Defense and NATO will test sharing RFID networks

Defense and NATO will test sharing RFID networks

NATO will establish a pilot radio frequency identification program to manage its supply chain between Europe and Afghanistan. The goal eventually is to create a system compatible with the Defense Department's RFID network.

The pilot, announced Tuesday at the Defence Logistics and Materiel Support 2004 conference in London, is a first step toward creating a system that would let NATO tap the Defense's RFID-enabled logistics network.

NATO has issued a directive calling for a compatible system by the end of next year.

The NATO network will use technology from Savi Technology Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., which also is used in DOD's In-Transit Visibility network.

ITV is the world's largest active RFID cargo-tracking system. DOD uses it to track shipments through 800 locations in 45 countries. The active tags used in ITV have their own power supplies and can be read at greater distances and can provide more information than is provided by passive tags.

The Defense Logistics Agency has credited ITV with improving supply chain management for combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq during the last two years, avoiding bottlenecks and delays that were common for the first Gulf War.

DOD is expanding its use of RFID by requiring vendors next year to include simpler, less-expensive passive tags on pallet and case shipments to the department.

DOD in October offered to share its ITV network with NATO for joint logistics operations if NATO would add a compatible infrastructure.

The NATO network will track and manage multinational shipments between Europe and Afghanistan. It will be a 12-month pilot with nine nodes containing RFID readers in four countries. The value of the contract is more than $1 million.

Savi products used in the network will include:

  • SaviTag ST-654, an active RFID tag with 240K of programmable memory operating at 433 MHz and 123 KHz and readable from more than 100 yards away

  • SaviReader SR-650, a ruggedized fixed wireless reader with an omnidirectional range of more than 100 yards; picks up and relays tag data to the supply chain network

  • SmartChain Site Managers, middleware that aggregates RFID data and converts it for use on the supply chain network, incorporating business rules specific to each site.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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