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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure By Anand Vidhyasekaran

RFID:

An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

By Anand Vidhyasekaran

Abstract:

Implementing RFID systems presents many challenges and requires careful planning and understanding of several different technologies. This white paper introduces RFID systems, RFID components, and the new EPC™ Class 1 Gen 2 specification, and discusses advantages of Gen 2 over Gen 1 protocols. The final part of the paper discusses implementing RFID using SAP Auto ID Infrastructure (AII) and integrating RFID to the SAP R/3 back end.

RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

The journey to success starts with a clear executive vision that

Introduction

looks wide across departments and divisions, deep within the organization,

The first part of this paper discusses

and long in time. The companies with 20/20 vision at the start of the

different classifications of Radio Frequency

Identification, or RFID—with special focus on

change journey are those that will travel well and arrive at the destination

EPC Class 1 Gen 2 tags. The second part of

of successful, profitable benefit from the change.

this paper discusses RFID implementation in the SAP world, SAP AII architecture, and

advantages of using SAP AII instead of third- party middleware.

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Components of an RFID System

An RFID system consists of RFID tags, which are attached to products, cases, pallets or assets: RFID reader, antennae, sensors, actuators, annunciators, transmitters, and controllers. The system will

additionally require middleware software to filter and

smooth RFID data and back-end software to collect and aggregate information.

RFID Tag

An RFID tag basically consists of an RFID inlay enclosed

in a label or other case material (depending on its application). RFID inlays consist of an RFID chip and

antennae on a substrate. RFID tags are classified

broadly as active, semi-passive and passive. RFID tags can have three memory types:

• Read only (RO) • Write-once read-many (WORM) • Read/Write (RW)

The amount of read/write memory varies from 64 bits to 2 kilobits.

2 Components of an RFID System An RFID system consists of RFID tags, which are attached

Figure 1: Sample RFID Tag Inlay

How Does RFID Work?

Data transfer between the RFID tag and RFID reader happens by a process called coupling. Coupling happens either electromagnetically (backscatter) or magnetically (inductive). Inductively coupled systems have a short range and are used in applications such as access control (proximity cards). Backscatter technology is usually used in supply chain inventory tracking and asset management.

RFID Readers

RFID readers are sometimes referred to as interrogators. Interrogators allow the user to read and write data to compatible tags. The readers have a transmitter, receiver, microprocessor, memory, communication ports and optional input/output channels to control external sensors, actuators and annunciators.

Transmitters

The transmitter is used to transmit electromagnetic signals using the reader antennae. Signals are absorbed by the RFID tags in their receiving range and energize integrated circuits to transmit a return response. The receiver in the reader picks up the signal from the tag and decodes it, passing the result to a host. Readers may support serial or network communication channels.

Controllers

The controllers allow an RFID system to interface with sensors, actuators and annunciators. Some newer RFID readers provide built-in controller functionality, a key component to create an automated data collection system.

Sensors

An RFID system uses sensors to detect the presence of a case, pallet, or other item. A presence sensor allows the system to trigger the RFID reader for a read, and allows the system to act on a “read” or “no read” command when the item leaves the read zone.

Annunciators

Annunciators are external notification devices which

allow the system to notify users of the success or

failure of an RFID read. An annunciator may be an

alarm or a light stack of yellow, green, and red lights. Annunciators are controlled by an external controller or by input /output relays in the reader.

RFID Middleware

RFID systems can potentially generate large amounts

of redundant data, which need to be filtered before

being sent to back-end systems. Filtering and smoothing of relevant data is the function of RFID

middleware. Middleware software hides device-specific

protocols and allows management of multiple RFID devices, sensors and annunciators. Some newer RFID

readers—such as Intermec IF5 and Symbol XR400— provide added functionality to do some local filtering

on the reader. Depending on the complexity of the architecture, RFID middleware may be a good idea.

RFID middleware software can vary greatly in features,

from a simple device controller and filtering software,

to something that manages a complex network of RFID readers and sensors.

RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

RFID Classification

RFID tags are widely classified as active, semi-passive

and passive tags. Active tags use an internal battery to power the tags. Passive tags do not have a battery, but use the radio frequency signal from the reader to energize the tag. Semi-passive tags have a backup battery, but do not use the battery to send a constant signal. The tag is awakened by the reader signal, but the signal does not energize the tag; the battery is used to energize the tag. Thus, semi-passive tags have a longer read range than passive tags.

Active tags are used in applications where a large read

range is needed (30 feet to 1000 feet or 9 meters to

300 meters). Active tags can also support sensors

to periodically read and record temperature and humidity values. Active tags are used in asset tracking, transportation, toll roads, container seals and any

application requiring a long read range.

In supply chain applications, passive tags are more commonplace than active tags because of their wide read range, smaller size and lower cost. The typical

read range of passive tags is 1 inch to 30 feet (2.5 centimeter to 9 meter). These tags are typically used

for Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) RFID compliance rules. Passive tags have a long life and can withstand harsh conditions.

RFID Operating Frequencies

Tags are classified based on operating frequency as

follows:

• Low Frequency (LF) — less than 30 KHz to 300 KHz, but most commonly 125 KHz to 134 KHz.

• High Frequency (HF) — 3 MHz to 30 MHz, most commonly 13.56 MHz.

• Ultra High Frequency (UHF) — 860 MHz to 930 MHz

• Microwave — 2.45 GHz and 5.8 GHz

Low Frequency (LF)

LF tags are generally passive and have low data transfer rates. These tags perform very well in

environments consisting of water or metals—generally

known as RF-opaque materials. A material is called

RF-opaque if it blocks, reflects and/or scatters RF

waves 1 . RF-friendly materials are materials which do not absorb substantial RF energy and are called RF-lucent. LF tags are widely used in animal tracking and access control applications.

High Frequency (HF)

HF tags perform well in water and metal environments.

They have a better data transfer rate than LF tags and a longer read range of up to three feet. These tags are widely used in item-level tagging applications, such as books, luggage, DVDs, anti-counterfeiting, hospitals,

and smart cards.

Ultra High Frequency (UHF)

UHF tags have a higher read range of over ten feet for

passive tags, and several hundred feet for active tags

using 433 MHz. The most popular UHF passive tags

currently used in Electronic Product Code (EPC) supply

chain applications work at the 860 MHz to 960 MHz

range. UHF tags are used extensively in supply chain

and asset management applications.

The main drawback to UHF tags is that they are more RF-opaque than HF tags in environments with high

water and metal content.

While the cost of UHF passive tags used to be high,

costs are rapidly decreasing as the volume of tags produced increases.

Microwave

These tags have high data transfer rates and a read

range similar to UHF tags. The antenna size is inversely

proportional to the operating frequency for the same read range; hence, microwave tags are smaller than

UHF tags. Microwave tags do not perform well in

environments with high water and metal content.

EPCglobal TM

RFID tags have been used in vertical markets and closed-loop applications for several decades. Several different application standards have been used. To

work in open-loop systems, the RFID specification has

required standardization. The EPCglobal Network™ was formed as a joint venture between EAN international and the Uniform Code Council (UCC). EPCglobal introduced the Electronic Product Code (EPC TM ) and standardization of RFID tags and readers. This allowed RFID technology to be used also in open-loop systems.

The Department of Defense (DoD) and major retail

stores—such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy—are

now mandating that their suppliers apply RFID tags on cases, pallets and high value items.

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Electronic Product Code (EPC TM )

EPC™ is a way to uniquely identify objects (such as cases, pallets, and other items), and their location in the supply chain. EPC is designed to represent a wide variety of existing numbering systems, such as EAN, UCC, UID, VIN and other standards. An EPC number consists of the following parts:

• Header, to classify the tag type (EPC version)

• Manager Number, to identify the company • Object Class, to identify the product code • Serial Number, to allow serialization of an object.

Electronic Product Code

Header EPC Object Serial Manager Class Num ber
Header
EPC
Object
Serial
Manager
Class
Num ber

01.0000B76.00018D.000259DB2

Figure 2: Sample Electronic Product Code

EPC TM RFID Tag Classification

An EPC™ identifies RFID tags within one of the following classifications:

• Class 0 / Class 0+

• Class 1 • Class 1 Generation 2

• Class 2 Higher Functionality

• Class 3 Semi-Passive • Class 4 Active

Class 0 / 0+ Tags

Class 0 tags are read-only, factory pre-programmed tags. They contain either a 64-bit or 96-bit EPC™ code. Class 0+ tags were introduced later to comply

with Class 0 air protocols, and can be written once to

encode an EPC at the end user’s location.

Class 1 Tags

Class 1 tags are “write-once read-many” (WORM) tags. This allows end-users to encode the EPC on the tag

before applying it on a case or pallet. Class 1 tags are

available for 64-bit or 96-bit EPC encoding.

The DoD and major retailers have currently mandated

that suppliers label cases and pallets with Class 0 or

Class 1 tags until Class 1 Gen 2 tags are more widely

available. Wal-Mart expects to discontinue Class 0 and Class 1 tags by summer 2006.

Class 1, Generation 2 (Gen 2) Tags

These are commonly referred as “Gen 2” tags.

Gen 2 specification unifies multiple UHF standards

into one, incorporating the best features available

from Class 0, Class 1, and ISO standards. Gen 2 tags

can communicate with readers operating at various

frequencies ranging from 860 MHz to 960 MHz. Readers in Europe and Asia operate at 860 MHz,

and in the U.S. at 930 MHz. This allows companies

working internationally to use the same tags. The Gen 2 protocol allows the tags to respond in a different channel from the reader transmission channel. This reduces reader and tag transmission collisions and improves the read rate.

The benefits of Gen 2 protocols are:

• There is one universal UHF standard.

• Gen 1 tags have a throughput of 55 to 80 Kbps.

Faster read rates mean typical Gen 2 tags have a

data transfer rate of up to 640 Kbps (1600 tags per second in the U.S., 600 tags per second in Europe).

• Variable read rates allow slower configurations of Gen

2 readers in noisy environments, thus improving the read range.

• The write speed in Gen 2 protocol is more reliable

and faster than in Class 1—typically 10 tags per

second. • Gen 2 tags allow multiple read/write (RW).

• A denser reader operating mode allows multiple readers to operate in close proximity by using a technique called frequency channeling, whereby each reader transmits in different frequency channels.

• More reliable link protocols remove the ghost-read problems of Class 1 protocols. (A ghost read is when a reader picks up the surrounding RF noise and decodes the noise as a valid RFID tag.)

• Unauthorized “kill commands” are prevented with enhanced security, because 32-bit lock-and-kill

passwords are superior to 8-bit security in Class 1

tags.

• Extended memory from 96 bits to 512 bits

accommodates additional information, such as lot number, expiration date, warranty, etc.

• Gen 2 allows selection of a specific group of tags.

• Gen 2 tags are smaller and less costly. • Optional access control allows users (who provide security credentials) to lock the tag for “read only” access.

4 Electronic Product Code (EPC ) EPC™ is a way to uniquely identify objects (such as
5 RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

Not all Gen 2 readers are equal. Gen 2 specification

allows for three different levels of compliance for readers: single reader, multiple reader, and dense reader.

  • 1. A single reader provides acceptable performance but is not a good neighbor to other RF devices such as additional RFID readers, wireless phones, and older wireless networks.

  • 2. Multiple readers (up to 10) operate on available

active channels. These allow up to ten active readers.

  • 3. Dense readers operate on all available channels—up to 50 active readers in 50 available channels.

Multi-protocol readers for mixed-population tags will have decreased performance because the reader must cycle through the protocols to read all tags.

Most legacy RFID readers which have supported Class

0 and Class 1 tags cannot be upgraded to a dense

reader mode simply by upgrading firmware. Users need

to choose the proper RFID reader for their environment.

The best startup option for companies implementing RFID is to use dense-mode-supported RFID readers. A single RF rogue reader in a dense reader environment can interfere with many dense mode readers.

For companies with existing RFID readers, it is best to upgrade to Gen 2 readers unless situations warrant replacing all old readers with new dense-mode- supported RFID readers.

Class 2 Higher Functionality Tags

These tags have:

• An extended tag identifier

• An extended user memory • An authenticated user access

• Additional features not yet defined

Class 3 Semi-Passive Tags

These tags have all Class 2 features, plus:

• An integral power source, such as a battery • Integrated sensor circuits

Class 4 Active Tags

Though specific features are not yet formalized on

these tags, they have all Class 3 features, plus:

• Tag-to-tag communication • Active communications • Ad hoc networking

Smart Labels and Tag Commissioning

Smart labels are labels with RFID inlays embedded in them. These tags allow the users to print barcodes and other human readable information on the same label with an EPC-encoded RFID tag. Smart labels solve the problem of using different labels for different systems.

Figure 3: Smart Label

The cost of smart labels generally consists of the RFID tag inlay plus the enclosing label. Many prospective users assume the total cost is the same as the tag inlay cost. For budgeting, it is important to know the complete smart label cost.

Tag commissioning is the process of encoding the smart labels with the correct EPC information and printing barcodes and additional human readable information.

Tag decommissioning is the process of killing the tag or deleting the encoded information from the tag.

Slap and Ship

The process of commissioning RFID tags, applying them on cases and pallets, and shipping them is called “slap and ship,” or RFID compliance labeling. This approach to implementation has a lower initial cost, but it does not deliver an ROI (return on investment) to the sender. It does, however, allow the user to get accustomed to the RFID technology and prepared for the back-end integration of enterprise systems.

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Advantages of RFID Over Barcodes

RFID is a technology that is likely to have a lengthy and complementary coexistence with the barcode rather than replacing it. However, the RFID does have these

advantages:

• The RFID tag can accept a read/write (RW) transmission without physical contact. Barcodes can only be read without contact.

• Data can be written to RFID (RW) tags many times, allowing applications where barcodes will not work.

• Certain RFID tags can be read from very long ranges.

• A barcode requires a line of sight to read the data. RFID tags do not require a line of sight, and depending on content, the user may be able to read through a package.

• RFID tags can be read more accurately and store larger amounts of data than barcodes.

• RFID tags are more rugged than barcodes and can be read in a wider range of environmental conditions. Barcodes can be easily damaged by external elements such as moisture, dirt, and sunlight.

• Multiple RFID tags can be read simultaneously. • RFID tags can perform periodic, automated data recording of temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure.

• RFID item level tagging provides for serialization of items.

• RFID has superior anti-counterfeiting measures

Advantages of the Barcode Over RFID

• Barcode labels have been and may always be less expensive than RFID tags.

• Barcode technology has been proven successful for

more than 20 years.

• Barcodes are not affected by package content.

• Barcodes require line of sight for reading; the user cannot accidentally read a different item.

• The read accuracy of barcodes is very high, close to the accuracy of RFID tags.

RFID System Implementation

The following is a typical sequence of events for RFID implementation:

1. Business Case Development

Business leaders must investigate and understand their current practices and processes and identify areas where enhanced information and visibility from RFID can provide the largest and fastest returns. Involving personnel from each major process will allow managers and employees to work together and identify those

areas that can benefit from RFID. A short-term and

long-term ROI analysis for the RFID implementation must be performed. Do not forget to include direct and

indirect benefits. ROI is discussed in a separate section

in this article.

  • 2. Business Process Blueprint

In this phase detailed analysis of the business processes affected by RFID must be done. Any new processes designed must also support RFID tags and existing barcode-based processes. The system must be designed so that business processes, such as receiving, storing, picking and shipping, should not break down every time there is a misread or no read.

Discrepancies must be handled efficiently to recognize

the full potential of RFID.

  • 3. Logical Design

Determine a logical architecture of the RFID system.

Logical system design can be a simple block diagram

which describes the logical flow of information. The logical design should map business workflow and RFID

data collection impact points.

  • 4. Technical Design

Implementing an RFID system poses several technical and physical challenges:

• Tag selection • Tag placement

• Backend Integration • Business Process Integration • Event Management Business Process Integration • Tag Selection
• Backend Integration
• Business Process Integration
• Event Management
Business
Process
Integration
• Tag Selection
• Tag Placement
• Reader Tuning
• Portal Design
RFID
Physics
RFID Device
Integration &
Monitoring
• Device Business Process Mapping
• Multiple Device Coordination
• Device Monitoring
• Device Maintenance
• Configuration Management
• Control external devices such as
light stack, sensors, conveyor belts

Figure 4: RFID Implementation - Technical Challenges

6 Advantages of RFID Over Barcodes RFID is a technology that is likely to have a

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RFID: An

RFID,

Gen Introduction

2 and SAP and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

• Label applicators

• RFID reader tuning

• Antenna selection

• Antenna placement

• Device controller selection

• Portal design

• External device interface

• Multi-reader device management

• Device integration

• Device monitoring

• Middleware selection and configuration

Lessons Learned from RFID Implementations

  • 1. RFID allows you to read tags without line of sight

which is advantageous only if the business process

guarantees reliable reads of all tags in the read

zone. Otherwise, there should be a process to

verify that the number of tags read is the total

number expected. In most cases, achieving tag

singularity (isolating one tag) in the read zone will

be the simplest and best design.

2. One of the major mistakes made during RFID implementation is focusing too much on the
2.
One of the major mistakes made during RFID
implementation is focusing too much on the
technology performance and not on business
process.
3.
Always develop procedures to handle misreads and
false reads.
4.
Filter and read only the required type of tag for
each business process.
5.
Choose the correct tag and reader for your
application. Long read range is not always better.
6.
Do not underestimate the time to tweak readers,
antennae and tags to achieve acceptable results in
the live environment.

Figure 5: RFID Conveyor Portal used by CIBER for a client.

System integration poses these challenges:

• Business process integration

• Integration with back-end systems

• Event management and alerts

  • 5. Pilot Testing

This phase allows you to test and validate the business

processes as well as the technical architecture with

minimal interruption to production. It is important

to include most of the business case scenarios and

product mix in the pilot so that the system can be fine-

tuned at pilot phase.

  • 6. Production

After the pilot phase, a business plan for full scale

deployment must be developed based on the lessons

learned during pilot phase. Employee training is an

important component of the RFID system deployment

and must be well planned and executed.

  • 7. Dock door portal areas - it is important to manage the requirement for longer read range and not read spurious tags from outside the zone.

  • 8. Look for new business processes that will improve productivity.

  • 9. In an automated hands-free data collection

environment, device monitoring is important.

Integrate visual feedback for success/failure of

transactions.

  • 10. Do not underestimate change management issues, training and roll-out times. Early RFID adopters have nearly all cited this as a key issue that they wish they had given more attention to.

  • 11. Train the employee on proper placement of tags on

different materials. The tag orientation will affect

the read range and read success rate.

  • 12. Finally test, test and test – It is important to test all real business processes during the pilot phase.

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ROI (Return on Investment)

RFID is a data collection technology. As with other data

collection technology, the benefits and ROI can be only

achieved by utilizing the data, improving the business

processes, and automating the business processes.

RFID provides several benefits. If the system is

designed and implemented by improving existing

processes and is integrated with back-end systems, ROI

can be achieved in the following areas:

Reduction in inventory-carrying costs

The higher visibility of stock throughout the supply

chain achieved by using RFID reduces the necessity

for excessive safety stocks, and thus reduces the

inventory carrying cost.

Reduction in “stock outs” Reduced shrinkage

Shrinkage reductions due to the enhanced security

of RFID will aid in creating higher fulfillment levels,

customer service, and productivity.

Reduced direct labor costs

According to one estimate just on labor reductions

alone, organizations will reduce operating expenses

by 7.5% 2 .

Improved fulfillment rates Reduced spoilage Improved recall management

Improved inventory visibility throughout the supply chain

• Improved tracking of assets and utilization assets

• Improved customer service

RFID is a proven solution with high return on investment

for closed-loop systems, such as yard management,

container tracking, fleet management, automated toll

lanes, access control and asset management.

In supply chain applications, the retailers have most

of the ROI at this point; manufacturers will see ROI

in the long term through indirect benefits, improved

processes, and improved customer service. The major

difference between manufacturer and retailer is the

tag cost which is borne by the manufacturer. As the tag

cost decreases, it will be easier for manufacturer to

achieve quicker ROI.

A typical retailer loses 4% of sales due to items out-

of-stock 3 , so any system which monitors and reduces

these shortages will directly improve the bottom line.

Wal-Mart released results of its RFID pilot program in

October 2005, which cited a 16% reduction in stock

outage and 67% reduction in restocking time. Manual

orders, which are placed when items fall below safety

stock in inventory, were reduced by 10 percent 4 .

The faster companies integrate RFID technology into

their business processes, the more ROI will accumulate

as the RFID technology evolves.

Application Areas

RFID has been used successfully in several different

applications, such as:

• Access control

• Airplane parts tracking

• Animal management

• Anti-counterfeiting applications

• Asset management

• Automobile industry (parts and warranty tracking)

• Baggage handling

• Electronic vehicle registration

• Fleet management

• Food transportation (temperature, humidity sensing)

• Health care (patients, critical equipment tracking)

• Homeland Security

• KANBAN systems

• Library management

• Lot and serial number tracking

• Pharmaceutical management

• Plant maintenance

• Product life cycle management

• Recall management

• Rental Car (automated check-in/check-out)

• Supply chain management

• Yard management

8 ROI (Return on Investment) RFID is a data collection technology. As with other data collection
9 RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

RFID in the SAP World

In contrast to using barcodes, which typically identify

a type of material (e.g., UPC-EAN), RFID focuses on

numbering pallets, cases, and—in the near future—

individual items. Analysts predict the data volume

to grow ten to fifteen times. To avoid the high cost

of maintaining multiple interfaces between RFID,

warehouse systems and ERP systems, it is critical to

choose systems that are well integrated to back-end

systems.

SAP has been investing in RFID solutions for the past

six years. SAP is convinced that RFID will do more

than replace existing processes; it will drive new

business processes. SAP provides tools to seamlessly

integrate RFID into its applications. One of the first

implementation areas is to automate supply chain

processes and transactions to achieve inventory

visibility throughout the supply chain. This allows

exception-based event management.

SAP Auto ID Infrastructure (AII)

To handle expected data volume and isolate back-end

systems like ERP and supply chain visibility, SAP offers

AII.

AII connects the physical goods (flowing through the

supply chain) with the document-oriented back ends

such as ERP. AII can be used to collect RFID data as a

stand-alone application. AII allows the user to send the

data to SAP ERP or to other back-end systems such as

Oracle ERP or legacy warehouse management systems.

AII allows integration of all communications and

external sensor devices such as RFID readers,

barcodes, Bluetooth® and printers. AII filters, smooths

and aggregates relevant data while mapping the tag

events pertaining to business processes.

AII is designed to be lean and fast with its own SQL

database. This allows AII to be installed independently

at the edge of plants or warehouses, so AII is closer to

real-time data transactions.

AII supports all EPC 64-bit and 96-bit data constructs

and DoD data constructs for RFID. It also allows user-

defined encoding schemes to support future data tag

constructs.

SAP RFID Integrated Processes

SAP is integrating RFID into several business processes.

The following business processes support RFID

integration:

• Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

• Supply Chain Management (SCM)

• Goods receipt

• Goods issues

• Change bin location

• Change pallet ownership

• Unexpected pallet arrival

• Order fulfillment visibility

• Stock counting (AII 4.0)

• Customizable Tag ID hierarchies

Inbound Processing

The inbound scenario starts with the supplier sending

an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Advance Ship

Notice (ASN), which includes the EPC of cases and

pallets received by the warehouse, completing the

inbound delivery for the buyer.

Inbound processing is done in these steps:

  • 1. Receive the EDI ASN from the vendor, including EPCs

of cases and pallets.

  • 2. Create an inbound delivery document based on the

ASN.

  • 3. Transfer the inbound delivery document to AII for processing inbound materials.

  • 4. Store inbound delivery data such as line items, quantity and EPCs of cases and pallets.

  • 5. Scan RFID tags using fixed or mobile RFID readers; create unload messages for AII.

  • 6. Create inbound delivery document status by comparing ASN EPCs with actual EPCs read. Rules can be set up to receive all items if a certain percentage of tags read is achieved.

  • 7. Update event management for supply chain visibility. Buyers and sellers know exactly which cases are received and which ones are missing.

  • 8. Issue an automated goods receipt. The status

of inbound delivery is updated in both ERP and event

management.

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10

10 Vendor Check and Receive Goods Scan IDs Check Consistency Post AII Post Goods Receipt Adv.

Vendor

Check and Receive Goods

Scan IDs Check Consistency Post AII
Scan IDs
Check Consistency
Post
AII
Post Goods Receipt
Post
Goods
Receipt

Adv. Ship Notification (EDI)

Buyer
Buyer

Feedback

Events

10 Vendor Check and Receive Goods Scan IDs Check Consistency Post AII Post Goods Receipt Adv.

SAP EM

Register EPC’s Delivery WM
Register
EPC’s
Delivery
WM

Figure 6: Inbound Process with RFID

SAP AII triggers event management handlers in the

following events.

Handling Unit Status:

• Packed

• Loaded

• Goods issued

• Unloaded

• Goods received

Delivery Status:

• Picking complete

• Goods issued

• Goods received

• Proof of delivery

Shipment Status:

• On time

• Delayed

Outbound Processing

Using RFID automation, outbound goods business

processes provide these advantages:

• Automated hands-free goods issue and loading

confirmation.

• Verification of goods issued, with fulfillment

requirements provided by the delivery documents—

thus providing automated real-time quality control.

• Near real-time information sharing of pallet and

case-level EPC information with channel partners for

supply chain visibility.

10 Vendor Check and Receive Goods Scan IDs Check Consistency Post AII Post Goods Receipt Adv.
11 RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

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RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

Scan IDs

Vendor Pick
Vendor
Pick
Issue Goods (Loading) Build Buyer HU Feedback Update EM
Issue Goods
(Loading)
Build
Buyer
HU
Feedback
Update EM
AII
AII

Advance

Shipment

Notification

or

Produce

SAP EM Post Goods Issue Create HU SAP ERP Delivery Cust. WM order
SAP EM
Post
Goods Issue
Create HU
SAP ERP
Delivery
Cust.
WM
order

Purchase

Order

Create

Event

Handler

Figure 7: Outbound Process with RFID

SAP AII 2.1 also provides a stand-alone, slap-and-ship

outbound processing option for customers to quickly

add RFID without any interface to the back-end ERP.

This allows the user to:

• Start RFID compliance quickly, and later scale and

integrate with the back end

• Commission RFID tags

• Pack cases to a pallet

• Load pallets to containers

RFID for Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

This allows management of enterprise assets. Assets

are tagged using the appropriate RFID tag, which can

be written with the object ID and additional information,

such as: last inspected, next inspection date, lot

number, heat number etc.

SAP provides SAP Mobile Asset Management with

support for RFID reader interfaces. When scanning the

asset RFID tag, related work orders are automatically

found and can be opened. After completion of the work

order, relevant information can be written to the tag.

Returnable Transport Items (RTI)

RTIs are returnable containers such as CHEP™ pallets,

which travel between the supplier and customer in a

continuous cycle. The key benefit of RTI is that it allows

tracking of the status and history of these contained

items. RTI items are often stolen or misplaced—hence

tracking these items will reduce costs. RTI supports

these processes:

• Tag commissioning, packing, unpacking, loading,

unloading and moving

• Multiple hierarchies

• Maintenance of RTI tags while they are

commissioned, recommissioned and

decommissioned

• Event tracking of RTI tags

• Reporting and analytics

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Status of RTI events are closely monitored. Business

analytics can provide status updates, such as number

of empty RTIs available.

Business Intelligence

Besides reading and writing rate quality reports, there

are over 27 standard RFID reports SAP provides,

including:

• Stock situations at different locations

• Stock movement

• Cycle time at different locations

• Current state of RTI objects

Implementing RFID in the SAP World

Design and implementation of an SAP RFID solution

includes these components:

Blueprint phase — After a standard analysis of the

user’s business requirements, a gap analysis needs

to be performed to determine any gaps between

SAP’s latest packaged RFID solution and your

requirements. Development efforts to address these

gaps must be performed.

Hardware setup — Determination is made

regarding the size and installation of hardware

needed to implement the Auto ID Infrastructure (AII),

Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI), and optional Supply

Chain Event Management (SCEM).

Equipment selection and purchase – RFID

readers (fixed and mobile), and encoders/printers

should be selected.

Site survey — Reader placement is determined and

fixed, based on requirements of the sites.

Device management software requirements analysis

Realization — Configuration of Warehouse

Management Systems (WMS) or other SAP modules

and their RFID solutions are based on requirements

and scenarios gathered and defined in the Blueprint

phase. A configuration template for common

processes needs to be developed and used as the

base configuration for each site.

Testing, training and implementation

The complete design, including interfaces,

processes, and data, must be tested. This may

require some specialized designs for each

warehouse. An implementation plan will call

for a pilot site set up, followed by SAP integration

of RFID processes at remaining sites. Training of

users and administrators must be done, and post-

implementation support at sites must be in place

prior to implementation.

Benefits of the SAP RFID Solution

SAP continues to invest in RFID processes to create

value for its customers by providing highly scalable,

end-to-end RFID business plans, which:

• Provide out-of-the-box solutions to comply with

Wal-Mart, DoD and other RFID compliance mandates

• Can be quickly implemented and integrated with

back-end ERP

• Reduce total cost of ownership (TCO)

• Leverage standard SAP NetWeaver components

• Can be scaled and are easy to deploy and expand

• Can be centrally administered

• Support information exchange between partners

• Provide exception-based reporting

• Integrate with SAP Business Intelligence (BI)

• Support controlled ramp-up with continuous

incorporation of new businesses processes.

Summary

RFID systems involve extensive planning and

understanding of different components involved.

This paper’s intent is to give an overview of RFID

components and Class 1 and Gen 2 protocol. The

second part of the paper discusses SAP’s RFID solution

and the benefits of using SAP’s AII solution over a third-

party solution in the SAP world.

12 Status of RTI events are closely monitored. Business analytics can provide status updates, such as
RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

13

RFID: An Introduction and Analysis of Gen 2 and SAP Auto ID Infrastructure

CIBER is an RFID ramp- up partner with SAP.

Our highly specialized teams of RFID experts are

thought leaders in the industry with real-world

execution experience. CIBER SAP RFID success stories

are available.

About CIBER Novasoft’s SAP Practice

CIBER Novasoft focuses on installing and managing

SAP R/3 solutions, including upgrades, enhancements,

optimizations and pre-configured client imple-

mentations. Our areas of expertise include mySAP

Financials, Product Lifecycle Management, Supply

Chain Management, Customer Relationship

Management and Business Intelligence.

We also offer solutions for program management,

project auditing, oversight and earned value analysis,

change management and training, and complete

enterprise architecture consulting.

CIBER Novasoft SAP RFID Applications

CIBER Novasoft is a certified SAP RFID ramp-up partner.

We are an early adopter of SAP’s RFID solution package

and are represented in the Department of Defense

and Retail RFID implementations. We have experience

in both third-party and native SAP RFID solutions. We

deliver solutions that go beyond SAP’s standard RFID

solution package and work closely with SAP to ensure

future upgradeability.

CIBER Novasoft can also assist companies to register

their items with UCCNet’s GLOBALregistry or Transora.

We offer implementation services for both SAP’s native

GLOBALregistry solution and third-party solutions.

Our RFID implementation and hardware services

include:

• RFID assessments and compliance planning

• SAP Auto ID Infrastructure installation and

configuration

• SAP XI installation and configuration

• iWay adaptor installation

• Plug-in/add-on installation for R/3 and ERP

• Third-party solutions for RFID and GLOBALregistry

• Hardware selection and installation

• Device controller development

References Cited

  • 1. “RFID technology: Changing Business Dramatically, Today and Tomorrow,” white paper by SAP, www.sap.com

  • 2. Bhuptani Manish and Moradpour Shahram, RFID Field Guide: Deploying Radio Frequency Identification Systems, Prentice Hall.

  • 3. Sandip Lahiri, RFID Source book, IBM Press.

  • 4. Gino Capone, David Costlow, W.L. (Skip) Genoble, Ph.D, Robert A. Noveck, PhD , The RFID Enabled Warehouse, SAP thought leadership supply chain paper.

Other Sources

“EPC Global Class1 Gen 2 RFID Specification,” white paper by Alien Technology. www.alientechnology.com

• “EPC Gen 2 – What retailers need to know about

RFID for 2005,” white paper by Intermec.

www.intermec.com

• “Managing the EPC generation gap – An overview of EPC generation migration from generation 1 to generation 2 RFID tags,” white paper by Zebra technologies. www.zebra.com

• EPCglobal , EPC™ Radio-Frequency Identity

Protocols, Class-1 Generation-2 UHF RFID Protocol for Communications at 860 MHz – 960 MHz, Version

1.0.9.

• Thomas W. Gruen, Ph.D., Daniels S. Corsten, Dr., Sundar Bhardwaj, Ph.D., Retail Out-of-Stocks:

A Worldwide Examination of Extent, Causes and Consumer Responses.

• Thing Magic , Generation 2: A User Guide.

• Mark Roberti , “EPC Reduces Out of Stock at Wal-Mart,” RFID Journal.

www.rfidjournal.com

Master Guide RFID – Enabled Supply Chain Execution Powered by SAP Netweaver: Using SAP Auto-ID

Infrastructure 2.1, Document version 1.2, March 15, 2005, SAP

14

14

About the Author

Anand Vidhyasekaran CIBER Novasoft Principal Consultant US SAP Practice avidhyasekaran@ciber.com Anand Vidhyasekaran is a Principal Consultant
Anand Vidhyasekaran
CIBER Novasoft
Principal Consultant
US SAP Practice
avidhyasekaran@ciber.com
Anand Vidhyasekaran is
a Principal Consultant at the
U.S. SAP Practice of CIBER
Novasoft. He joined CIBER in

2005 as an RFID integration specialist.

Prior to CIBER, Mr. Vidhyasekaran had worked in the

auto ID industry involving RFID for over ten years.

Following his education in India with a B.E./M.E. degree

in Mechanical and Production Engineering, he studied

at Texas Tech University and received his M.S. in

Industrial Engineering.

Mr. Vidhyasekaran has more than fifteen years of

experience in software development, technical lead,

and project management, including five years of

experience in leading RFID project implementations in

both the commercial and public sectors.

About CIBER

CIBER, Inc. (NYSE: CBR) is a pure-play international

system integration consultancy with superior value-

priced services for both private and government sector

clients. CIBER’s global delivery services are offered

on a project or strategic staffing basis, in both custom

and enterprise resource planning (ERP) package

environments, and across all technology platforms,

operating systems and infrastructures.

Founded in 1974 and headquartered in Greenwood

Village, Colo., the company now serves client

businesses from over 60 U.S. offices, 20 European

offices and four offices in Asia. Operating in 18

countries, with 8,000 employees and annual revenue

of more than $950 million, CIBER and its IT specialists

continuously build and upgrade clients’ systems to

“competitive advantage status.” CIBER is included in

the Russell 2000 Index and the S&P Small Cap 600

Index.

www.ciber.com

14 About the Author Anand Vidhyasekaran CIBER Novasoft Principal Consultant US SAP Practice avidhyasekaran@ciber.com Anand Vidhyasekaran
CIBER, Inc. (NYSE: CBR) is a pure-play international system integration consultancy with superior value-priced services for

CIBER, Inc. (NYSE: CBR) is a pure-play international system integration consultancy with superior value-priced services for both private and government sector clients. CIBER’s global delivery services are offered

on a project or strategic staffing basis, in both custom and enterprise

resource planning (ERP) package environments, and across all technology platforms, operating systems and infrastructures.

Founded in 1974 and headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo., the company now serves client businesses from over 60 U.S. offices, 20 European offices and four offices in Asia. Operating in 18 countries, with 8,000 employees and annual revenue of more than $950 million,

CIBER and its IT specialists continuously build and upgrade clients’ systems to “competitive advantage status.” CIBER is included in the

Russell 2000 Index and the S&P Small Cap 600 Index.

www.ciber.com

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