HP Hawks RFID at SAP Confab

Susan Hall

Updated · May 12, 2004

HP is lining up to help suppliers keep track of everything from firelogs to toy fire trucks using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The systems and printer vendor is just the latest major tech play to shine a spotlight on its RFID products.

The company featured new RFID applications, services and customers at SAPPHIRE, SAP's user conference, held in New Orleans this week.

Hasbro named HP a strategic RFID technology provider, the company said, following the completion of several successful pilots. HP also is working with Conros, a maker of firelogs, matches, citronella candles and fire-starters. Conros must meet Wal-Mart's RFID mandate to its suppliers by the January 2005 deadline. Meantime, HP has partnered with software vendor Shipcom Wireless and tag and reader manufacturer Matrics to let Conros track pallets and cases from manufacturing plant to warehouse to Wal-Mart distribution center.

HP also has launched an RFID test center at its Palo Alto, Calif.
headquarters, with another one planned for Taiwan. The company announced it has joined EPCglobal, an international RFID standards board

“HP regards RFID as a key technology that will help retailers,
manufacturers and other users reduce supply chain costs while speeding the flow of merchandise from the factory, through the distribution center and to the retail store, ultimately providing customers with better product availability,” Jim Milton, senior vice president, Customer Solutions Group, and managing director, HP Americas, said in a statement.

Taking its own medicine, the company said it has implemented RFID within its own supply chain. HP's RFID offering includes the RFID Discovery Service to help customers “build their vision;” RFID Adaptive Starter Kit for customers that want a
proof of concept; and RFID Readiness Assessment and Roadmap Planning for
customers ready to get going.

RFID test centers, working facilities where prospective customers can get their feet wet and their hands dirty, are popping up like mold on bread on a humid day. Earlier this month, Sun
Microsystems opened its first test
in Dallas, Tex. IBM, Microsoft, Royal Phillips Electronics and Oracle have announced major initiatives this year.

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