The use of 'smart' tag technology to keep track of goods (including food) through the supply chain to consumers will soon become a reality if a trial being carried out at Tesco, one of the UK's largest supermarket chain stores, is successful.
The test, which is being conducted in partnership with the international cosmetic company, Gillette, will use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips incorporated in tiny tags attached to packets of razor blades. About 500 million smart tags will be used in the trial.
As the products move through the system, staff will be able to check stock levels, sell-by dates and whether an item has been sold. If the three-month trial is successful, the tags could be a feature on a wider range of Tesco products
The technology also has the potential to improve retail shops administration and specifically help to foil shoplifters. Scanners can remotely trigger an alarm if someone attempts to leave the shop with an unpaid item.
The Auto-ID Centre, comprising IT experts from the Institute of Manufacturing of Cambridge University in the UK and the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is working on an electronic product code (EPC) standard for smart tags.
If accepted, the EPC will act as the unique identifier for an RFID unit, allowing automatic identification and providing a means for identifying and monitoring goods.
For more information contact Tesco, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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