Container-tracking Pilot Highlights the Benefits of RFID Standards in Port Management

Draft EPCglobal standard enables trading partners to communicate in common language on RFID-tagged objects moving through supply chain, ABI notes

New York — April 17, 2007 — A recent EPCglobal pilot project using active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags along with software from Oracle and Lockheed Martin's Savi Technology business has highlighted the importance of common standards in maximizing the benefits RFID can bring to port operations.

The pilot tagged seaborne shipping containers traveling between Hong Kong and Japan to provide real-time tracking information to EPC Information Services (EPCIS), a draft EPCglobal standard enabling trading partners to communicate in a common computer language on objects moving throughout the supply chain. (Read more about the pilot project here.)

"Container tracking can deliver supply chain management benefits — both cost reductions and revenue increases — that may add up to thousands of dollars per container," said Michael Liard, research director at technology consultancy ABI Research. "Smaller inventory, fast transportation and routing troubleshooting, lower insurance, greater efficiency and heightened security are all demonstrable advantages that RFID tracking can provide."

The benefits seem clear, but many vendors and end users believe that the prerequisites for greater RFID adoption in this sector are a common nomenclature for RFID data and a standard framework for the way in which that information is shared via open standards such as EPCIS.

"The EPCglobal pilot with Savi and Oracle represents a significant step towards the practical realization of a truly useful standard," noted Liard. "It is the first real-world demonstration among port operators of the potential created when multiple trading partners and service providers can 'speak the same language.'"

ABI Research's report "Cargo Container Security Tracking: RFID, Cellular, and Satellite Communications for Supply Chain Management and National Security" examines and evaluates evolving solutions and technologies for global electronic container security tracking, including RFID, GPS, cellular, satellite, ultra-wideband and optical character recognition, and identifies key market drivers.