RFID is everywhere! Or so it seems. packagePRINTING has covered the topic several times this year. In addition, a second RFID Guide was just published by packagePRINTING for TLMI. It covers a range of applicable topics from standards and market entry approaches to converter experiences.
The reason why RFID is such a hot topic is that RFID is not really everywhere—yet. But it will be. Everyone knows about the famous “requests” by Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense for pallet- and case-level RFID tagging that kicked off this craze.
Much of the discussion today focuses on the next level of implementation—item-level RFID tagging. IDTechEx, an industry analyst firm, has recently issued a report on the prospects of item-level RFID tagging. The scale for this level of implementation is staggering.
In the report, IDTechEx reports that item-level tags will be the largest RFID market starting as early as 2007, and skyrocketing from there. A $0.16 billion market in 2006 is projected to expand to $13 billion by 2016. In terms of number of tags, in 2006 0.2 billion items will be RFID tagged worldwide and in 2016, IDTechEx said this number could be 550 billion.
One of the markets that will lead this rush to item-level tagging is the pharmaceutical industry. It is a high-margin business with a lot at stake. Errors and mistakes in administering pharmaceuticals are not uncommon—and these are the honest mistakes. Counterfeit products that cost pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars and put patients at risk are fairly prevalent.
RFID can play a key role in combating these problems. In the report, IDTechEx says that the U.S. FDA will make tagging of up to 20 billion prescription drugs a legal requirement. Other potential markets include many high-volume products. All told, these products could total 5 to 10 trillion items per year.