Pros and Cons of RFID Technology

I. RFID Advantages

Radio Frequency Identification provides a valuable service that is capable of revolutionizing the way companies track products. There are many benefactors of this technology: the military, retailers, suppliers, consulting firms, producers of the technology, and consumers. RFID provides companies with a better alternative to bar-coding because no line-of-sight is needed to read a pallet, a carton, or a product with a RFID tag. RFID tags also contain information on the product that is easily readable and accessible for the reader. RFID will also begin to automate company’s supply chain, reducing labor costs, human error and time spent checking in products.

In 2005, manufacturers and suppliers requesting new bids from the military must be RFID compliant on four different levels: packaged operational rations, clothing, tools, and weapon system repair parts and components. The military requires that all cartons and pallets are shipped with a Military Shipping Label which displays shipping data. The Department of Defense has created the RFID Military Compliance Solution as a way to help suppliers and manufacturers meet the military’s new standards for RFID. The program is run by Avery Dennison Retail Information Services, and they were commissioned by the RFID Military Compliance Solution. Avery Dennison Retail Information Services sells the RFID tags to companies which must be affixed close to the Military Shipping Labels to comply with Department of Defense regulations.

The U.S. military is saving an enormous amount of money by using active and passive RFID systems. By using RFID for communication and transportation systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is able to diagnose and fix problems much faster than before. The implementation of RFID in just this area will save the military close to half a million dollars this year. The U.S. government has contracted IBM to do research on the current RFID being used currently in the military and the potential future applications for RFID in the military. The military has been successful in creating better visibility throughout their supply chain increasing their productivity and stability.

Retailers and other companies that have a demanding supply chain can gain an advantage on the field by using RFID in the supply chain. By demanding that all levels of their supply chain be RFID capable is a sizable investment. The productivity increase that follows the initial investment and implementation for companies will pay for their investment. Wal-Mart was the first retailer to use RFID in their distribution centers and warehouses, prompting many companies to follow in their footsteps once Wal-Mart’s success was realized.

RFID is very successful with retail companies because it improves productivity, saves on human labor costs, and gives companies real-time visibility with all their products. RFID tags use an Electronic Product Code (EPC) which is an upgrade and a replacement for the Universal Product Code (UPC) system. “EPC has a 96-bit code that has digits to identify the manufacturer, product category and the individual item. Manufacturers obtain registration numbers & assign them to products. Each number is unique to a given item.”

The cost of a tag is anywhere between twenty-five to fifty cents. In the next five to ten years it could be reduced to five cents per tag. At some point in the near future tags could fall to one cent tempting companies to use RFID tags on every product in a store. Wal-Mart says that since their stores now have RFID, it makes it easier to keep store shelves stocked allowing employees to interact with customers.

Target was able to save on their investment for implementing RFID, following in Wal-Mart’s footsteps as Wal-Mart had already paved the way and suffered the pitfalls of implementing a new technology. In addition to the lower implementation costs, many of Target’s suppliers had already begun preparing for the switch over to RFID assuming Target would follow Wal-Mart. Target as a large retailer knows how important it is to be able to provide real-time data on pallets, cartons and shipments up and down-stream through their supply chain.

A break-through in RFID technology was made by Intermec, Inc. in May of 2006, with new rugged and reusable RFID tags. These tags can be written thousands of times; it can handle hazardous chemical exposure, and withstands temperatures from -50 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In October of 2006, Intermec released a new version of the rugged, reusable RFID tag, including wide-band antenna that can be used on any surface in any part of the world.

RFID makes the business world seem like a smaller place, even companies like Wal-Mart who are very big and have a large integrated supply chain. RFID enables companies to be more efficient with their time and space. Companies that combine some newer supply chain technologies with RFID could see great results. Combining auto-picking with RFID would reduce man-power needed, time needed to move pallets and cartons around a warehouse, and time needed to send pallets to their proper destination. The goal of a company’s supply chain should be to reduce time needed to be productive, by automating as much of the supply chain as possible. It reduces human error, and machines are capable of running twenty-four hours a day and cost less than human labor. The

application of RFID for a large company like Wal-Mart or Target, as well as smaller retail stores can ensure a better shopping experience with more in-stock items and a more knowledgeable store.

The RFID market is booming and many technological companies have gotten in the game producing RFID parts and systems. In many cases being a producer of RFID components and systems also allows you to become a consulting firm for the technology. Hewlett Packard (HP) is one of the largest companies developing RFID systems. HP’s goal is to make it as easy and affordable as possible for a company adopting RFID technology. HP has experience in the RFID field, as they were one of the early adopters of the technology and have been very successful integrating it into their business. HP began with two larger clients, Hasbro (produces children’s toys) and Conros (a large Wal-Mart supplier). Hewlett Packard has created two RFID Centers for Excellence, one in California and one in Taiwan, to demonstrate new potential uses for the technology, as well as how it can be implemented into a business. More centers are slated to be opened throughout the world, including Great Britain, Singapore, and Tokyo RFID Centers for Excellence.

The RFID market sits at roughly one billion dollars in 2006 and has varying estimates as to the growth potential of the market. Estimates of RFID market size in 2008 vary anywhere from $1.3 billion by IDC, to $4.2 Billion by the Yankee Group. As shown in Figure 1 in the appendix, most of the industry is made up of sales of hardware, tags, readers and other physical products of RFID. Roughly 20-25% of the market is made up of consulting work for the technology and the last 5% is made up of software for RFID. The two biggest areas firms are concentrating on are the production and consulting sides of RFID.

The biggest challenges for producers and consultants alike are the reliability and durability of RFID systems and products. It is hard to simulate the wear and tear a product will experience over time. HP has made testing RFID products one of their benchmarks, providing intense field-testing of RFID to ensure its durability and quality. A competitor of HP is IBM, who according to AMR Research is the market leader in RFID. IBM has over eleven years experience working with RFID, and like HP, they were an early adopter of RFID technology. The advantage that IBM has over HP is there world-renowned consulting services, coupled with their immense networking capabilities. IBM’s services promise more results than HP’s RFID systems mainly because of IBM’s consulting expertise. IBM works with companies to locate the best avenues to implement RFID, attempting to maximize Return on Investment (ROI) by reducing one person per shift from manually tracking products allowing them to focus on value-added manufacturing activities. IBM also focuses on other ways to improve ROI including, offering a one-time savings of $230,000 in operating costs, continuous fabrication line operations, better customer service providing real-time information on products, and less errors and delays cause by human error.

RFID began to take off once companies like Wal-Mart and Target, and the U.S. military demanded that their top 100 suppliers must adopt RFID technology. Many suppliers were not ready for a move like this, a move that would completely retrofit their current operations at a high cost to the supplier. There were some suppliers that welcomed the change in technology and already began implementing RFID in anticipation of Wal-Mart and the U.S. military’s demand that their suppliers adopt the new technology. Wal-Mart demanded that their top one hundred suppliers would need to be RFID ready by January 2005, and to Wal-Mart’s surprise, twenty three extra suppliers have volunteered to make the change to RFID. There is a new generation of tags that hit the market in 2005, called the Gen 2 Standard, which make RFID more appealing to suppliers who have no RFID systems in place. The Gen 2 RFID improves on the first generation of RFID by increasing read times, increasing read ranges, and read tags more accurately.

Suppliers and manufacturers will notice the benefits of implementing RFID into their organizations streamlining parts of their operations. Return on Investment is the most important factor for a business implementing RFID. Suppliers will see their ROI increase as human labor hours are decreased, human errors are decreased and interoperability is increased. RFID increases the visibility of the suppliers so they can do their job in real time, assuring that the correct package is sent to the correct location. It also saves money in the long-term for manufacturers and suppliers because RFID will save time spent inventorying and tracking products. An advantage for suppliers and manufacturers using RFID is customization of products in a shorter period of time. Smaller suppliers and manufacturers will have a harder time implementing RFID, as costs range from $100,000 to $5 million to implement the technology, but as costs go down more companies will adopt RFID.

RFID does have another potential benefit for suppliers that could give them invaluable information. For Wal-Mart suppliers, readers are set up at the back door so suppliers know when their shipments have arrived increasing visibility for both entities. A second reader is placed at the entrance to the sales floor so the supplier can see what is on-hand on the sales floor and in the stock room. This will allow the supplier to see which products sell better than others so that they can be replaced, and it also allows the supplier to develop more accurate sales forecasts. A secondary benefit of RFID is that the promotions that merchandisers spend a lot of money to set up are often left in the stock room for too long or are improperly placed. Now merchandisers and vendors can make sure their promotions are being handled correctly. Suppliers and manufacturers have the potential to save money on production costs, while making money on customized products.

Consumers should be the ultimate winner with RFID being implemented throughout a company’s supply chain. In the long-run, stores will save money throughout their supply chain, thus bringing down costs to consumers. Consumers should also expect to find more helpful and more informative customers service with companies that have RFID. These companies now have real-time data to share with the customer. A consumer complaint about retail stores has always been that there are too many out-of-stock items; however, with RFID in place many of these stores should see a significant decrease in out-of-stock items. Having RFID tags on certain products can also make people’s lives much easier, such as a microwave that is a reader and recognizes the tag of the food you put in and will automatically cook it according to the directions on the tag. It also helps environmentally because companies will use resources more efficiently, benefiting everyone. Once RFID tags are able to be used on food products it will make a recall on a certain item much easier and it could potentially save lives.

Consumers use RFID everyday and many do not realize the benefits they are receiving from the technology. Contactless payment is a developing technology, the card being used contains a tag and the payment area contains a reader. Mobil and Exxon use a “Speedpass” as their contactless form of payment allowing customers to wave the card in front of a reader to pay for gas or anything in the convenient store. Visa and Mastercard are the two biggest developers of this technology, claiming that it will benefit everyone from consumers to businesses. It allows people to have preset money on a card (either debit or credit) which decreases waiting time at check-out stands and increases loyalty to companies that offer this feature. Another use of smart cards is keyless entries, which is becoming a popular trend in America, using just a card and swipe it over the sensor to allow entry. RFID is a beneficial technology for consumers saving time and offering conveniences traditional bar codes, credit cards and keys cannot offer.

RFID contains many advantages over traditional ways of coding pallets, boxes and products. It allows for non-line of sight reading of the tag which stores all the product information. RFID reduces human labor costs and human errors through the supply chain saving companies money, as well as reducing theft in the store and warehouses. RFID can save lives as well if there is a recall and the recalled food item or product is tagged, then it would be easier to collect all the units.

II. Disadvantages

Radio Frequency Identification has been around for over fifty years, but it has been the rapid development and deployment of the technology over the last five years that has raised people’s awareness and understanding of the technology. While there are many potential benefits for RFID, there are many pitfalls as well. Every level that could benefit from RFID can also reap negative rewards from the technology.

The U.S. military was one of the early adopters of the technology using it for over ten years in a limited area of their operations. In 2003 they upgraded their usage of the technology by demanding that all suppliers must affix a RFID tag to every pallet, carton and big-ticket item being shipped to the military. The biggest problem the military faces is an issue of security. With complete product information on a tag it is easy for an enemy of the United States to pull information off a tag. This could result in loss of life of U.S. soldiers or even U.S. civilians if the wrong product ended up in the wrong hands. The tags could inform enemies of potential weaknesses and strengths of our military and give them a view on how to attack us at our weakest points.

Large companies like Wal-Mart and Target who use RFID face many potential problems with the technology. RFID has no proven infrastructure making it difficult for suppliers to keep up with these company’s demands to become RFID-ready. If the suppliers cannot effectively implement RFID into their business, then retailers cannot fully view their supply chain. If retailers cannot get all their information in real time across their entire supply chain, then the issues they are trying to solve will remain problems. Out-of-stock items, first-in-first-out products and last-in-last out products will still cause problems for these large retailers.

EPCGlobal is a start to an international standards body for RFID. It has yet to be approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and there is still not a global frequency standard. While 900 MHz appears to be the best frequency due to its long read-range capability, 13.56 MHz is still used delaying the standardization of global frequency for RFID. High costs of RFID implementation is the reason many mid-size and smaller retailers have not adopted the technology. The short-term outlook for companies who use RFID isn’t impressive, although long-term benefits will be realized.

Privacy issues are the number one pitfall for RFID and retailers. As long as the tags are only affixed to pallets and cartons then the retailers would not have any specific information on the consumer. However, when RFID tag prices fall, companies like Wal-Mart and Target plan on using RFID tags on individual products which they can trace consumer’s buying habits and other information consumer’s wish to keep private. It was privacy issues that force Benetton to cease their pilot RFID system. They wanted to embed a tag in articles of clothing to stop theft, determine consumer buying habits and keep their inventory at an acceptable level. Privacy advocate groups such as the Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion (CASPIAN) fight companies using RFID to track consumer behavior. A study showed that up to 78% of America was against RFID based solely on privacy issues. It will be difficult for companies in the future to tag individual items without a public outcry without some form of protection for the public’s privacy rights.

Consumers have the largest disadvantage of any other entities involved with RFID technology. There are five privacy issues that consumers must try to protect themselves from: Hidden placement of tags, unique identifiers for objects worldwide, massive data aggregation, hidden readers, and individual tracking and profiling. Hidden placement of tags by companies is an easy way to get information from consumers. The consumer will feel safe buying a product with no knowledge of an RFID tag embedded in their clothing. These tags theoretically could track a person around the world if there were readers in specific locations throughout the world. Personal information may also be embedded in these tags giving information as detailed as your medical history. Prada and Swatch use embedded tags in their clothing, and Benetton did as well, but a boycott of Benetton was successful and they removed their tags. There is no law against companies embedding tags, and only California and Utah have made official requests to change the situation.

Companies who use RFID can compile massive amounts of data on consumers, including product likes or dislikes, buying power or even prescription history. RFID makes it easy to amass this data and to designate correlations. If a corporation owns many stores they can combine data between companies and create new data on buying habits.

Hidden readers violate people’s privacy much the same way hidden tags do. Gillette and Accenture are introducing “silent commerce” which embeds tags on people’s products and readers in strategic locations without the consumer’s knowledge. These companies have experimented with different reader locations ranging from secret carpet locations to shelve locations and even hidden in floor tiles. Readers could even be installed in doorways on street lights, anywhere that people have to pass through, and instantly all information embedded in the tag is broadcast to the reader. If this were to happen privacy would be impossible because you would never know if the products you have contain tags, and you never know when you are within proximity to a reader.

The disadvantages of RFID hinge mainly on privacy concerns, technological imperfections, cost of the technology and no proven way to set up an RFID system for a company. The government and corporations are the two groups that offer the most concern for privacy issues. Hidden tags and readers threaten to take away human mystery, offering a world where people see, feel and hear only what the government and large corporation want people to.

III. Future of RFID

The future of RFID is uncertain, however, the technology is here to stay. Companies have many obstacles to overcome to make the technology a feasible option to be implemented. Privacy issues and will persist, although cost for RFID systems will decrease. In order for RFID to be successful, companies must work with privacy advocate groups to develop a fair way to implement RFID without alienating their customers.

Technology will continue to develop for RFID and many new applications will be realized. Automation will be a side-effect of RFID development, in the supply chain and in everyday activities. Contactless payment methods are already available, as well as automatic keycards to open doors. RFID tags installed in cars with readers on the roads and freeways will alert the authority if you are breaking the law. Supermarkets will eventually be able to realize their shopping cart checkout system once prices fall to a more affordable price. Fresh foods, metals and liquids will all be RFID compatible in the near future. If privacy issues are not watched closely, people will become tagged and there will always be someone watching and analyzing every person’s decisions.

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Trailmobile Trailers History

The history of Trailmobile trailers extends back to the end of the nineteenth century. While the brand has been owned under many different companies, it has always been a name that stood for rugged engineering and forward looking innovation. This Trailmobile history will give you an idea of its past, as well as the recent difficulties and rebirth under the ownership of Manac.

Precursor to Trailmobile

The Trailmobile Company can trace its roots back to the time of horse drawn carriages and vehicles. A man by the name of Daniel M. Sechler worked as a carriage maker in the 1840’s and started a couple carriage shops between that time and 1879 when he incorporated Sechler and Company. They quickly became one of the largest manufacturers of carriages in the world. By the end of the century motorized vehicles had begun to be developed, and the company needed to consider a new direction for growth. It was an employee named John Endebrock who realized that there was a future in trailers for the new cars and trucks that were being invented. In 1915, they introduced their trailer as the Trailmobile, which was meant to trail behind an automobile, and changed their name to The Trailmobile Company.

Invention of the Fifth Wheel

One of the great innovations that came from Trailmobile was the fifth wheel engineering for easy coupling and uncoupling of the trailer from the vehicle. This concept was patented in 1919 after several years of Endebrock searching for an easier solution to attach and disengage the semi trailer, similar to how train cars were locked together and then easily separated. Before this invention it took three men and jacks to unhook the trailer. After the introduction of the fifth wheel design, which has changed very little to this day, one man could complete the task.

Trailmobile Grows and Changes

The first and second world wars required Trailmobile to manufacture thousands of specialized trailers to meet the military needs of that time. It also established the Trailmobile brand as a trusted builder of quality trailers. Between the two wars and in the years after the company merged with other trucking manufacturers and was sold to different corporations. The name was changed for several years and then changed back in 1944 due to the respected name Trailmobile had developed over the years. Eventually the company came to be known as Trailmobile Canada Limited in the 1990’s.

The Recession Hits

The tough economic times created by a massive recession which began around 2007 had a big impact on the trucking and shipping industries. Trailmobile Canada Limited was not able to weather the storm and was forced to final bankruptcy in 2009. Manac purchased the assets of the company to broaden its number of commercial trailer offerings, and recently the Trailmobile brand has been resurrected with Manac Inc.’s reintroduction of the Trailmobile UltraPlate.

Despite its many changes over more than 100 years, Trailmobile still stands for quality construction and innovation in tractor trailers and dry vans. We hope you have enjoyed this history of Trailmobile trailers.

Video Killed the Beautiful View

“The sound brought our group to a stop; we turned around to see the ice mass collapse with a roar. A section of the glacier crumbled in the middle, and chunks of ice as big as rooms spilled out on the crater floor.”

A description given by adventurer Vince Keipper as he summitted the top of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and looked back. The fact is, the beautiful glaciers which give Mount Kilimanjaro its distinct appearance are disappearing at an alarming rate. Legendary author, Ernest Hemingway once used the following description to illustrate those 12,000 year old legendary peaks, “as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun”, but, few can say that now. Those very glaciers have lost 82 percent of their ice since 1912, and at the current rate of erosion, they will be ancient history by the year 2020. This is only one example of the devastating affect global warming is having on our environment.

So what does all of this have to do with technology? …..A lot!

Rapid technological change, low initial cost and even planned obsolescence have resulted in a high rate of turnover for network hardware appliances, creating a fast growing problem around the globe. IT manufacturers with financial incentives are brilliant at encouraging customers to buy the next iteration of their product, even if the existing one still works. The short lifespan of today’s IT equipment such as, de-installed routers and network switches from manufacturers such as Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Foundry and Extreme are contributing to a new form of scenery like, mountains of e-waste. Accumulated e-waste is either dumped in landfill sites or recycled in the secondary market. They are often processed in poorly managed facilities, in developing countries, leading to significant health risks and causing a major negative impact on the environment.

Did you know that chemicals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium emitted from discarded electronics are some of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases worldwide? A typical router or switch may contain more than 2% lead by weight, and up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements. A 24kg PC or server from manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Sun and IBM needs at least 240kg of fossil fuels and 22kg of chemicals to provide its energy. Compare this with cars or refrigerators, which use only between one and two times their weight in fossil fuels. Furthermore, The UN warns that people could be exposed to health risks at both ends of the short lifespan of networking equipment. Chemicals such as brominated, flame retardants and heavy metals including lead and cadmium pose potential risks to factory workers and can also contaminate water supplies near landfill sites where old computers are dumped.

Due to lower environmental standards and working conditions in China, India, Kenya, and elsewhere, electronic waste is being sent to these countries for processing – in most cases illegally. The majority of defunct and junked e-waste ends up being broken down by ill-equipped laborers in hazardous conditions. Uncontrolled burning and disposal are causing environmental and health problems due to the methods of processing the waste. Slowly, these disposal methods emit harmful gases which deplete our atmosphere and have emerged as a major contributor to global warming.

Each year, more than 130 million computers are produced worldwide. In the United States alone, an estimated 14 to 20 million PCs and network appliances are thrown out each year, while developing nations are expected to triple their output of all electronic waste by 2010. By 2005, more than 250 million personal computers will become obsolete. This is evidenced by the average lifespan of PCs, which is falling from 4.5 years in 1992 to an estimated 2 years in 2005. Across the European Union, electrical equipment is the fastest growing category of rubbish, with around 20kg per person produced every year, and, “the UK alone is now generating around 1m tons of the stuff every year,” said energy minister Malcolm Wicks.

If you do the math, it is clear, that the current trend of mass production with no regard for corporate social responsibility cannot continue. If we continue at our current rate of consumption, our children can look forwards to inheriting a world with blistering temperatures, severe storms, and 13 of the world’s 15 largest cities submerged by seawater. Imagine a complete loss of coral reefs, the disappearance of Pacific islands, the extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals, contamination of fresh water supplies and more than a hundred million refugees. Those of us who have not been living under a rock have, no doubt, already noticed a drastic change in the last 2 years alone.

It is no coincidence that 2005 brought the onslaught of the deadliest hurricane season on record, climaxing on Monday, 29 August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina careened into the Gulf Coast, putting 80% of New Orleans under water, resulting in the nation’s most costly natural disaster ever recorded. Katrina claimed more than 1,600 lives, destroyed 200,000 Gulf Coast homes, and displaced about 1 million people. But, that is nothing compared to the devastation and loss of life experienced just one year prior, when on December, 26th the deadliest tsunami in history pummeled the coast of Southern Asia, and shocked the world with a reported death toll at more than 300,000 people. Most recently, and fortunately, less costly than the previous examples cited, are recent reports about the 2006/2007 winter being the warmest and driest on record.

How many more weather related records do we need to break before we wake up? How many more people need to lose their lives through violent weather changes? Global warming is real, and we can not continue looking the other way. It is because of this lack of awareness that environmental impact is seldom a major factor in corporate buying decision. However, the consumption culture as we know it, is about to drastically change.

This information is not intended to scare you, but rather to serve as evidence to the changing world around us. Human beings are a robust species, and historically we have always adjusted to survive. We need to acknowledge the signs around us and react before it’s too late. For years now, the United Nations and Greenpeace have been warning of the dangers that computers, IT hardware and other office equipment pose to the environment. This change will begin with awareness, and ultimately result in a radical new green ideology.

The days when businesses could send a product into the marketplace without first considering how it might impact the environment are over. Global recycling and product recovery programs, where businesses take responsibility for what they make and sell are already under way worldwide.

Soon, green legislation will have an impact on every manufacturer in the world. “Not far from now, ‘non-green’ parts will be assigned end of life status and green legislation will come to impact every single PC manufacturer,” said Mike Escherich, the principal research analyst at Gartner (leading information and technology research and advisory firm). “The worldwide market should expect to see longer lead times, part shortages and rising prices for non-compliant parts over the next two years. These costs will probably be passed on to consumers. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that it could add about £30 to the price of a new PC in Europe. A small price to pay for our future generations well being.

After many delays, The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations governing the safe disposal of IT equipment were finally passed into law in the European Union, confirming that the new legislation will come into full effect in July of 2007. The law will place a greater administrative burden on suppliers of computer equipment. They will have to register with waste schemes and more closely track their products in order to pay for their disposal. Under the new law, manufacturers will have until March, 15th 2007 to register with approved disposal schemes, and by 1 April all new equipment will have to be marked with WEEE labels displaying a crossed out wheelie bin and date code. The directive will then come into full effect on 1 July, with producers taking responsibility for treating and recycling household and business WEEE.

The first of its kind, but certainty not the last, this pioneering green computer law, is setting the stage for the future. Similar laws and regulations are being considered now in the United States. Congress is debating a number of electronic waste bills including the National Computer Recycling Act introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA). This bill has continually stalled, however. In the meantime, several states have passed their own laws regarding electronic waste management. California was the first state to enact such legislation, followed by Maryland, Maine, and Washington. It is only a matter of time until general ethics evolve to include electronic waste disposal. For our children, the idea of throwing an old monitor in the dumpster will be as unsettling as it is form some of us to throw trash on the floor.

Several new businesses have emerged to meet this new demand, and help companies comply with the new legislation outlines for approved disposal schemes. One such company was recently established by the CEO of Digital Warehouse and UsedCisco.com, Joe Asady. The new business is called, Network Recycler.com. “Our model is to help protect the environment by providing a system and environmentally friendly way of disposing of end of life network equipment” said Mr. Asady. He then enthusiastically elaborated on his concept, “NetworkRecycler.com will be your single source recycling service provider. We can help you stay in compliance with government regulations by properly disposing of your obsolete and excess network and communication equipment”. NetworkRecycler.com has opened offices in New York, Amsterdam and Bangalore, India to help meet the growing worldwide demand for recycling network hardware. Everyone at the newly established business is very excited about the recent ideological changes sweeping Europe, and soon to reach the United States. Mr. Asady described his team as enthusiastic and optimistic, “people here are excited about making a difference, and it is really nice to be a part of something that is helping protect the world we live in”. Several other similar companies are forming worldwide, and soon, an entirely new industry will emerge from the concept of E-waste recycling.

Mr. Asady’s vision does not end there. As the CEO of both Digital Warehouse and UsedCisco.com he has been protecting the environment since 1998. Both businesses fore mentioned are major players in the global secondary market for used network hardware. Facilitated by the new awareness for computer recycling, an already, $3 billion dollar used network hardware industry is poised to grow considerably in the upcoming years. “Traditionally, people would shy away from used equipment because of the inherent risk that it presented”, Claimed Mr. Asady. “However, with current competition in the secondary market we have raised our quality standards. We now provide guarantee’s that outlast even the original warranty given when the unit was new”.

Used network equipment is often renovated by various resellers such as Digital Warehouse. Afterwards, they are sold in the secondary market at up to 90% off of list price. Products are available even in the most sophisticated and obscure models, and when they come with a warranty that supersedes even that of the original manufacturer customers are often jubilated with the value. Not to mention, when they buy used equipment they are also helping to eliminate e-waste and protect our environment.

One in every dozen computers used worldwide is a “secondary computer,” and about 152.5 million used systems were shipped in 2004, according to a study released Wednesday by market research firm Gartner. Gartner also said that both the home and professional markets for secondary PCs will continue to see growth in the next several years, fueled by better computer performance, longer system life, and recent recycling legislation that gives companies a greater incentive to sell their used machines. I am sure Mr. Asady and his team will have their hands full in the coming years with the recent explosion of wealth and opportunity in places like India and China. Through recent advances in technology, coupled with complex new economic foreign policies abroad, developing countries are much more likely to accept used hardware as a viable technology option because of the savings they afford.

To put this all into perspective, I want to cite the following example: When Henry Ford invented the automobile, the world was transformed by its speed and convenience, but few people considered what millions of automobiles might mean for the world’s energy supply and climate a century down the road. Hopefully, we can learn from the lessons of our ancestors during the industrial revolution, and preemptively react for the current computer revolution sweeping our planet. The days when businesses could send a product into the marketplace without first considering how it might impact the environment are over. Global recycling and product recovery programs, where businesses take responsibility for what they make and sell, require little effort on the part of consumers, and they pay off!

Whether you are an IT manager, global CEO or a mere home PC user, the implications are the same. E-waste is a problem, e-waste is real! Although we are taking some steps in the right direction, a lot more needs to be considered. So please, do your share to get involved with e-waste awareness, help efforts to reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions and start to consider the secondary market as a viable alternative to purchasing new equipment. Most importantly, help spread the word!!

The Core Components of a Marketing System!

The core marketing system of a company comprises the suppliers, company, marketing intermediaries and target customers. The success of the company is also affected by competitor’s presence and other segments of public. The management has to watch and plan for all these factors to serve and satisfy the specified set of needs of a chosen target market.

  • Supplier selection:

A company has to choose suppliers who offer the best mix of quality, delivery schedule, guarantee and low cost. Say, a firm involved in manufacturing confectioneries has to procure sugar; cocoa, caramel, milk powder etc., Labor, equipment, fuel, electricity and other factors of production are also to be obtained. If the company’s product has a good market, it can opt for continuous production. If it is a growing firm, it cannot go for voluminous production, but only supply goods against confirmed orders. In either case, the choice of suppliers is determined by one major factor called ‘cost’. Of course,one can never compromise on quality and so the company has to decide whether to purchase the inputs or make its own.

The relationship of a company with the suppliers should be of a long-term nature, since any sudden change in the supplier’s environment will have a substantial impact on the company’s marketing operations. Sudden supply shortages, labor strikes and other events can interfere with the fulfillment of delivery promises to customers. This will result in sales decline in the short run and loss of goodwill in the long run. Back orders lead to loss of customers and in course of time their trust. The business firms must plan for alternate source of supply to avoid the risk of over-dependence on any one source of supplier.

  • Company

The marketing department has to work in tandem with the other departments of the company, namely, finance, production, personnel and research and development, while designing and implementing its marketing plans.

Finance department – has to be consulted for the funds available to carry out the marketing plans.

Production department – to gauge market demand and to decide on the supply of products based on demand.

R and D – new product development.

  • Marketing intermediaries:

Channel members are the link between the company and the customers. Agents and middlemen find customers who are wholesalers or retailers to take on the title and sell the merchandise. Also there are physical distribution firms who assist in stocking and moving goods from the warehouse to the destinations. The marketing executives have to deal with these intermediaries prudently in order to enhance the operational efficiency of the marketing function. Logistic firms, shippers and airliners help to move the goods from one location to another.

  • Competitors:

All the business firms in a particular market segment vie for the same resources and customers. A car manufacturing company in an automobile industry has to compete with other car manufacturers as well as with two wheelers. This implies that competition may come in different forms and each company has to identify potential threat from competitors, study their activities and capture their moves to win over the competition.

  • Public

A company has to keep a watch on people’s preferences to satisfy their requirements and also companies are expected to give back something to the society in the form of social welfare measures. People belonging to different culture groups with differing attitudes, lifestyles and tastes have a great impact on a company’s ability to achieve its objectives.

Markets whether homogeneous or heterogeneous must serve the purpose of satisfying the customers by providing more than what is being asked for. This discussion is with relevance to the factors that rule the micro environment of a marketing plan and there are greater forces in the outer environment looming large, say, social, political, legal, environmental and the like, which have to be tactically handled by the management to overcome the challenges and exploit the opportunity.