about how much change is required, vis-à-vis printing, when one moves from bar code labels to RFID smart labels. Ream said: "For existing Zebra bar code printer users, the [application programming interfaces (APIs)] are virtually the same. RFID printer/encoders were designed for easy migration with little process change, and smart label printing/encoding is supported by a wide range of label design."

Ream add that enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management system (WMS) and middleware software packages and RFID labels are available in form factors identical to traditional bar code labels.

Ream predicted a number of advances in integrated RFID-enabled printing technology that companies are likely to see in the near future, including decreased tag programming time, increased throughput, high speed print/encode/apply utilization and higher yield rates in smart media.

Additional Articles of Interest

— RFID technology has the potential to change the way supply chains are managed, but in order to be effective businesses need to take a holistic look at the deployment. Read more in the article "Time for RFID: Applying RFID in the Supply Chain."

— For a contrary view of the future of the RFID market, see the article "The O'RFID Factor: A 'No Spin' Look at Where Radio Frequency Identification Is Headed," in the October/November 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— For more information on trends relating to radio frequency identification (RFID), follow this link for an extensive listing of articles, featuring the latest research findings on the RFID, including adoption, return on investment and barriers to implementation.

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