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Australia and New Zealand laggards in adopting RFID

Australia and New Zealand laggards in adopting RFID

A recent article by the independent analyst IDTechEx, reports that Australia and New Zealand are laggards when it comes to adopting RFID technology.

The article suggests, that despite the already widespread use of RFID technology worldwide, which is this year expected to reach a market value of US $2.6bn and $26 bn by 2016, the two countries are well behind in developing applications for the technology, compared to other developed nations.

Presented in the article are figures from the IDTechEx knowledgebase, of over 2000 case studies of RFID in 76 countries. The database lists 41 case studies of RFID usage in Australia and eight in New Zealand, with the number of case studies rising rapidly as new data is added.

Despite the rapid addition of new applications, RFID usage in Australia and New Zealand remains significantly lower than the United States >650, UK > 200, Japan >100, Germany >100, China >70 and lower than France, The Netherlands, Korea, and Canada, with >50 case studies for RFID technology.

RFID, it states, has only been adopted by Australia on a large scale for the tagging of cattle, which is required by law in Australia, and on a wide scale in New Zealand for the dairy industry – two industries in which Australia and New Zealand currently lead the world for RFID usage.

In Australia only one case of RFID usage was found to be in operation in an airport, but fourteen in animals and farming, covering the cattle, fish, horse and sheep producing industries. Only two cases of RFID usage were reported in cases of books, libraries and archiving, but nine in financial, security and safety applications.

Uncovered by the article, is Australia’s creative application of RFID for pipeline location, forensic samples tracking, police car tracking, visitor tagging and e-passport tagging, as well as the tagging of criminals and boats.

According to the article, healthcare facilities, land and sea logistics and postal services are laggards in using RFID in Australia, there being only three such cases recorded. Similarly there are only four cases of RFID in action in leisure.

New Zealand is also well behind the rest of the world in adopting RFID on a wide scale. Currently the country stands behind Botswana, Uruguay, Australia and Canada in the tagging of cattle and, the article indicates, is showing no urgency to catch up, despite the fact that farmers mandated to use RFID on livestock usually obtain benefits in traceability during disease outbreaks.

These figures present a stark contrast to the European Community, which has outlined the mandatory requirement for the RFID tagging of herds of sheep, goats and pigs by 2008 and cattle by 2010.

As presented in the article, New Zealand has two cases of RFID in libraries, one each in financial/ security/ safety, leisure/ sports and two in retail/ consumer goods and passenger rail. However, Fonterra, the world’s largest milk cooperative, has appointed system integrators for a major use of RFID for error prevention, record keeping and efficiency in New Zealand – a project that should be in place by September 30 this year. This will include the use of 16000 tags for milk vats, 500 000 for sample vials and the purchase and integration of 3000 RFID readers.

Despite the negative connotations of the article, there is some hope for change in the two countries. In order to improve the adoption of RFID technology in Australia and New Zealand, the IDTechEx article recommends the benchmarking of the use of RFID in Australia and New Zealand against best practice elsewhere in the world to catch up with other countries.

Improving RFID in Australia and New Zealand will bring benefits of cost, increased sales and improved security and safety as well an enhanced international competitive position, for the two countries, the report indicates.

Australia currently boasts the world’s leading producer of RFID chips for a form of RFID called Real Time Locating Systems RTLS – a company called G2 Microsystems.

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