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by Theresa, Monday, May 03, 2004, 01:16

Wal-Mart Begins RFID Rollout


By Mark Roberti

Apr. 30, 2004â€"Wal-Mart today begins receiving cases and pallets of product with RFID tags carrying Electronic Product Codes (EPCs) at a distribution center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as part of a test being conducted with eight suppliers. The tagged goods will be tracked to the back of seven Wal-Mart stores in Texas.

Wal-Mart is billing this as a trial, but Simon Langford, Wal-Mart's manager of RFID strategies, told RFID Journal that this is the beginning of the company's planned roll-out of EPC technology.

"Last year, when we briefed our suppliers, we said that we planned to do a real-world pilot in one distribution center and several stores," he says. "It's been in our plans all along and is a natural follow-on to our testing in the lab."

Wal-Mart said in June 2003 that it would require its top 100 suppliers to begin shipping tagged pallets and cases in January 2005. The retailer has spent nearly a year doing extensive tests in an RFID lab. It has been testing equipment in the Texas distribution center since mid-April.

The eight suppliers participating in the test are Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., Procter & Gamble and Unilever. Wal-Mart says more companies will be added as the trial progresses.


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