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Joint effort to standardise RFID hardware

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SAP and Intel have announced a joint effort that aims to make radio frequency identification (RFID) technology easier to use and help companies overcome the common hurdles they face in creating viable business cases for RFID implementations.

The joint effort will offer customers the choice of either integrating their RFID hardware directly into backend systems and business processes or using device management partners to manage their hardware environment.

Direct integration provides a streamlined approach to the customer’s RFID implementation and is best utilised in less complex business environments.

The device management partner approach enables the customer to manage a more complex environment comprising multiple device types from different vendors.

The announcement was made at CeBIT, the world’s largest IT trade fair, being held at Hanover, Germany, March 10 – 16.

The collaboration introduces a new RFID concept, enabling companies to integrate RFID data directly into backend systems. Companies can implement the solution on any Intel-based RFID backend hardware such as servers and front-end hardware such as desktops, notebooks and RFID readers—regardless of provider.

This solution will likely result in faster adoption of RFID devices, creating a plug and play environment. Intel will also supply the necessary technology to allow for a device management solution to be delivered through the SAP NetWeaver platform.

Companies implementing RFID technology today face hurdles such as the expense of the solution, complex integration of proprietary and non-proprietary technology, emerging standards as well as complex systems architecture, which results from a wide range of hardware providers.

The new approach from SAP and Intel will help companies to meet these challenges. It will provide companies with the capability to directly instruct the RFID reader from the business application, for example, warehouse management.

This capability will help decrease costs, increase process speed and reduce the need for services on hardware maintenance and support. The collaboration will also enable companies to combine non-intelligent with intelligent data capture devices for a total RFID solution, regardless of hardware or vendor.

In a non-intelligent data capture device, viability of data is analysed at the software level. In an intelligent data capture device this capability is contained within the hardware.

The concept is based on providing more intelligence as part of the reader hardware as well as seamless integration into any system infrastructure, such as SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure.

The additional intelligence on the reader hardware will also allow companies to control hardware combinations, such as an arrangement of sensors and actors together with RFID reader hardware.

Existing ecosystem partners of Intel and SAP will play a major role in bringing this concept to the market. For example, it will complement existing device management partnerships that SAP has with other vendors.

The new approach between Intel and SAP focuses primarily on the direct data exchange between reader hardware and business applications. Intel will provide enough intelligence on its readers to be able to directly feed SAP with the read results.

It does not eliminate the need of administrating, monitoring and managing all the different RFID devices, which is the main focus of existing device management collaborations and which also requires a tight integration of these monitoring functions into SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure.

The proposed solution will include RFID-enabled supply chain execution with mySAP Supply Chain Management, including an improved integration of partner devices and partner based device management; a certification for standard Physical Markup Language messages coming from RFID devices; as well as a composite platform based on SAP NetWeaver that plugs into the partner’s device management, administration and monitoring tools and provides the user with a look and feel of an SAP solution.

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