RFID Deployment Primer

Last month, RFID authority Patrick J. Sweeney described the primary benefits RFID can deliver for healthcare packaging applications. Here, Sweeney begins a multi-part series on RFID deployment.

The biggest factor spurring radio frequency identification (RFID) innovation has been the mandates decreed by Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and the U.S. Department of Defense. For the healthcare and life sciences industry, RFID represents a viable technology to solve problems that have existed for decades.

But don't go buying a bunch of tags and readers just yet. Before you start down the sometimes rocky path to RFID nirvana, take some time to learn from the mistakes others have made. Think of this multipart article as your map for finding the best path toward successful RFID. The first article will tell you how to define and measure the change created by RFID. Creating an integrated team and planning the work flow will be examined in the second article. Next will be a discussion of physics, before we examine pilot testing and the production phase. The right approach to RFID can earn you competitive advantage and boost your organization's operating efficiency. The wrong path could lead you to the front of the unemployment line.

Step 1: Defining the problem:
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. The first step in a successful RFID deployment is creating appropriate metrics to measure the change created by RFID. The good news is that the healthcare industry is more tightly regulated than most others. For most manufacturers and distributors, this means there are more metrics already in place for measuring everything from shrinkage to dwell time between manufacturer and retailer. When you define the problem and the metric, you have something you can build your business case around. Pfizer is a great example of this: the counterfeit Lipitor market cost the company $35 million—an RFID solution delivered for $5 million would be a home run. Keep in mind that while you are defining the problem it is equally important to understand everyone's perspective, not just yours!

Next month: Creating an RFID team and planning your RFID solution.

Patrick J. Sweeney II is president and CEO of Odin Technologies, an RFID infrastructure deployment and physics company. Recognized as an industry visionary, he is also the author of the book RFID for Dummies and is involved in standards bodies such as EPCglobal, AIM Global, and CompTIA.

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