National phone carrier, Telstra, is chasing the lucrative Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) market and developed its first end-to-end customer offering.
The telco, in conjunction with BEA and Cisco Systems, used the prototype RFID system to track individual pallets for CHEP. Telstra principal of convergent solutions, Kevin Larnach, said RFID was a logical extension of its services.
"Telstra has long been involved in letting people communicate with each other and now we see definite future growth in helping machines talk to other machines," he said.
Larnach said the recent trial tied together RFID readers, tags, software, communications, and systems integration to track where pallets were in the CHEP network.
"Pallets are moving around on trucks and sometimes there isn't visibility of who has them. They also have come back to CHEP for repair and reissue," he said. "With RFID technology you know where every pallet is."
Telstra's end-to-end RFID offering is dubbed Adaptive Asset Manager (AAM) and can run over a managed LAN/WAN as well as its Next G network. The telco would begin spruiking the technology to some of its larger clients later this year, Larnach said, with an eye on partners covering the lower end of the market.
"Our initial go-to market will be to a few larger companies we already have relationships with such as Coles, Woolworths and Brambles [which owns CHEP]," he said. "Once we've got that under our belt we'll look to other go-to market models with resellers and partnerships."
Larnach expected lots of channel interest in promoting AAM, from dedicated systems integrators through to businesses involved with any form of returnable container. The solution could be pitched as part of an overall supply chain update, he said. Telstra is currently working with an integrator on a customer project but Larnach declined to provide details.
A recent study conducted by RMIT found even smaller sites would have to invest at least $50,000 to install an RFID system on its premises. Larnach said it would address prohibitive upfront costs through a subscription model.
"A business will be able to get its hands on the RFID readers and associated infrastructure and connectivity with no upfront cost," he said. "They will be subscribed to a plan based on their usage."