Army kicks off new passive RFID procurement

David Goldman/AP

Tags and readers will be used throughout the Defense Department.

The Army launched a procurement Thursday for passive radio frequency identification tags, readers and software to help the Defense Department track the movement and location of billions of dollars of supplies worldwide.

The new passive RFID contract will serve as a follow-on to the original $75 million contract awarded to CDO Technologies, Code Plus, Lowry Computer Products Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., SYS-TEC Corp. and Odin Technologies in October 2008.

Since 2003, Defense has required suppliers of most parts and commodities to mark their shipments with RFID tags to enable tracking. The department uses two types of tags – battery-powered RFID tags with a range of 150 to 300 feet that monitor the movement of shipping containers into Afghanistan, and unpowered RFID tags affixed to pallets and boxes with a range of 30 feet.

In its passive RFID suppliers guide, Defense says tagging improves inventory management, eliminates duplicate orders, improves asset tracking and labor productivity, and provides for automated receipt and acceptance of shipments.

The Army manages RFID acquisition and technology for the Defense Department. Both the old and new passive RFID contracts serve users in all military branches, as well as other federal agencies and NATO nations.

In the statement of work for the passive RFID II contract, the Army said it wants vendors to supply tags and fixed, handheld and vehicle-mounted readers that operate in the 862-870 MHz and 902-928MHz frequency ranges.

The Army also wants to acquire tag printers and a software suite capable of managing the readers and displaying results.

Industry sources expect the incumbent vendors to bid on the passive RFID II contract. Bids are due July 9.