Collaboration to apply RFID technologies in New Zealand

Monday, 09 July, 2007

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies can make a major contribution to New Zealand's economic development, according to Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the New Zealand RFID Pathfinder Group.

The two organisations have agreed to collaborate on RFID-related research, educational activities and operational trials. The organisations have entered a formal memorandum of understanding as the basis for joint initiatives that promote take-up of the new technologies using international standards.

The Pathfinder Group includes a number of New Zealand businesses and technology providers with support from GS1 New Zealand, the local arm of the international GS1 network for the development and use of global information standards in business.

"We believe RFID, when applied in the right way, really can help lift New Zealand's economic performance by cutting cost out of businesses and by making supply chains much more efficient and more responsive to market demands," said Alan Mayo, chairman of the Pathfinder Group.

"The technologies are in their infancy around the world and as a small trading nation with proven early-adopter capabilities, New Zealand could realise major benefits from moving forward with RFID at this stage."

Under the memorandum, staff and students in AUT's School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences will contribute to feasibility studies on the application of RFID in various sectors of the economy. They will also collaborate with members of the Pathfinder Group on technical research into RFID tags and readers, on RFID-related educational programs and on the development of standards for RFID, particularly standards under the Electronic Product Code (EPC).

"This is a great opportunity for our staff and students to be involved with the early-stage development of RFID technologies and their practical application in New Zealand," said Jim Buchan, a senior lecturer at the School.

Mayo said the Pathfinder Group is now talking with a number of industries about the prospects for a concerted, high-profile push into RFID.

"We're looking at establishment of two or three exemplars in how the technologies can be used for different purposes, in different industries. It makes sense to focus largely on the industries of greatest importance to New Zealand as a whole," Mayo said.

Mayo said efficiency gains in supply chain management are an obvious area of focus, but the exemplars could also include the use of RFID to track and trace physical assets in complex business operations.

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