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RFID and Sensing in the Supply Chain: Challenges and Opportunities

Pradhan, Salil; Lyon, Geoff; Robertson, Ian; Erickson, Len; Repellin, Lucien; Brignone, Cyr il; Mesarina, Malena; Serra, Bill; Deolalikar, Vinay; Connors, Tim; Jam, Mehrban; Recker, John; Goug uenheim, Christophe; Robinson, Ian; Sayers, Craig; Gualdi, Giovanni

HPL-2005-16

Keyword(s): supply chain; RFID; sensors; overlay network; services

Abstract: Radio Frequency identification (RFID) is a mature technology, but for reasons of cost and size, its use has been restricted to a closed set of applications. However cost reductio ns and efforts by EPC Global and industry giants, such as Wal-Mart, are causing the supply chain ind ustry to shift towards broad adoption of RFID technology, based on emerging open standards. This is creating a large business opportunity for HP. At present, the Electronic Product Code (EPC) framewor k is focused on inventory and distribution management. This paper describes a HP initiative to enhance the framework to provide safe, secure and adaptive supply chain solutions. Such solutions require knowledge of the 4Ws -Who, What, When and Where. RFID provides the Who (ID), and research activities within HP Laboratories are investigating an adaptive sensing infrastructure approach to providing the What, When and Where. An environment adhering to this approach can develop sentient capabilities; becoming responsive and conscious of its state, to ensure that goods are not only in specific locations, but also determine their actual conditions. Current market solutions are often based on reader infrastructure, where the intelligence is at the edge of the network. As the density of sensing (in space and time) increases, the information collected will potentially overwhelm the network. Our Sentient infrastructure pushes the intelligence to the end points -close to the readers and other sensors -where the information can be filtered and aggregated in situ, reducing the [shared] wireless network traffic. The components create a self-configuring system, resulting in lower deployment and testing costs. Due to the adaptive nature of the infrastructure, the environment is resilient to sensor failures and tolerant of malicious attacks.

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