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December 2013

Big Data – Are We to Repeat the Past?

RFID. While its roots are generally traced back to World War II, Radio Frequency Identification technology did not find a supply chain toehold until the 1970s when the first patents were issued. That was the same time frame in which the U.S. Government’s Department of Energy asked the Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop a system for tracking nuclear materials. Part of their solution included transponders in trucks and readers at facility gates. Here was RFID in its infancy.

So what’s happened since? In a 2003 article written by a senior consultant specializing in Internet services, he predicted that "bar code’s days are numbered. There’s a new technology in town . . . that is going to be a big part of our future." The operative word here being "future."

Skip to 2012 and an article appears on the website of Supply & Demand Chain Executive with the title: Early Adopters Seeing Biggest Gains from Item-Level RFID. The opening sentence read, "2012 may be a watershed year for radio frequency identification technology . . . ." The next paragraph references input from an Accenture survey and states "adoption of RFID is gaining traction."

Really? Some 40 years after the first patents and 10 years after it was forecasted to be "our future," RFID is just now "gaining traction!"

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First appeared in the November 2013 newsletter of the Aerospace and Defense Forum

The Schwartz Profitibility Group wants to wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014

About the author

Lee Schwartz, Principal and founder of the Schwartz Profitability Group (, is a consultant, author and speaker who has been uncorking operational bottlenecks for manufacturing and distribution companies for almost 13 years, saving them time and money, and boosting their bottom line. His consulting and operational turnaround work helps clients find solutions related to process improvement, supply chain management, inventory control, workflow design and operational performance improvement. Prior to launching his consulting practice, Lee spent over 20 years with manufacturers and distributors, many in senior management positions of CEO and President. Lee can be reached by phone at (310) 450-2628 or by e-mail at

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