SAP launches RFID starter kit for metro suppliers
A US version of the starter kit is in the works and likely will be ready by about September, said Everett, Washington-based Intermec. Metro, one of the world's largest retailers, has mandated RFID tagged pallets from its suppliers by years' end. Germany's Intermec is working with other companies, including SAP rival Oracle, on RFID packages, but SAP's is the first complete kit, said John Sweitzer, Intermec director of global alliances. "This is the probably Intermec's first commercial-grade package," Sweitzer said. "Basically, the kit gives you everything you need." The kit is aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses and comes with RFID hardware and software. That includes an Intermec fixed RFID and printer, which connects to SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure software (a component of NetWeaver). No middleware is needed. The starter kit is designed to be a cost-effective way for retailers to adopt RFID technology, with the option to add back-end systems and hardware at some future point. The kit is based on ISO standards, which were adopted by Europeans to a larger degree than in the US, Sweitzer said. More importantly, the kit comes with an upgrade to the next-generation RFID standard, called Generation 2, which is in the ISO pipeline for adoption. It will be available until October 31. "This was a joint project with SAP to go after the next tier of suppliers to Metro ... to make it easy for them to comply," Sweitzer said. "We fully anticipate and SAP is working with us to do a similar introduction in the US." SAP's upcoming starter kit for US companies will be based on EPCgobal standards, notably Class Zero and Class One, with an upgrade to Gen 2, he said.