Finally, a DOD rule on RFID

Propsoed DFARS Almost A Year Late

By Bob Brewin

The Defense Department, after an eleven month delay, published today (Thursday, April 21) its proposed regulations requiring its suppliers to identify shipments with passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Suppliers and other interested parties have until June 30 to comment on the proposed Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) covering the use of RFID published today in the Federal Register, almost a year past the originally planned date.

Alan Estevez, assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for supply chain integration, said in a speech in March, 2004 that he expected publication of the proposed DFARS last May and the final rule effective in 2004, with RFID in use for some supplies this January.

While DOD plans to mandate all its suppliers to use passive RFID tags by 2007, the proposed regulation published today covers only a narrow class of suppliers of the following classes of materiel: packaged filed rations such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs); clothing and individual equipment, tools and tents an repair parts.

In its request for industry comments on the proposed RFID regulations, DOD signaled its concern for the regulation on small businesses, asking, 'whether small business considerations have been fully addressed in the regulator, flexibility analysis.' DOD also wants comments from industry on the impact the proposed RFID DFARS will have on suppliers providing electronic advance notice shipment information.

When the proposed regulations go into effect they will cover only new contracts (or modifications to existing contracts) for these supplies delivered on cases or pallets delivered to Defense Distribution Depots in Susquehanna, Penn and San Joaquin, Calif.

Larry Loliacono (cq). An IT specialist a the Defense Logistics Agency's Defense Distribution Center in New Cumberland, Penn said information systems at both Depots have been testing the use of RFID systems since early this year. Four warehouse doors in Susquehanna and five doors in San Joaquin have been equipped with RFID reader from Symbol Technologies Inc.

The reader use a short range radio signal to interrogate shipping information stored in the passive tags affixed to pallets and cases. Once read, Loliacono said that information is then transmitted over a local area network into a warehouse network hub, and then into DOD logistics information systems.

DOD has grand plans to use RFID technology to revolutionize its logistics operations, with the tags and readers sitting at the core of systems which will automate payments to vendors and insure electronic tracking of every item as it moves through global supply chain.

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