September 1, 2006
Column | rfidwatch

IBM rolls out RFID systems

By John R. Johnson

RFID is red hot at Big Blue. In its third RFID-related announcement in less than a month, IBM in August unveiled its latest entry into the anticounterfeiting technology market: an RFID system for tracking and tracing pharmaceuticals.

The IBM RFID-based solution relies on blended RFID software and services to track the movement of drugs through the supply chain. Drug distributor Cardinal Health and manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline have already signed on to use the system, which supports both HF and UHF technology. (Cardinal Health has opted for the UHF version because of mandates from retailers.)

Just a week prior to the pharmaceutical announcement, IBM had announced that it was making its RFID software tools and training resources available at no cost in an effort to boost the number of workers with RFID skills. And in late July, the high-tech giant announced that along with its partner, T3Ci, it had successfully completed interoperability testing of a new RFID industry software standard. The standard is designed to enable retailers, manufacturers and organizations throughout the supply chain to overcome information overload and share information to improve business processes.

These developments are all part of a carefully orchestrated campaign to target the RFID marketplace. In the fall of 2004, IBM announced that it was embarking on a five-year initiative in which it would invest $250 million in RFID and other sensor-based technologies that fall under its RFID division, Sensor and Actuator Solutions. "The investment isn't just in RFID but also in sensors, PLCs and DCS [digital cellular system, an RF band used in Europe]," says John Del Pizzo, an RFID solutions executive with IBM. "RFID just happens to be the hot sector at the moment."

About the Author

John R. Johnson
John Johnson joined the DC Velocity team in March 2004. A veteran business journalist, John has over a dozen years of experience covering the supply chain field, including time as chief editor of Warehousing Management. In addition, he has covered the venture capital community and previously was a sports reporter covering professional and collegiate sports in the Boston area. John served as senior editor and chief editor of DC Velocity until April 2008.

More articles by John R. Johnson

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