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July 11th 2007 saw the launch of a new approach to way organisation looking for help with implementing RFID.
Printer vendor, Toshiba, announced in the City of London their approach to implementation. “Our work with existing clients using RIFD technology illustrated an important issue—quite simply customers didn’t have the technical knowledge of what was really needed to integrate RFID successfully into their existing business processes. It also became apparent that when customers worked with a variety of RFID providers there was a lack of cohesion which led to incompatibility and ultimately made the whole process expensive and time consuming” explained Rob McGregor, Business Development Manager, Toshiba TEC.
Toshiba has developed strong allegiances with companies working with RFID technology. McGragor stated “It’s hard to go to market with a single component, clients prefer complete solutions. So it made sense to us to bring together like-minded companies. RFID@TOSHIBA was developed not only to enable us to share technological advantages with each other but importantly to offer customers a portfolio of RFID products and services from what we call “best of breed” RFID vendor partnerships and channel partnerships”. Toshiba’s third-party relationships are carefully chosen based on product offerings, market expertise and open and flexible working processes. The partners include:
- Tag Manufacturers:
- UPM Raflatac
- Alien Technology
- Omron (specialist)
- QinetiQ (specialist)
- Reader Manufacturers:
- Alien Technology
- Tyco ADT
- Chip Manufacturers:
- Smart Label Manufacturer
- RFID System Design and Integration:
- Holloway Consulting [Disclaimer: Holloway Consulting is my own company]
RFID@TOSHIBA will offer a complete end-to-end RFID infrastructure solution providing customers with the main components of an RFID implementation from consultancy right through to after sales service:
- Consultancy—this covers from defining the solution through to identifying the correct technology and components to use, to understanding the business case to present to the board (involves the calculation of the ROI) and finally the delivery of a proof of concept.
- Project Management—this is a key component in a solution that is likely to involve change management, management of disparate resources and change control over multiple initiatives that form part of the whole.
- RFID Hardware—this cover the provision of printers and readers.
- RFID Software—this cover the selection and use of RFID middleware and egdeware. It also involves integration to ERP and BI solutions at the Enterprise level. The last component of this service looks at the selection and implementation of Edge Service Applications such as Asset management
- RFID Consumables—this involves the selection of the appropriate tags for the solution. The other unique is a bureau service. One of the tag solutions offered is Toshiba’s own SPRINT™ (Short Pitch Rfid eNcoding Technology) tags.
Toshiba are unique in the ability to print directly onto RFID Inlays. The normal process Inlays come from the manufacturer on a roll with an adhesive backing and an acetate coating. They are then sent to a converter who inserts the inlays into a paper label. With SPRiNT™ the costs are dramatically reduced as this process step is remover. They gave their latest cost to be 6p each. SPRiNT™ defines straight to tag printing/encoding for wet-web media with a form factor where there is a short pitch height between chips (approx 20mm minimum).
- Implementation Services—this covers Site surveys, Hardware installation & testing, Initial bulk tagging, Infrastructure (cabling/wireless networks), Software configuration, installation and testing, and Sign off
- After Sales Service—Toshiba provide call logging. Warranty issues, SLA’s, Call sign off, Engineer despatch, 3rd party liaison and Full call reporting.
This is a comprehensive set of the services required to implement an RFID solution. Toshiba allow organisations to pick and mix from the services and components in the RFID@Toshiba portfolio.
One of my concerns for the last 18 months has been to make vendors in the RFID to realise that they can’t do everything themselves. They need to work together. So to come across such a strong proposition based on partnership is a god-send. All the best to Toshiba who have chosen Europe and the UK to launch this proposition onto the market and with 30 prospects already talking to Toshiba, this looks a strong contender in the RFID marketplace.