IBM and T3Ci announced they have successfully completed interoperability testing of a new RFID industry software standard. The standard is designed to help better enable retailers, manufacturers and organizations throughout the supply chain to overcome information overload and share information to improve business processes.

This milestone marks the first step toward delivering interoperability based on the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) for exchange and query of RFID data. IBM and T3CI are the co-chairs of the EPCglobal EPCIS Working Group. The objective of the Working Group is to create common interfaces among RFID software, allowing organizations to exchange and leverage RFID data independent of the applications in which data is created or stored. For organizations throughout the supply chain, this will deliver greater value by allowing them to inexpensively capture large volumes of detailed data at each stage of the supply chain and share that data among trading partners.

While retailers today can provide manufacturers with large amounts of data about RFID-tagged products, until now there has been no simple and standardized way for manufacturers to sort through the volumes of raw data and perform queries to use it to improve product introductions, promotions and distribution of new products. The new EPCIS standards-based ability to query RFID data will provide organizations with near real-time RFID data from their trading partners, for the first time giving manufacturers access to the precise information they need.

Unilever North America, a global manufacturer of foods, home care and personal care products, also announced today its plans to pioneer use of the EPCIS standard to query RFID data provided by retailers. Unilever will conduct a trial using IBM's EPCIS implementation to collect and access information from within the company's manufacturing environment and from trading partners. By leveraging IBM and T3Ci reports and analysis, Unilever is looking to create additional business value in the areas of promotion management, supply chain visibility and metrics, as well as RFID readability.

"We are pleased to be on the forefront of pioneering use of this new RFID standard and emerging capability. This standard hits at the pressing need to allow more effective exchange of data among trading partners and simplifies interoperability among different RFID applications, data stores and product information management systems," said James Jackson, vice president IT, Unilever. "By replacing manually intensive data exchange tasks with automated processes, more time is available for analysis and value creation. As RFID begins to proliferate, EPCIS will serve as the foundation for manufacturers like Unilever to gain valuable insight, predict needs and problems before they occur, and improve our business operations and responsiveness to each of our partners within the supply chain."

"Trading partners and industry groups that choose to share RFID information via this new standard will see profound overall efficiency improvements and competitive advantage," said Dr. Jonathan Golovin, chief executive officer, T3Ci. "This year our solutions will process more than 100 million tag reads, and at the end of the year we expect the majority will be exchanged using the EPCIS standard."

IBM offers a wide array of technologies and services to help organizations leverage RFID to streamline the supply chain and improve business processes.

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