SAP today announced new radio frequency identification (RFID) technology targeted at consumer goods companies that are racing to become RFID compliant in order to keep doing business with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The massive retailer is requiring that 120 of its top suppliers become RFID compliant next year, and industry analysts say SAP is ahead of its competitors when it comes to RFID technology offerings.
"SAP is making big investments in this space," said Jim Shepherd, a senior vice president at Boston-based AMR Research Inc. "I give them high marks for that." However, Shepherd cautioned that RFID technology is in its infancy, and that "no one should be saying they have a 'RFID solution' quite yet."
"SAP indicated that SAP consultants, or partners who are consultants, would work with customers to help them reap the benefits of RFID technology," Shepherd said. "It's clear this is in its beginning stages."
At the National Retail Federation (NRF) show, which opened in New York yesterday, SAP announced the launch of what it called the first packaged radio frequency identification (RFID) solution for supply chain management.
A key component of the package is new middleware software, which SAP has named for the general industry term, Auto-ID. SAP is basing its RFID integration on what it calls the Auto-ID Center.
The new packaged solution, developed to automate RFID-enabled business processes, can be integrated into existing IT environments through Auto-ID connectors for SAP R/3, version 4.6c or higher, and mySAP ERP systems.
"This is a specifically targeted package for customers seeking to become Wal-Mart compliant," said Ralph Schneider, SAP's business development director overseeing manufacturing solutions.
The new middleware, Schneider said, is designed to take customers one step beyond meeting Wal-Mart's new standards. Aside from tagging pallets and shipments, consumer goods providers will also be able to tap more information from their supply chains, exchanging data collected through RFID technology with data held in their ERP systems, Schneider said.
"This gives the user the ability to get value from their RFID investment," Schneider said. "There is not much value for the supplier in only becoming RFID compliant. This will help them build adaptive supply chains."
Pricing for the new package will depend on how many sites, such as warehouses, a company chooses for deployment of the package, Schneider said.
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Check out our Featured Topic on SAP's Zencke on RFID, NetWeaver and upgrades.
Check out our Featured Topic on SAP and RFID.