CHINA / National

Government pushes logistics development
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-10 08:53

The supervision and tracking of goods and services in China will be enhanced by a government push to develop Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in the country.

RFID technology uses an antenna and transceiver (often combined into one reader) and a transponder (the tag) along with electromagnetic signals to uniquely identify items.

The technology affects the lives of everyone living and working in China, said Zhang Zhiwen from the Department of High-Tech Development and Industrialization, under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

"For example, currently if you post a parcel it seems that it disappears and is out of your control, without knowing how it is going along the way," he said on Friday at the launch of the China RFID Technology and Policy White Book.

However, with the help of an RFID tag, which can be fastened to a parcel, people can follow the parcel at any stage in its journey using a reader or a computer.

China Post is carrying out a pilot project in Shanghai using RFID technology to help people track their parcels, Zhang said.

RFID technology is emerging as an alternative to the bar code, which is currently widely used to identify goods.

The radio frequency technology is more complicated and can store more information about the goods it identifies.

The new white book, which explains China's policy on developing the technology, was jointly compiled by 15 departments under the State Council, including Zhang's ministry.

RFID technology is developing quickly in China and worldwide, Zhang said.

Used with the Internet, RFID can assist in the tracking of goods and information-sharing in a global sense, said Ma Songde, science and technology vice-minister.

Gradually, the technology will be widely used in public security, production management and control, logistics, food and drug management, anti-counterfeiting, and in the management of big events such as the Olympic Games.

"For the Olympic Games, an RFID tag with a visitor's details could be attached to a ticket to guard against false tickets," Zhang said.

In Shanghai, pets can be fitted with RFID tags on their ears or elsewhere on their bodies for their owners to monitor their health, location and other conditions.

As part of a pilot RFID programme in China, the first batch of RFID tags were affixed to the bodies of 1,000 live pigs in Sichuan Province last month to help track epidemics, the website reported.

With a tag in place, the pig's breeding, butchering and distribution can be easily checked.

However, the price of the tags and related monitors is still quite high because research and production costs are expensive.

The cost of an RFID tag ranges from 15 US cents to US$100 depending on its objectives.

The government will provide favourable policies to companies using this technology to encourage them to be more innovative and improve manufacturing, Ma said.

Companies developing RFID technology in China are mostly small and need to co-operate with one another and devote more effort to research, said Yin Hong, assistant of General Manager of Shanghai Zhangjiang (Group) Co Ltd.