Army awards RFID contracts to six vendors

Vendors view $75 million deal as solidifying the service’s use of tracking technology for its global supply chain.

The Army awarded six contracts worth a total value of $75 million for radio frequency identification in an effort that is viewed as integrating the technology more into the Defense Department global supply network.

Comment on this article in The Forum.The Army Program Manager Joint-Automated Information Technology office awarded (PM J-AIT) three-year contracts to purchase passive RFID products and services, followed by three years of maintenance. The contracts will serve users throughout the Defense Department, the Coast Guard, NATO nations and other unspecified foreign countries.

Defense requires its suppliers to attach passive RFID tags to cases containing their products to better identify the supplies on a pallet, which helps Defense track its billions of dollars' worth of supplies globally. Passive tags, which do not emit a signal until a reader activates them, have a range of about 30 feet. .

Although the RFID contracts have a relatively small dollar value, Patrick Sweeney, chief executive officer of Odin in Dulles, Va., said they are significant because it is the first Defensewide procurement that takes a systemic approach to the deployment and use of RFID technology. Defense's previous RFID procurements focused on acquisition of hardware, but this purchase will provide end users with a turnkey system that incorporates hardware and back-end software and services to integrate RFID readers into the department's global supply network, Sweeney said.

The Army awarded contracts to CDO Technologies, Code Plus, Lowry Computer Products Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., SYS-TEC Corp. and Odin Technologies.

IBM, an Odin partner, will provide its Websphere software to help track supplies as part of the system Odin plans to build, and SRA International and Unisys will provide program management support. Lt. Col. Pat Burden, who heads PM J-AIT said the contracts will help the Army to offer site surveys, installation, integration, and training for turn-key passive RFID deployments.

Odin will provide fixed readers under the contract from Sirit Technologies of Toronto and handheld readers from Intermec. Northrop Grumman AIT Center in Williamsburg, Va., will provide fixed readers from ThingMagic in Cambridge, Mass., and handheld readers from Motorola.

It's the first time Northrop Grumman has served as a prime contractor for a PM J-AIT contract and did so at the request of its small and large industry partners, which include Domino Integrated Solutions Group, which has global asset tracking capabilities, and Onyx Government Services, a service-disabled veteran owned small business, said Sam McClintock, manager of the center.

CDO Technologies, based in Dayton, Ohio, also will provide stationary readers from Sirit and Motorola.