A test centre is about to open in Manchester allowing retailers and manufacturers to trial radio frequency identification (RFID) systems and combinations and potentially helping to improve take-up of this technology.
The centre is being backed by the data synchronisation group GS1 UK and RFID systems provider Intellident. It will help potential users test different systems, tags and products, said Chris Tyas, Nestlé UK and Ireland supply chain director and vice chairman of GS1 UK.
“Because the centre is run by GS1, a non-profit making organisation, it will be something independent that people are able to use to do all this sort of testing,” said Tyas.
Technical difficulties resulting from limitations on available frequency ranges in Europe have meant that RFID has been slower to take off here than in the US. “It is much easier for businesses to make business cases in the US than it is in Europe,” said Tyas.
In the interim, Tyas expects the Databar - a type of bar code which is half the usual size - to become more widely used. The technology is expected to become universally available by the beginning of 2010.
Databar will prove particularly useful for small food items, claimed Tyas. “Some of the retailers are testing individually bar coded apples at the moment. We have lots of really small products: Fruit Pastilles, for example.”