Wallie's starts RFID testing

(April 29, 2004) — (Undated-AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated and a number of its suppliers are using a Dallas distribution center as the starting point for a technology targeted to replace the bar code. The technique involves use of radio frequency information tags. The R-F-I-D tags provide automatic tracking of pallets and cases of goods. Starting today, eight suppliers are to participate, using 21 products to be tracked. Wal-Mart said yesterday that it will have more than 100 suppliers using the tags by January. Wal-Mart chief information officer Linda Dillman would not say how much the Bentonville-based company is spending. But she said the tags are on the top line of Wal-Mart's technology budget. The R-F-I-D tags contain a chip that is contains information. In a backshop retail environment, the tags will contain the details of what is in a case or on a pallet of goods. Rather than have a worker with a handheld scanner logging in barcodes, the system will let a computer system use a radio signal to log the goods as they arrive at the loading dock. The tags can also be used in the manufacturing process. Dillman said that can help suppliers become more efficient. She said the tags will help companies on both ends know where their products are at all times. Wal-Mart says the tags will help reduce theft and counterfeiting, the latter particularly affecting prescription medicines.