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Introduction

The value that RFID brings to any enterprise has been established through many pilots conducted around the world. These benefits become even more apparent when companies move from the pilot stage into the production. In order to derive maximum benefits from the technology and to keep costs to a minimum, enterprises are realizing that greater and simplified integration with backend systems is a must. The need for flexibility to support multiple supply chain processes is vital for RFID initiatives to be successful. Coupled with this, there is the requirement to manage huge volumes of data that would be generated as a result of introducing RFID. By adopting the principles of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) as a means of addressing this integration problem, the transition is smoothed and significant process enhancements can be gained.



The Drivers

Volumes to be handled in RFID deployments

Manufacturers who have started to implement RFID into their fulfillment systems and other processes are realizing the full impact of this development. With the increasing pressures to conform to supply chain edicts producers and stockholders will see mounting demands for further applications of tags. This is especially so as the tag price drops and the financial and performance benefits of RFID become apparent. The forecasts are that tagging requirements are growing exponentially, from thousands to hundreds of thousands per year. As a result, capabilities for case tagging would need to be extended to varying distribution points within the supply chain. The 'slap and ship' approach needs to be moved from one that is manually controlled, to a process that is fully automated and that integrates seamlessly with other systems. These independent systems could be running remotely bringing additional levels of complexity.

The SOA principles are defined as the implementation, integration and control of a set of services that interact with each other in a well-defined manner. By embracing these principles it allows for the maximum reuse of the existing software and permits these processes to perform with total flexibility in any change. Usage of web services for integration with external systems could take away any technology dependencies and would also enable interaction with systems at remote locations. Process workflows could be managed using Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) software that has the capability of extending beyond enterprise boundaries and stretch into the infrastructure of suppliers.

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