Study looks at RFID use in apparel supply chain

by Inside Logistics Online Staff


The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and not-for-profit, supply chain standards organization GS1 US are sponsoring research at the University of Arkansas on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) in the apparel supply chain. The researchers will look at the benefits to apparel suppliers of adopting RFID based on electronic product code (EPC) standards. They will quantify effects of EPC-based tracking on improving the suppliers’ inventory accuracy, along with the effects on their productivity, costs and revenue.

“AAFA’s mission is to ensure that our members are educated on the key issues that will enhance their competiveness,” said AAFA special advisor, Mary Howell. “This study will help to raise awareness about the key touch points in the supply chain where EPC-enabled RFID can increase efficiencies and reduce costs, which in turn will benefit retailers and suppliers so they can remain competitive in the global market.”

The research project—called Supplier Return on Investment Use Case Data Collection and Analysis—is the second phase in a three-phase study known as the many-to-many study. It will focus on three supplier use cases identified during phase one of this research, published in January 2011. That initial phase identified 60 use cases that could benefit from RFID, said David Cromhout, RFID Research Center lab director at the University of Arkansas. “In phase two, we’ll assess the value of something that has become the primary target for most suppliers; namely, what RFID can do about inventory accuracy, and more specifically, how RFID can assure high accuracy at lower cost,” Cromhout said.

Along with funding the research studies, AAFA and GS1 US support the VICS Item Level RFID Initiative (VILRI). The initiative, formed in 2010, is an inter-industry group that explores the benefits of EPC-enabled RFID technology for the retail industry. Research results for phase two of the study will be published in January 2012.