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Three years ago, Dow Chemical, the largest chemical company in the world, began a journey to explore the usefulness of RFID to enhance security, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce costs.
When Dow began to explore this new and still maturing technology, it put together a thorough set of processes to facilitate the analysis and adoption of RFID. Additionally, the company decided that RFID and GPS would work well together for track and trace and it included GPS within the scope of its analysis. Dow began by putting together a core project management team with representation from eBusiness, its IT Architecture group, members who were active in the RFID industry group EPCglobal, and Communications. One of the program management team's deliverables was to identify Generation 1 projects that should be tackled first in the company's 10-year journey to explore and deploy RFID.
Dow has a concept it calls Most Effective Technology (MET). The idea is that certain technologies lend themselves only to certain sites and/or certain fairly small processes, while other technologies work so well, they should be used across the corporation. Dow is also well known as an advanced user of Six Sigma processes. The company applied these processes to determine which RFID projects to tackle in Generation 1.
Businesses within Dow are understandably not anxious to deploy new or bleeding-edge technologies. To overcome this resistance, Dow employs Expertise Center funding to explore less established technologies. The Expertise Center is used to fund the proof of concept, a pilot, and a first implementation. They may partially fund a certain number of implementations after that. At some point, however, when the bugs are worked out and the technology has proven itself, businesses must pick up the cost of subsequent implementations.
Based on this comprehensive process, Dow determined that RFID in combination with GPS qualified as a technology that should be standardized and leveraged across the entire company to globally track containers, cylinders, tank trucks, rail cars, and marine cargo.
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