SAP, Infineon unveil RFID management system

German business software vendor SAP and chip maker Infineon Technologies have launched a new software management system for connecting RFID (radio frequency identification) hardware and software from multiple vendors, the companies announced Tuesday.

The RFID platform is based on SAP's NetWeaver integration and application server middleware, including the software vendor's Auto-ID Infrastructure and SAP Event Management applications, and on Infineon's You-R Open software, designed to connect readers, smart tags and other RFID devices with back-office software.

The platform aims to help companies speed up deployment of smart-tag systems and reduce the costs of managing both hardware and software components from several suppliers, according to SAP spokesman Roland Edwards. The end-to-end system is geared to manage the entire RFID chain, from tags to applications, including device management.

Infineon -- better known for its chips -- developed software designed to manage the interface between front-end RFID hardware devices and back-end software, according to Edwards. SAP is delivering software designed to take the captured RFID data and "put it into business processes, allowing people to work with this information," he said.

The platform focuses on supply chain management, an area in which several companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and German retailer Metro, are planning extensive RFID technology roll-outs in the coming months, according to Edwards.

It is also an area less subject to data privacy concerns. Hackles from privacy advocates over the use of smart-tags to track products in store shelves and ultimately in shoppers' bags have forced Wal-Mart and Metro, among others, to scale back their ambitious RFID plans.

Last week, SAP issued a call to action for an open public discussion on the benefits and implications of RFID technology, beginning with a meeting of industry representatives in Germany. The company also plans to host RFID panel discussions in conjunction with several key trade events next year, including National Manufacturing Week in Chicago and Cebit in Hanover, Germany.

In addition, SAP plans to establish a SAP Community Web forum this month for customers, partners, vendors and other interested parties to share information on RFID-related issues.

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