IBM Debuts New RFID Services and Software for Supply Chain

Adds asset tracking, WebSphere upgrade to lineup; also opens new test center in Ireland

Adds asset tracking, WebSphere upgrade to lineup; also opens new test center in Ireland

Dallas — March 6, 2006 — IBM used the RFID World conference in Dallas last week to announce the addition of new radio frequency identification (RFID) services and software to its RFID portfolio, adding asset tracking and a WebSphere upgrade to its offerings.

The IBM RFID Solution for Asset Tracking was designed to aid companies in their critical resource tracking and security endeavors, and in their efforts to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. Its benefits range from tracking military equipment in the field to transporting hazardous materials, according to IBM.

Also announced an upgrade to the IBM WebSphere Premises Server for companies with heavy tagging traffic and high-value items. This high-performance software is intended to enable tagging items at manufacturing-line speeds. Version 1.1 gives customers remote deployment capabilities, a distributed architecture as well as central management.

According to Big Blue, customers running the new software in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) can more closely align RFID to business goals and objectives. In an SOA environment, information from RFID chips including inventory, shipping and billing can be instantaneously distributed across a customer's IT infrastructure as well as externally with partners or suppliers.

"With these new offerings IBM is taking important steps forward in RFID," said Eric Gabrielson, director of worldwide RFID solutions for IBM. "IBM is continuously building in RFID, both in the functionality of our software and services that take RFID in new directions."

RFID Capabilities for Asset Tracking

IBM RFID capabilities for asset tracking are based on a standard SOA-based software infrastructure. These capabilities can be used to track critical resources, such as in chemical plants, petroleum refineries, healthcare facilities, manufacturing plants, paper mills, coal mines and other high-security or complex environments. IBM said its new RFID asset-tracking capabilities can also be used to track mobile assets, including laptops and other IT and data center resources.

The company also said that its RFID capabilities for asset tracking were designed to accommodate both active and passive RFID networks and can be used to monitor the location and movement of critical operational resources, high-value capital equipment and even qualified personnel. Benefits of these capabilities include improving ability to comply with mandates and other governmental and regulatory requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, improve safety and security, improve operational efficiencies, streamline processes and reduce or prevent theft and/or loss of critical assets.

WebSphere RFID Premises Server

WebSphere RFID Premises Server V1.1, available immediately, was designed for deployment in warehouses, distribution centers or manufacturing plants with large amounts of traffic. The software builds on V1.0's capabilities in providing the ability to filter, aggregate, monitor and escalate RFID data to detect business events and to track the location of physical objects, with significantly higher throughput.

The new software is an extensible J2EE software platform that enables the automatic integration of RFID data from RFID devices into business processes, according to IBM. It ensures the reliable delivery of messages between devices and Premises Server, as well as between Premises Server and WebSphere business integration products.

WebSphere RFID Premises Server delivers starter kits for commonly needed tasks, including tag reading at the dock door. The software also supports Linux SuSE 8 and Windows 2003 Server, while providing integration with new RFID printers and readers. The updated version additionally provides material for capacity and performance planning.

Dublin Calling

Separately, IBM announced the opening of a 50,000-square foot RFID testing and pilot center in Dublin, Ireland. Dublin now complements a network of 10 RFID centers worldwide where companies can get hands-on experience with product tagging, supply chain integration, logistics management and asset tracking before going into production.

IBM said that its Dublin facility successfully completed its own asset tracking program fitting campus ThinkPads with RFID tags, enabling IBM to test its own RFID capabilities for asset tracking, including the use of WebSphere Premises Server V1.1.

This adds to the numerous internal IBM RFID implementations around the globe, including a supply chain management RFID system in place at IBM's semiconductor manufacturing plant in East Fishkill, N.Y.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Learn how a business process network ties in to the success of government mandate compliance and the 10 steps your company should take to accelerate business results in the exclusive article, "The Role of Trading Partner Integration in Achieving Compliance with Government Mandates."

— Visibility and product quality are key to maintaining a competitive edge in the market. So how can a company successfully achieve those objectives while also outsourcing its manufacturing? Read "Quality Management in Outsourced Manufacturing," an In Depth exclusive.