Rugged devices, RFID and cloud computing join fight against counterfeiting

21 May 2012

The use of rugged mobile devices in production and services industries allied with the cloud and RFID are contributing to major advances in industries from food to pharmaceuticals and fashion beating the threat of counterfeit goods.

Clonmel-based VisionID is joining forces with tech giants Motorola, Microsoft and Zebra Technologies and its independent software vendor partners to study the impact of cloud and mobility on service-based industries at a conference in Dublin.

In particular, the event on 23 May at the Carlton Hotel Dublin Airport will study the availability of rugged smart devices and cloud services that will enable firms in the services business that require electronic proof of delivery and vital data in the field.

“The big buzz in the market at the moment is around smartphones and bring your own device (BYOD) but services businesses realise that what they really need are rugged devices to process and protect data and interact with information in the cloud,” VisionID managing director Robert Jones explained.

According to Jones, smartphones like iPhones and Android devices are being viewed as too fragile for heavy-duty work in warehouses, construction sites or manufacturing facilities and more rugged devices are in demand.

He also said that while cloud computing is beginning to make an impact on the services-based industries, it is still tentative.

“One of our ISV partners provides cloud solutions for the services industry, such as for syncing up electronic proof of delivery and providing a reporting mechanism for service engineers.

“But at this stage it’s early days. Cloud isn’t driving a whole lot of change in the mobility space but in areas companies are using it to take a lot of manual processes out of jobs.”

Field to the fork functionality

But one area where cloud combined with technology will matter is traceability and combining mobility and cloud with RFID to combat counterfeiting and to guarantee safety and quality.

In this way consumers, businesses and law enforcement agencies can guarantee safety from the ‘field to the fork’ in the context of food production, for example.

Pharmaceutical firms have e-pedigree and serialisation systems to ensure unique batch numbers and traceability from end to end.

“There are a number of manufacturing plants around Ireland installing serialisation solutions and countries like France and Turkey are demanding this level of traceability.

“In pharmaceuticals alone they reckon that there are US$75bn worth of counterfeit products being produced each year.

“High-end fashion firms are also looking at RFID as a way of tracing goods and beating the counterfeiters. As a result, our technology is coming to the fore,” Jones said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years