Vendors are putting their weight behind radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging following increased adoption by retailers.
Both SAP and ObjectStore are following in the footsteps of supply chain firm Manugistics by announcing new RFID products to improve data capture and management for retailers and their supply chain partners.
SAP's new Java-based RFID product combines Auto-ID infrastructure, Event Management and Enterprise Portal, so that firms can integrate RFID with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management applications.
The firm claims that the package will help automate and speed up retail functions including the packing, shipping and tracking of goods across the supply chain.
ObjectStore has also launched an electronic product code (EPC) compliant database that integrates RFID with product movement, stock rotation, inventory levels and other management information.
EPC is a standard that specifies the design of RFID technology and the information it holds.
Analyst firm Ovum believes that better integration of RFID information into data management systems will improve real-time stock monitoring and management throughout the supply chain.
"Off-the-shelf systems can help speed up deployment of RFID solutions and cut the time and money needed to build and interface between the tags and the ERP systems," said Philip Carnelley, software research director at Ovum.
The analyst added that other ERP and supply chain management firms, such as PeopleSoft and i2, are also likely to introduce RFID packages as they can provide consultancy revenues.
"I do not think companies will have to make their own customised RFID interfaces for much longer. There will be a plethora of off-the-shelf systems soon," said Carnelley.
He explained that real-time RFID can help give a constant view of the warehouse, updating managers on the location of stock and how it can be distributed more cost effectively.
For example, knowing when goods are ready for distribution can bring savings in the running of a lorry fleet, according to Ovum.
Ralph Schneider, vice president of business development at SAP, said that its offering would "allow companies to automate more business processes".
Auto-ID connectors for SAP R/3, version 4.6c or higher, and mySAP ERP allow the RFID tools to be integrated into existing supply chain systems.
ObjectStore's Real Time Event Engine supports the EPCglobal standard for tag formats, specifically the 96-bit Class 1 and Class 0 EPC codes and the required elements of the EPCglobal Savant standard interfaces.
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