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RFID Enabled Traceability Networks


the date of receipt and acceptance should be inserted later Abstract The emergence of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology brings significant social and economic benefits. As a non line of sight technology, RFID provides an effective way to record movements of objects within a networked RFID system formed by a set of distributed and collaborating parties. A trail of such recorded movements is the foundation for enabling traceability applications. While traceability is a critical aspect of majority of RFID applications, realizing traceability for these applications brings many fundamental research and development issues. In this paper, we assess the requirements for developing traceability applications that use networked RFID technology at their core. We propose a set of criteria for analyzing and comparing the current existing techniques including system architectures and data models. We also outline some research opportunities in the design and development of traceability applications.

Traceability refers to the capability of an application to track the state (e.g., location, temperature) of goods, discover information regarding its past state and potentially estimate its future state. Traceability is vital for efficient business operations and for making effective decisions, which is fundamental to a wide range of business applications such as inventory control, distribution planning, manufacturing control, product recalls, counterfeit detection and re-usable asset management. Effective and accurate identification is very important to realize a traceability application. Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a wireless technology capable of automatic and unambiguous identification (without line of sight) by extracting a unique identifier from microelectronic tags attached to objects. RFID was first explored in 1940s as a method to identify allied air planes [38]. In the decades following its invention, RFID was mainly used in small-scale applications such as automatic checkouts, electronic toll collection, and antitheft initiatives. The main reasons for RFID’s limited use were the cost of RFID tags and the immaturity of the technology. In the past decade, research initiatives by academic organizations such as the Auto-ID Center, now called the Auto-ID Labs , industrial interests from companies (e.g., Wal-Mart) and government initiatives (e.g., the United States Department of Defense) have rapidly escalated new developments and interests in RFID technology. Alongside, Moore’s Law has ensured that integrated circuits reduce in size, cost and power consumption. Consequently, RFID systems have become more reliable, improved in performance and more importantly, have become cheaper. These developments have resulted in an explosion in the number of RFID systems and applications deployment (e.g., tracking of tagged products in a global supply chain). One of the important technological advances that has made this explosion possible is the so-called “Networked RFID” [51,46]. The basic idea behind Networked RFID is to use the Internet to connect otherwise isolated RFID systems and software. Networked RFID not only eases the integration of distinct RFID systems, but more importantly, addresses the limitations of passive tags (e.g., communication, computation, and storage). The EPCglobal Network—designed by the Auto-ID Labs and developed further by the EPCglobal 2—is a recent notable effort for Networked RFID. The EPCglobal Network is an architecture to realize a “data-on-network” system, where RFID tags contain an unambiguous ID and other data pertaining to the objects are stored and accessed over the Internet. Significant and promising benefits from “Networked RFID” are related to enabling traceability. For example, traceability applications analyze automatically recorded identi- fication events to discover the current location of an individual item. They can also retrieve historical information, such as previous locations, time of travel between locations, and time spent in storage. Many organizations from industry to military are planning or already exploiting RFID to enable traceability. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest public corporation by revenue, in 2005, mandated its top 100 suppliers to tag their pallets and cases using RFID [7]. The U.S. Department of Defense released a policy on the use of RFID to its external suppliers and for internal operations

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