As government and private industry ramp up efforts to strike a balance between security and profit, experts at Unisys Corporation predict that the infrastructure and standards needed to drive velocity in global logistics networks will begin to fall into place throughout 2005. According to Unisys, containers will begin to evolve into virtual warehouses that span oceans and continents. This evolution will emerge as track-and-trace technologies - such as RFID - merge with refined business processes and industry-wide standards and regulations designed to address supply chain efficiencies, global security and product counterfeiting.
The amount of data processed to safeguard global supply chains will grow in 2005, Unisys experts say, because of greater granularity in tracking goods - from manufacturer to container to store shelf. Managing and analyzing the increased data will require more powerful collection and faster decision-making - both of which pose new challenges for companies as they seek to secure their goods, improve their competitive positions and grow their profit margins simultaneously.
Unisys has more than a decade of auto-identification experience, including managing one of the world's largest RFID implementations for the U.S. Department of Defense and piloting technologies and processes for the global supply chains of Motorola, Inc., and two divisions of Sara Lee Corporation. The latter engagement is part of the Department of Homeland Security's Operation Safe Commerce (OSC). Unisys worked on four of OSC's 18 pilots - more than any other participating company.
Several other factors/trends will potentially come into play over the coming year:
- Counter-terrorism and other security initiatives and port modernization efforts will accelerate, as will the implementation of auto-identification solutions.
- Speed-to-value of supply chain/logistics process improvements will be top priority.
- Next-generation federal and state/local supply chain improvements will emerge.
- Secure, passive RFID will be ready for primetime.
- "Big buyer" compliance will expand; leading suppliers will achieve real business benefits.
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