Up until now, RFID has been used mostly to tag vehicles, intermodal containers, pallets and cases in supply chains. But over the next few years, it looks like there will be a big rollout of tracking systems that tag items at a much finer level, sometimes down to the package received by the consumer.
Some individual items are already tagged, most notably clothing in retail stores where detecting and preventing shoplifting makes an undeniable business case of one year to payback the investment. But more applications are on the way.
According to a study by Cambridge, UK-based market researcher IDTechEx, pharmaceutical companies that tag every container distributed to pharmacies might expect to see a two- to three-year payback just by detecting counterfeiting.
Other estimated payback times mentioned in the study include: Blood, one year; books in libraries and bookstores, two years; and, beer kegs, one year.