Item Level RFID – Prosperous Market 2006-2016
Item level RFID is set for substantial growth over the next decade. A new study from IDTechEx forecasts and explores key markets that will apply item-level tagging, advances in technology and the mass adoption that will follow. Dr. Peter Harrop from IDTechEx summarises this study below.
Item level RFID is the tagging of the smallest taggable unit of things – the library book, apparel, jewellery, engineering parts and laundry are examples. Already profitable for most suppliers, item level tags and systems will be the world’s largest RFID market by value from 2007 onwards. Item level RFID tagging will rocket from $0.16 billion in 2006 to $13 billion in 2016 for systems including tags. In 2006, 0.2 billion items will be RFID tagged in the world. In 2016, 550 billion items may be RFID tagged. Those adopting item level tagging today do so willingly and are prepared to pay for good performance as they enjoy rapid multiple paybacks.
Relatively Problem Free
This is in some contrast to pallet and case tagging where consumer goods companies are required by retailers to fit the tags regardless of economics. The consumer goods companies are therefore reluctant purchasers of RFID and these tag and interrogator prices are in free fall from oversupply. The RFID tag and interrogator suppliers involved typically lose money. Here we are talking about Far Field UHF tags, which work well enough on pallets, cases and air baggage under US radio regulations but are only relatively trouble free elsewhere in applications with very low reader density, shortish range and dry, non-metallic environments. That means retail apparel in the UK and Japan and books in bookshops in the Netherlands, for example. The problems elsewhere are because, as yet, few countries outside the US permit adequate UHF power levels, bandwidth and signalling protocols for RFID. By contrast, HF is the most popular frequency for item level tagging and, with well over one billion such tags delivered, it encounters few remaining technical problems. So called Near Field UHF is a promising alternative that may give lower costs when proven in high volume applications.