IBM to provide RFID support

Defense Department Automatic Identification Technology Web site

Defense Department officials today announced it has selected IBM Business Consulting Services to help manage and support the development and execution of a Defense-wide radio frequency identification device (RFID) policy.

Under a three-year contract, worth $8.4 million, IBM will help the military develop its final RFID policy by June 30 and support policy execution through the department's organizational units. Defense officials in October 2003 issued a preliminary policy about the use of RFID.

IBM's job is to identify commercial best practices, develop business rules based on analysis of projects, educate and inform suppliers and develop a change management strategy for the department's units. IBM will also provide subject matter support on the DOD supply chain and RFID initiative and program management support. The company will provide the technology itself.

DOD officials are "seeking to take advantage of the inherent capabilities of RFID technology to improve business functions and all aspects of the defense supply chain," said William Phillips, an IBM Business Consulting Services partner.

Radio frequency technology is used for so-called "just-in-time" logistics systems that rely on containers with electronic tags that can be read like bar codes using a handheld device or automated scanning system. Containers can be scanned at various points in transit, with the information captured in an online database so logistics experts worldwide can track the progress of supplies they ordered. Defense officials refer to this as total asset visibility. Defense suppliers will be expected to provide passive RFID tags on delivered products at the pallet and case levels by 2005.

In April, DOD will host an industry symposium in Washington, D.C., on the use of RFID tags.

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