Pharmaceutical companies seek benefits of RFID

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 June 2005



(2005), "Pharmaceutical companies seek benefits of RFID", Assembly Automation, Vol. 25 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Pharmaceutical companies seek benefits of RFID

Pharmaceutical companies seek benefits of RFID

A recent report from the ARC Advisory Group in the USA has highlighted the pharmaceutical sector as one that will reap huge rewards from the adoption of RFID technology. RFID is seen as the key to helping pharmaceutical companies achieve compliance with increasingly stringent regulations, such as FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and S88. It can provide the track and trace functions essential to the public health chain and also for preventing counterfeiting of drugs. The early applications for the technology are cases and pallets; however, according to the FDA timetable, most item-level pharmaceuticals – up to 12 billion items in the United States – will be targeted for track and trace by 2007 (Plate 2)

Plate 2

The requirement for any drug company exporting to the US to achieve compliance with new FDA 21 CFR Part 11 regulations means that RFID is set to make an impact on the European pharmaceutical market also. This raises cost issues for European companies; although RFID undoubtedly brings many benefits in terms of improved asset management and profitability, the technology is nevertheless expensive, complex and, above all, difficult to integrate into existing manufacturing resource planning systems.

Offsetting these negatives is a recent report revealing that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can provide up to 50 per cent higher return on investment when they are supported by mobile data capture systems such as RFID. However, for companies wishing to take advantage of the new mobile technology, the integration of RFID into their existing IT structure is still a daunting challenge, especially so with older ERP systems.

IDC's Simplitrak Savant Middleware is an effective answer to this problem, providing a gateway between RFID readers and warehouse management and ERP systems.

The Simplitrak middleware is designed specifically for the integration of RFID technology, enabling businesses to achieve genuine bottom line benefits by tracking and tracing goods in real time. It is highly configurable, offering users a graphical user interface with built in controls, alarm and event notification; and provides a scalable open architecture for ease of interfacing to other applications and devices.

Simplitrak introduces an intermediate layer of control, which processes the streamed data from the readers and only passes on that which is essential; preventing overload on the existing IT network. In addition, the gateway also provides a toolset of applications to enable the business to benefit from the introduction of RFID, quickly and easily.

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