Sloan Information Period (SIP) RF.450
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Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Sloan Information Period (SIP) RF.450Information Infrastructure Needed for Effective Utilization of RFID AutoID technologies

Part 1 – RFID Technology & Application Areas

Subject RF.450 @ E51-145 on Monday , Oct 24, 2005 at 2:30-5:30 PMAbstract:        This is an exploratory research SIP activity.  A high degree of interaction and student participation and discussion is expected.       In order to maximize the effective use of RFID, existing intra- and inter-organizational business processes must be re-thought and re-structured, and an appropriate Information Technology (IT) infrastructure must be established both across organizations and between organizations.Prof Stuart Madnick, <[email protected]>, Room: E53-321, Ext: 3-6671.

[Revised 10-23-2005. Latest version in]

General outline

General Outline

In this SIP activity we will discuss:

  • What is the RFID technology?

  • What are the possible/claimed benefits of RFID?

  • What are existing or likely information infrastructure deficiencies,

    - Especially in the areas of information exchange and data standards?

  • What are some IT research directions to address these problems?

Advertisement: If you like this material, consider these courses for Spring 2006:



(Tues & Thurs, 10-11:30; E51-376 – Primarily for Sloan MBA’s)



(Tues & Thurs, 10-11:30, E51-376 – Similar, but more technical)

Some rfid hype

Some RFID Hype

RFID AutoID technology has received considerable media attention, innovation ideas, and controversy.  For example:

"Study shows RFID benefits for retailers. Retailers can expect extensive inventory and labor cost savings from the adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, but some consumer product manufacturers will face higher costs and delayed benefits from adopting the technology. That is the conclusion of a new report on RFID and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) from global management consulting firm AT Kearney."( from )

"Dvorak Slams RFID. It's bad news, claims John Dvorak. Those tiny radio transmitters that promise convenience and flexibility are just another path toward big brother domination. And it's going to get a lot worse. ( from )

"A Manufacturer of soft drinks can identify with the click of a button how many containers of its soda cans are likely to reach their expiration date in the next few days and where they are located at various grocery outlets.( from CACM, August 2005, p. 103 )

What have you heard unusual or intriguing applications

What have you heard?Unusual or Intriguing Applications?

  • Bank of Nagoya installing RFID-based document management system

  • Automatically scan you when you entered classroom – so no need to sign “sign-in” sheet

The hype cycle

The HypeCycle

Peak of

Inflated Expectations

RFID Today! (?)


Plateau of


Slope of


Trough of


Technology Trigger


Source: Jackie Fenn, Gartner Group

Some sources used for background materials found with assistance of h zhu

Some Sources Used for Background Materials (found with assistance of H. Zhu)









  • slides)



Background (2:35-3:55)

  • Introduction

  • RFID Technology

    • Comparison with Bar Codes

    • Example Applications

  • Focus on Supply Chain

    • EPC Tag and EPC Global

  • ROI Issues & Challenges

  • MIT Auto-ID Center

    Some of Sloan’s Research issues (4:05-5:25)

  • RFID IT Infrastructure

  • Challenges to “Data Synchronization”

  • Role of MIT’s Context Mediation Technology in addressing the “Data Synchronization” challenge

  • Discussion

What is r adio f requency id entification rfid


Die attach

Tag IC


What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?

  • Can be Passive or Active

  • Can be Read-only or Read-Write

Some claimed advantages of rfid vs barcode

Some Claimed Advantages of RFID vs. Barcode

  • No requirement for line-of-sight

  • Many tags can be read at the same time

  • High memory capacity if needed

  • Dynamic information carrier (read/write)

  • Robust and reliable

  • Performs in rugged, harsh environment

  • Cheaper in long term

  • No human intervention

  • Reader virtually maintenance free

Part 1 rfid technology application areas


RFID Technology Primer

Adapted from

Dan Kimball, DoD Logistics AIT Office

April 7, 2004

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Pre-50’s 1950’s 1960’s 1970’s 1980’s 1990’s 2000’s

  • Over 350 direct - reference patents

  • 1926: Baird’s

    radio object



  • 1935: Watson-

    Watt’s radar


  • WW II: Radar

  • refined

  • 1973: Cardullo


  • Harrington

  • “Active &

  • Loaded

  • Scatterers”

  • 1952: Vernon

  • “Application of the Microwave

  • Homodyne”

  • MIT Auto-ID

    Center formation

  • 1975 LASL

  • releases

  • research to

  • public sector

  • EPC™ introduced

  • National & international

    standards emerge

  • 1966: Sensor-

  • matic & Check-

  • point EAS

  • LASL spins-off

  • IDX & Amtech

  • Smart shelves

  • 1991: AAR

  • standard

  • 1984: IDX/Allen

  • Bradley install

  • GM System

  • 2003: RFID

    prominent in

    Iraqi Freedom

  • Fairchild, RCA

  • & Raytheon

  • initiate pgms

  • Harris patent: “Radio

  • transmission

  • systems with

  • modulatable

  • passive

  • responder”

  • EPCglobal

    formed 2003

  • 1994: All

  • US railcars

  • outfitted

  • 1977: Electronic

  • license plate for

  • motor vehicles

  • Multiple early

  • adopter

  • installations

  • 2004: TREAD

  • 1948: Harry

  • Stockman -

  • Communications

  • By Means of

  • Reflected Power

  • 1997:US Army

  • rolls out TC-


  • 2005: Walmart

    initial deadline

  • 1969: Mario

    Cardullo RFID


  • Vast number of companies enter RFID marketplace

  • 1979: RFID


  • implants


  • 1st Toll Collection

    System - Norway

  • Texas, Georgia /

    Oklahoma Tolls

  • Wide-scale US


Adapted from Interaction Design Institute RFID Project Presentation - 2002

RFID: The History

Technical aspects of rfid

Technical Aspects of RFID

Standards? The RFID industry suffered from a proliferation of standards, according to Sue Hutchinson, director of product management for EPCglobal. EPCglobal had two GEN-1 standards, while ISO had two UHF air interface standards. (December 17, 2004)

  • Tag Power Source

  • Tag Components

  • Read - Read/Write

  • Anti-Collision

  • Who talks first?

  • Protocol

Ultimate focus of this SIP activity

Rfid tags come in different forms can be attached to almost anything

Class V tags

Readers. Can power other Class I, II and III tags; Communicate with Classes IV and V.

Class III tags:semi-passive RFID tags

Class 0/Class I:read-only passive tags

Class IV tags:

Active tags withbroad-band peer-to-peer communication

Class II tags: passive tags with additional functionality

RFID Tags Come in Different Forms – Can be attached to almost anything

  • Tags can be attached to almost anything:

    • pallets or cases of product

    • vehicles

    • company assets or personnel

    • items such as apparel, luggage

    • people, livestock, pets

    • high value electronics e.g., computers, TVs

  • Many applications

Primary focus

Tag types active



RF & Digital Circuitry

Tag Types: Active

  • Active:

    • Standard: None, Mainly Manufacturers Proprietary Systems/Protocols

    • Range: Generally 300 Feet or less

    • Battery powered / limited life

    • Used Predominantly in Transportation Systems (rail, toll systems, trucking, container).

    • Characteristics: Tag with Internal Power Cell Mounted to Item or container/pallet/box, Interrogator Queries Tags, Uploads/Downloads Data. Does not transmit all of the time. Data Capacity Varies.

Tag types passive

Digital Logic & Control

Tag Types: Passive


  • Passive:

    • Standard: None/many, Mainly Manufacturers Proprietary Systems/Protocols (uses back scatter technology)

    • Range: Typically Measured in “Inches”, Working Toward “Meters” (dependant system layout, interference, etc.)

    • Used Predominantly in Retail Systems and Transportation Systems.

    • Characteristics: Small Tag Loaded with License Plate Data

    • Typically Mounted to End Item, Reader Captures Data as Item Moves Through Choke Point (door, pathway, frame, etc.).

    • Data Capacity Limited.

RF antenna

(power source)

Tag types semi active





Digital Logic & Control

Tag Types: Semi-Active

  • Semi-Active or Battery Assisted Passive

    • On-board battery power source

      • Uses Passive Technology (no transmitter)

      • Greater range but higher cost (less than active)

      • Requires less power from reader

      • Finite life

      • Can use thin batteries (little change to form factor)

Tag types read vs read write

Tag Types - Read vs Read/Write

  • Read Only:

    • Information can only be read from an RFID device – programmed at manufacture

  • User Programmable

    • WORM - Write Once Read Many - Ability to initialize an RFID device outside of the RFID manufacturer’s facility after manufacture

  • Read/Write:

    • Information can be read from or written to an RFID transponder during the time it is presented to a reader/writer

    • Typically asymmetric read and write operating range

Technical considerations


Ability to communicate with several transponders simultaneously

Important in longer range readers

Must be implemented in the silicon of the RFID device

Who Talks First

Tag Talks First (TTF)

After the tag is energized, it sends out a signal that says “I am here”

Reader Talks First (RTF)

As reader sends out energization signal it says “who is there”


With TTF you can get tag pollution but slower total read time

Compatibility issues?

Technical Considerations



  • The method used to talk to a tag

    • Modulation method

    • Error correction

    • Anti-collision technique

    • Message format

    • Commands

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

RFID Operating Frequencies

Low Frequency (125 – 134 kHz)

Used in Access control, livestock, race timing, pallet tracking, automotive immobilizers, wireless commerce

High Frequency (13.56 mHz) – Smart Labels

Used in supply chain, wireless commerce, ticketing, product authentication

Ultra-High Frequency – UHF (900+ mHz)

Emerging technology, applications still in development

Microwave (2.45 gHz)

Still highly experimental, chipless technology

Worldwide regulatory environment

Worldwide Regulatory Environment

No Global Solution – Standards are a Challenge

Frequency selection issues

Desired Pattern

Required Range

Tag-to-Tag Spacing

Data Rate

Size Requirements

Power Requirements

Interference Issues

Noise Environment

Cost / Performance Tradeoffs

Frequency Selection Issues

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

RFID System Considerations

  • Read distance requirements

    • Long read range

    • Short read range

  • Frequency

    • All frequencies have their pros and cons

  • ISO standards

    • Proprietary or standards-based

  • Government regulations

    • Varies from country to country

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

RFID System Considerations

  • Multiple Tag Reading in Same Field

    • Anti-collision

  • Sensitivity to Orientation

    • A single orientation or omni-directional

  • Hardware Set-up

    • Environment can affect performance

    • Tag Sensitivity to Metallic environments

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Reader Characteristics

  • Stationary or handheld

  • Weather-proof or industrialized

  • Typical read ranges vary from a few centimeters to a few meters

  • Read Range is dependent upon:

    • Broadcast signal strength

    • Size of broadcast antenna

    • Size of transponder antenna

    • The environment – Metallic, Liquid

  • Multi-frequency readers

How compare to 2d barcodes

How compare to 2D barcodes

Barcode examples many types

Barcode Examples – Many types




PDF 417

Code 49

QR Code

Data Matrix

Current technology bar coding

Current Technology: Bar-coding

UPC A code

18 digit alphanumeric code used for identifying flow of package and billing information

Large database used to support this system – 18 terabytes


Determined by the locations of bars around a central dot

Contains information for the destination address of the package as well as weight and size specs.

requires special equipment and a stable environment free from movement to obtain a read of the information

Rfid vs bar coding

RFID vs. Bar-coding

  • Bar-coding Disadvantages

    • Code must be clearly readable

      • free from dirt, smudging or other damage

      • This is problem with the constant movement of packages

    • Code must be in a position that can be easily read by a scanning device

      • Optical lasers are usually used for scanning

    • Code must be within a short distance to be read

      • Typically within 3 feet

    • Only one code can be scanned at a time

    • Codes must be a reasonable distance apart

  • The use of RFID can eliminate many of the problems associated with bar-coding technology.

The future a hybrid world

The Future? -- A Hybrid World

  • Traditional bar codes

    • Will remain the dominant auto ID technology for the foreseeable future

      • Lowest cost, broadest applicability, huge infrastructure investment

  • 2D bar codes

    • Will be increasingly adopted for value added applications

      • Portable data files, supplementary retail coding etc.

  • RFID

    • Will be increasingly adopted where non-line of sight, read/write, multiple detection offers real advantages

Implementations of rfid

Implementations of RFID

  • Retail is the current driving force

    • Wal-Mart

    • Target

  • Others

    • Department of Defense

    • UPS

    • Other logistics firms

Things to consider

Things to consider

  • Price of tags

    • Currently about 10 to 50 cents each

    • If just $0.01, $250,000,000 to tag every P&G product

    • Chicken and Egg

  • Uses

    • Wal-Mart will be collecting existing data

    • Many possibilities

  • Technology matures

    • Cheaper and standards

  • Privacy (e.g., “RFID chips in world soccer tournament tickets questioned”)

    • All 2.9 million tickets for FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Germany include an RFID smart tag

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Pay for Gas at Exxon/Mobil with Speedpass

Buy Burgers at McDonald’s

Race timing at most major Marathons

Check out library books with 3M system

Get a Coke from a vending machine at the Olympics

RFID in Action …

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Toll tags, parking lot access

Building access control, security

Event access, ticketing

Anti-theft for automobiles

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Product authentication

Chip wafer Manufacturing

Warehouse, supply chain, logistics

Livestock, asset tracking

Electronic article surveillance eas

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)

  • Already exists

  • RFID technology detects if an item is removed from a store without tag being deactivated

    • Amorphous magnetic strips

    • Destructible tuned circuits

  • But - Existing technology cannot uniquely identify goods

  • New RFID technology provides significant features:

    • Able to write SKU number into transponder

    • Automatic inventory with a hand held reader

      • Anti-collision mandatory for this feature

    • Cash registers can automatically ring up merchandise

Part 1 rfid technology application areas


RFID – Supply Chain Perspective

Adapted from im jae hyoun

"A Manufacturer of soft drinks can identify with the click of a button how many containers of its soda cans are likely to reach their expiration date in the next few days and where they are located at various grocery outlets.”

( from CACM, August 2005, p. 103 )

  • How easy / realistic is this?

  • What infrastructure must exist?

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Adding Identity to Products


Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Adding Identity to Cases:

Assembly line


Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Reading Tags:

Portal applications:

Shipping validation &

Confirm routing

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

  • how it works…

  • Savant

  • (middleware software for

  • EPC)

  • ONS

  • (Object

  • Naming

  • Service)

  • PML

  • (Physical

  • Markup

  • Language)

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Efficiency in Distribution

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Efficiency in Inventory

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Overstocking and

Out of Stock Eliminated

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

how it works…

Consumer Convenience

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Some Serious Challenges & limitations… materials and effect on signal

Supply chain reality

Supply Chain Reality

It is happening …

Rfid in the supply chain







Flow of Goods

RFID in the Supply Chain

SC Visibility & Event Management

SC Leader ERP

EPC Data Management Infrastructure(Private/public)

Who controls?

Understanding rfid s potential

Repair Center


VMI/Inbound Hub



Outbound Hub

Reseller/ Distributor

Understanding RFID’s Potential

Sample Supply Chain

Returns Hub

Warranty/Services Revenue



Revenue Collection

Out of Stock

Brand Protection



BOM Tracking

Lot Tracking

Operating and Handling Cost

Shipment Visibility

Comp. Inv. Visib.

FGI Inv. Visib.

Planning & Synchronization

Making a case for rfid roi

Making a Case for RFID - ROI


Adapted from

Greg Dixon

Chief Technology Officer


Why do people buy rfid

Why do people buy RFID?

  • Traditional Reasons:

    • Reduction of direct labor (80%)

      • Hand-held reader vs. Fixed reader

    • Protection and tracking of assets

      • Animals – Inventory – Tires – Access Control - etc.

    • Cost Structure reduction

      • Out of stock - 7.8% – “walk aways”

    • Only technology that will work

      • When bar codes don’t work

        • (dirty / line of sight)

  • New Reason:

    • Mandated

Rfid timeline goals

RFID Timeline (goals)

RFID Invented

First UPC bar code

Livestock RFID


ISO RFID Standards

EPCGlobal started @ MIT

Wal*Mart and DoD announce RFID plans

Wal*Mart implements 8 suppliers / 21 products

Wal*Mart pilots begin

EPCGlobal establishes Gen 2 specs

Wal*Mart deadline to top 134

Wal*Mart 6 DCs and 250 stores

Wal*Mart 13 DCs and 600 stores

All Wal*Mart and DoD suppliers

RFID pervasive

in supply chain

Item class


48 - 74 - 79 - 84 - 95 - 99 - 03- 1/04- 4/04- 7/04- 1/05- 6/05- 10/05- 07 - 09 - 13


Technology adoption life cycle


Wal*Mart / DoD Sunrise date



Companies under RFID mandate




Technology Adoption Life Cycle




Two primary concerns for supply chain users

Concern #1: Return on Investment - ROI











More Accurate

Where is the


What are



What do



Reduction in costs >RFID technology investment = +ROI

Two primary concerns for Supply Chain users:

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

  • Full Corp. Adoption

  • - with data integration


cost reduction

Steps to ROI

  • Limited Mfg Adoption

  • - with data integration

Reduces more

real costs

  • Limited Mfg Adoption

  • - no data integration

Reduces some

real costs

Invested $$ increases

Potential ROI increases

  • Tag and Ship

  • - with data integration

Link to trading partners

  • Tag and Ship

  • - no data integration

“Slap & Ship” = pure cost

May be the majority

  • Concern #1: ROI – Easier said than done

  • Note importance of data integration (addressed in part 2)

  • Challenging within a large company

  • Very challenging between/among multiple companies

Two primary concerns for supply chain users1

Concern #2: Partnerships

Let’s do the math

One of the largest RFID S.I. (“handle maybe 100”)

<100 RFID Vendors & S.I.s * - 100 x 50 = 5,000

Must mobilize >1000 new RFID Solution Providers

just to meet the demand for partnerships

Two primary concerns for Supply Chain users:




* RFID Journal

Winners losers

Winners & Losers ?

  • AT Kearney study

  • Retailers benefits

    • Reduce inventory by 5%

    • Reduce store & warehouse expenses by 7.5%

    • Reduce “out of stock” $700,000 per $1B

  • Manufacturers costs

    • High impact (expensive) v. low impact (cheap)

    • Low impact: $155M in capital costs

      (assuming $.15/tag, 10 year horizon, 12% cost of capital

What about closed loop enterprise applications

What about “closed loop” & Enterprise applications?

  • RFID technologies have been available for a decade

  • For many applications the tag cost was too high

  • Supply Chain volume reduce tag costs

  • All those applications are still waiting for an RFID solution

Part 1 rfid technology application areas

Read Failure









Bar code






Enterprise Level Applications




the “Edge”

of an enterprise


Edge Server

Edge Server



Background (2:35-3:55)

  • Introduction

  • RFID Technology

    • Comparison with Bar Codes

    • Example Applications

  • Focus on Supply Chain

    • EPC Tag and EPC Global

  • ROI Issues & Challenges

  • MIT Auto-ID Center

    Some of Sloan’s Research issues (4:05-5:25)

  • RFID IT Infrastructure

  • Challenges to “Data Synchronization”

  • Role of MIT’s Context Mediation Technology in addressing the “Data Synchronization” challenge

  • Discussion

  • Login