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DOD to save millions annually by changing Active RFID system

Release #131218-1 posted on Dec 18, 2013
Airmen steer a generator as it is pulled into a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft earlier this year at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.  After Jan. 1, such equipment will bear Active Radio Frequency Identification tags that meet the more widely used international standard at less cost.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

Airmen steer a generator as it is pulled into a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft earlier this year at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. After Jan. 1, such equipment will bear Active Radio Frequency Identification tags that meet the more widely used international standard at less cost. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

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U.S. Transportation Command and its partners have set the stage to save the Department of Defense at least $5 million a year through a major yet mostly transparent change.  By Jan 1, USTRANSCOM, the Defense Logistics Agency and the military services will have completed migrating its Active Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, tags to the“ISO 1800-7” standard.  The aRFID standard establishes how tags and interrogators communicate with each other.

USTRANSCOM is the “DOD lead functional proponent” for automatic identification technology, which includes the aRFID system.  Previously, DOD’s aRFID network operated using the “ANSI 256” standard. 

The reality of ANSI 256 limits became apparent after more than a decade of war in Central Asia. 

“Frankly, we were running out of tags since the ANSI standard has a limited number of unique tag ID numbers,” said Andy Monday, chief of USTRANSCOM’s Logistics Enabling Support Division.  “Even though we emphasize tag reuse, many times the tags were lost or damaged after delivery.  The ISO standard provides virtually unlimited unique tag ID numbers, essential for maintaining in-transit visibility of shipments.”

Turning on the switch to ISO-only brings with it several additional benefits.  ISO 18000-7 has become the global commercial aRFID communication standard and the tags themselves are one-third the cost of the legacy ANSI tags.  Using the ISO standard allows for competition among many aRFID vendors, which leads to a lower price for customers and fewer taxpayer dollars. 

Together, the DOD, USTRANSCOM, the military services, DLA, General Services Administration, NATO, coalition partners, and others have been planning and then changing hardware and software over the past five years to make the switch possible.

“Our aRFID Migration Workgroup formed in 2009 to guide the effort, and by 2010 DLA began using the new ISO tags for its shipments,” said Monday. “ANSI and ISO tags have both been in the system since 2010, but the ANSI tags will no longer be used on shipments after January 1.”

 

 

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