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    GMA Reveals New RFID Proposals

    WASHINGTON -- During its Information Systems/Logistics Distribution Conference in Tucson, Ariz., the Grocery Manufacturers Association, based here, yesterday unveiled its new proposals to speed adoption rates of the Electronic Product Code and radio frequency identification (EPC/RFID)

    WASHINGTON -- During its Information Systems/Logistics Distribution Conference in Tucson, Ariz., the Grocery Manufacturers Association, based here, yesterday unveiled its new proposals to speed adoption rates of the Electronic Product Code and radio frequency identification (EPC/RFID)

    In partnership with IBM Business Consulting Services, GMA polled CPG companies about their current and planned use of EPC/RFID technologies. According to the survey results, which have been published in GMA's "EPC/RFID: Proposed Industry Adoption Framework," manufacturers believe in the long-term benefits of EPC/RFID, among them improving promotion compliance, proof of delivery, and out-of-stock rates, but many still find that actually implementing such technology can be difficult.

    "In the competitive CPG industry, companies are investing in resources and technologies that improve their performance and cut costs," noted Pam Stegeman GMA v.p., supply chain and technology. "Our survey found that many manufacturers recognize that EPC/RFID is just one of the tools that they can use to meet both of those goals. However, EPC/RFID is not a one-size-fits-all technology, and manufacturers continue to face challenges in implementing it, because of ongoing technology, data, and business process challenges."

    To overcome those problems, the report recommends a framework for manufacturers to use as they figure out the best ways to prioritize EPC/RFID deployment with retailers and technology suppliers. The framework consists of three levels:

    --EPC Advantaged: Products or scenarios, including promotional events, with high-benefit potential and few issues with tag read rates, which provide a logical starting point for pilot programs.

    --EPC Testable: Products or scenarios where business benefits are less apparent and/or some deployment challenges exist. These products or scenarios should be the focus of readability and tagging tests, with the goal of moving them into the EPC Advantaged category.

    --EPC Challenged: Products that don't have foreseeable benefit potential in the near future and present considerable deployment challenges. This category requires focused testing and, potentially, additional research and development.

    "The goal of this framework is to help companies and the industry begin productive discussions on identifying challenges with this technology and using learnings from pilot programs or additional research to overcome them -- all with the goal of eventually moving EPC Testable and Challenged products into the EPC Advantaged tier," said Stegeman.

    The report also notes specific steps manufacturers and other industry figures can take to increase EPC/RFID use, including accelerating overall industry progress, defining a strategy to prioritize and manage EPC/RFID activity, developing company, trading partner, and industrywide pilot and deployment plans, and establishing contacts with technology and research communities to address ongoing challenges.

    For a downloadable copy of the report, go to http://www.gmabrands.com.

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