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The global market for RFID systems, including tags, in the postal and courier services sector will grow extremely rapidly to be $2.5bn in 2021. It could be much bigger if current efforts to tag individual items gain widespread acceptance. In due course, over one trillion postal items will be tagged yearly, making this the second-largest application of RFID in the world after the retail supply chain.
RFID is an idea whose time has come in postal, courier and high volume light logistics. In the past, RFID has been used for little more than the evaluation of postal performance, using tags in a small percentage of letters, and the tracking of a small number of conveyances and vehicles. No longer. From the International Postal Corporation now monitoring mailflow with RFID in over 50 countries to Saudi Post tagging postal boxes, the big innovations are now happening.
There is even a postal RFID system that completely automates the whole process of mail delivery from accepting the package to classification and dispatching. It has been successfully tested in Korea this year. Korea Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) demonstrated this RFID system in front of representatives from the Ministry of Information and Technology and private sector representatives.
The current postal package unified information system uses barcodes, thus necessitating human effort at every mail center to input mail numbers into the system. This results in inaccuracies during transfer of duties and it delays the mail dispatches. The new RFID system, developed by ETRI of Korea, aims to reduce costs, errors and tedious human intervention. When perfected, it will provide a comprehensive electronic postal system with the potential to maximize mail package process capabilities while minimizing logistics cost. Real-time information automation, impossible with the existing system, is now possible, claims ETRI.
It is difficult to estimate when pervasive RFID tagging of most of the courier and letter post will occur, but RFID-enabled parcels, conveyances, vehicles and trailers are now commonplace, with multiple paybacks often being enjoyed. RFID is enhancing security and safety and removing tedious operations. Swedish Post has a parcel that detects and records tampering using RFID and other innovations abound, including RFID cards controlling driver access to postal vehicles and RFID enabled postal sorting equipment. Little wonder that companies as large as Microsoft have entered the fray. The global potential is illustrated by its decision to offer its first postal systems in Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia.
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