SOURCE: IBM

September 14, 2005 16:49 ET

IBM Builds Momentum for Open Standards-Based Radio Frequency Identification Ecosystem

Announces New Partnerships and Solutions to Help Customers Build On Demand Businesses

ATLANTA, GA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 14, 2005 -- EPCglobal US Conference -- Rallying the industry to support a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ecosystem based on open standards, IBM today announced new partnerships and standards-based solutions aimed at helping customers build on demand businesses.

The announcement continues IBM's push to help customers use RFID technologies to automate business processes to gain real-time visibility of items in a supply chain, efficiently manage assets, and improve customer service.

Underscoring the company's effort to accelerate industry adoption of RFID technologies, the new solutions are based on IBM WebSphere RFID middleware and services supported by a Service Oriented Architecture, SOA. The architecture offers a J2EE and J2ME based application environment that provide small, mid-sized and large businesses the flexibility to integrate information with custom third-party business process applications and free customers from relying upon any single information technology vendor.

As part of today's news, OATSystems is working together with IBM to market an integrated offering comprising OATSystems RFID applications and IBM's RFID Solution for the Consumer Driven Supply Chain. Additionally, TrueDemand Software and MARCGlobal will also offer applications running on IBM WebSphere middleware. IBM will also introduce an RFID for Work in Process solution for manufacturers and an RFID "Express" service for small and medium businesses. The company will open a new testing and compliance lab in Raleigh, North Carolina, and announce its new IBM Infoprint 6700 R40 complies with Gen 2 standards.

"Standardization has historically been the key driver in accelerating the mass adoption of emerging technologies like Radio Frequency Identification Technology," said Robert Mayberry, vice president, IBM Sensor and Actuator Solutions. "IBM's announcements today are designed to help customers in first-adopter industries take advantage of RFID software and services to create new opportunities for growth, cut costs, and become on demand businesses."

Today's announcements include the following new initiatives:

Business Partners To Offer Applications on IBM Middleware

OATSystems, Inc. is working together with IBM to market an integrated offering comprising OATSystems RFID applications and IBM's RFID Solution for the Consumer Driven Supply Chain. The offering provides retailers and their manufacturing partners the ability to mine real-time data in the supply chain, and help suppliers comply with RFID retail mandates.

MARC Global, a leading value-driven supply chain execution systems vendor, and IBM have completed the integration of IBM RFID Premises Server with MARC's RFID Enabler solutions. The combined solutions allow companies to integrate RFID technologies into existing supply chain execution systems. The solution also helps companies comply with EPC electronic pedigree and trading partner requirements and makes it easier to launch RFID pilot programs. IBM-enabled MARC RFID solutions are being implemented at several leading companies in the High Technology and Life Sciences industries. One of the world's largest providers of medical devices and diagnostic equipment, for instance, is deploying such a solution based on Alien ALR 9800 readers embedded with IBM WebSphere RFID Device Infrastructure.

TrueDemand Software, Inc., a developer of RFID-enabled supply chain applications is developing next generation EPC-enabled supply chain solutions on IBM's WebSphere middleware. The solution offers customers the opportunity to gain real time visibility of information about inventory in supply chains and improve customer service.

IBM Introduces New Work In Process and RFID "Express" Solutions:

IBM is also introducing the two new standards-based solutions -- one is to help manufacturers automate plant floor operations and the other is to help small businesses comply with retailer mandates.

RFID for Work in Process helps manufacturers accelerate materials management within a plant floor environment. The SOA-based solution can help a manufacturer better manage assembly automation, track plant floor assets, and manage inventory by integrating applications inside a company, as well as externally with customers and suppliers. It offers customers real-time visibility of key assets to improve the identification and tracking of tools and equipment and also to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and other mandates. The solution includes IBM's WebSphere RFID middleware, tags and readers from IBM Business Partners, as well as IBM's Global Services expertise implementing manufacturing and Work in Process solutions.

IBM currently takes advantage of an RFID for Work in Process solution to automate its semiconductor production process at the company's East Fishkill 300 mm semiconductor fabrication facility. The facility has integrated some 1,500 RFID readers with the plant's production tools to help it gain real-time visibility of the assembly line process, improve employee productivity, and reduce both product errors and production delays. Royal Philips Semiconductors recently completed deployment of a similar solution in Asia that takes advantage of IBM WebSphere RFID middleware to integrate legacy systems and plant operations.

Extending the benefit of RFID technologies to small businesses, IBM is unveiling an RFID "Express" service to help customers, suppliers, and retailers keep inventory and store shelves stocked at optimal levels. With this low-cost, hosted solution, growing businesses can take a "pay-as-you-grow" approach to realizing the benefits of RFID technology. Targeting clients who need to find a cost effective way to comply with retail and Department of Defense requirements to ship RFID-tagged merchandise, IBM's service will be offered through its extensive network of Business Partners. While individual businesses will handle printing and tagging on site, IBM will compute tag data and then transfer it to RFID network environments at remote locations at a customer site. Equipment located in the customer's facility will be monitored by an IBM operations center that provides Help Desk support, error resolution support, and maintenance dispatching.

IBM To Open New RFID Testing and Compliance Lab:

To help clients understand and take advantage of emerging wireless technologies, IBM will open The Wireless Center of Excellence on the IBM campus in Research Triangle Park, NC in October. With an initial focus on RFID, the 5000 square-foot facility will offer clients the opportunity to test-run RFID solutions and analyze read-rates so they can make informed decisions as they plan to invest in RFID technologies and a supporting infrastructure. Its initial focus will be on helping clients test RFID solutions to determine how to most effectively comply with mandates. The testing facility will simulate an RFID-enabled distribution center consisting of a software test lab, high-speed loop conveyor system, a pallet wrapping station, fork lifts, and dock doors.

IBM Infoprint Printer Supports Class 1 Gen 2 Specification:

IBM also announced today that the IBM Infoprint 6700 R40 now interoperates with RFID tags and other equipment to comply with the Class 1 Gen 2 specification, a single worldwide standard that will eventually succeed several specifications that are in the marketplace today. Introduced in June, the Infoprint 6700 R40 can print both traditional bar codes and RFID-verified tags. The scalable solution can be used in current supply chain infrastructures and then be upgraded to RFID technology when needed.

Today's offerings are aimed at helping customers in first-adopter industries implement RFID solutions. Some of IBM's early RFID customer engagements worldwide include METRO Group in Germany, Royal Philips Semiconductor in Asia, Kureha Waste Management in Japan, and the United States Department of Defense.

About IBM:

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key business partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable companies to take full advantage of the on demand era. For more information about IBM, visit http://www.ibm.com

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