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AAFA to sponsor research in the apparel supply chain
Nov '11
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and GS1 US announced that they will sponsor new research being conducted by the University of Arkansas on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) in the apparel supply chain.

The researchers will seek to measure the benefits that apparel suppliers can achieve through adopting RFID based on Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards. They will quantify effects of EPC-based tracking on improving the suppliers' inventory accuracy, along with the effects on their productivity, costs, and revenues.

“AAFA's mission is to ensure that our members are educated on the key issues that will enhance their competiveness,” said AAFA Special Advisor Mary Howell. “We are proud to support this study so the apparel and footwear industry has a clear road map on how to benefit from the implementation of this technology.

"This study will help to raise awareness about the key touch points in the supply chain where EPC-enabled RFID can increase efficiencies and reduce costs, which in turn will benefit retailers and suppliers so they can remain competitive in the global market.”

The research – titled “Supplier Return on Investment Use Case Data Collection and Analysis” – is the second phase in a three-phase study commonly referred to as the “Many-to-Many study.” It will focus on three supplier use cases identified during Phase I of this research published in January 2011.

“In Phase I of our research, we identified 60 use cases that could benefit from RFID, says David Cromhout, RFID Research Center Lab Director, University of Arkansas. “We know that it is critical for suppliers to be able to quantify both immediate and long-term benefits of RFID-adoption as it expands. In Phase II, we will assess the value of something that has become the primary target for most suppliers; namely, what RFID can do about inventory accuracy, and more specifically, how RFID can assure high accuracy at lower cost.”

“The apparel supply chain is witnessing a transformation, and item-level tagging using EPC-enabled RFID is at the center of this,” says Patrick Javick, vice president of the not-for-profit, supply chain standards organization GS1 US. “The technology has been already proven to increase inventory accuracy, and decrease distribution and labor costs for retailers – now it's time for suppliers to see and understand the same benefits.”

In addition to their funding of these research studies, AAFA and GS1 US are active supporters of the VICS Item Level RFID Initiative (VILRI). The initiative, formed in 2010, is an inter-industry group of retailers, manufacturers, and industry stakeholders with the mission of exploring the benefits that EPC-enabled RFID technology holds for the retail industry.

Research results for the Phase II University of Arkansas supplier study will be published on Jan. 15, 2012. AAFA and GS1 US members will receive preview access to the results during webinars taking place beginning Dec. 14, 2011.

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