Wal-Mart Stores Inc. provided more details on its radio frequency identification (RFID) plans at a day-long conference for suppliers on Nov. 4 near its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. In addition to the retailer’s top 100 suppliers, 26 smaller suppliers have also committed to the January 2005 target for applying RFID tags to pallets and cases, and were also at the meeting, says Simon Langford, Wal-Mart manager for global RFID strategy. Wal-Mart also addressed technology vendors on Nov. 5.
Wal-Mart will initially accept any Electronic Product Code (EPC)-compliant tag in the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) range in either of two existing protocols, says Langford. Wal-Mart and other end-users are driving toward one, globally accepted EPC communication protocol.
The current lack of a single standard should not delay RFID deployment, says Langford. Wal-Mart recommends that suppliers purchase “agile” readers that can be upgraded through software when next generation tags are available.