University of Maryland Offers State Companies Free Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Assessments

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Maryland's Maryland Technology Extension Service (MTES), a program that delivers practical and cost-effective technical and business assistance to state companies, announces a new, radio-frequency identification (RFID) assessment program for a limited number of companies at no cost.

Required by suppliers to the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart and used by Dow Chemical, Sony and Boeing, RFID--a system for wirelessly identifying and exchanging information with objects--has saved organizations millions of dollars by improving supply chains, productivity, asset management and workflow.

"RFID refers to technologies that use radio or magnetic waves to automatically identify and track objects," says Paul Vinikoor, MTES manager and certified RFID technologist. "RFID enables companies to automatically track goods in the supply chain, work-in-process, inventory, assets and people in real-time, without the need for human intervention. Using RFID helps eliminate human errors and non-value-added labor by automating manual processes. It also provides a means for automating data capture that would otherwise be impractical."

RFID systems use RFID tags, comprised of tiny microchips and antennas mounted on a substrate, which are placed on objects to be tracked. Each RFID tag is encoded with data such as a unique identifier or serial number and product information. A handheld or mounted device, called an RFID reader, queries the tags wirelessly, without the need for line of sight, to acquire their encoded data. RFID tags can be passive, in which case they receive their operating power from the reader's query signal. Active RFID tags receive their operating power from self-contained batteries.

"RFID has fully emerged due to technological breakthroughs in the past five years," says Vinikoor. "Companies of all sizes can now take advantage of the productivity, security gains and enhancements it offers. International standards have also made it possible to buy hardware from many suppliers, and have lowered costs."

MTES offers Maryland companies on-site RFID assessments at no cost. Assessments start with a review of a company's productivity or security-related issues. Possible RFID solutions are then studied, after which a report is provided including potential costs and return on investment.

"While RFID can help many companies save substantially through improved efficiencies, it is not a panacea for everyone," says Vinikoor. "MTES' job is to look at each company individually and determine if RFID offers a viable solution to a company's business needs."

MTES' affiliation with the university prevents bias towards any RFID provider's hardware.

"We are not selling anybody's products," says Vinikoor. "We are a neutral party, which translates to objective assessments for companies."

Germany-based Metro saves an estimated $8 million a year just from using RFID to track pallets, according to a recent article in RFID Journal. Sony has reduced inventory shrinkage by tying RFID to video surveillance; Northrup Grumman is using RFID to detect damaged parts in its manufacturing operation; and drug-maker Shaw Industries uses RFID to reduce hidden logistics costs, according to the same publication.

A recent Aberdeen Group report revealed that 38 percent of enterprises using RFID are doing so to improve costs, safety and reliability of managing work-in-process. Aberdeen also reported that best-in-class organizations using RFID for work-in-process reduced incidence of process failure by at least 20 percent, improved process throughput by at least 10 percent, and experienced at least a 15 percent labor cost savings.

Vinikoor, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively, is an RFID+ (TM) Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Certified Professional.

About the Maryland Technology Extension Service (

The Maryland Technology Extension Service, a program of the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, strengthens the competitiveness of Maryland manufacturers by providing knowledge, technical and business solutions and implementation assistance.

SOURCE Maryland Technology Extension Service