Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been on the rise since its creation 60 years ago. Since then, a total of 3.752 billion RFID tags have been sold worldwide, 27 percent in 2006 alone, which equates to 1.02 billion with 35 percent being RFID cards. That might seem like an impressive number, but some actually predicted higher numbers of sales in the label format. Because these tags require wired-in readers/scanners, this is a potential market for electrical contractors, especially as growth commences.

IDTechEx has interviewed key adopters and providers of the technology and has made predictions for 2007–2017. Its predictions are based on the past trends, and the numbers last year weighed in heavily. In 2006, baggage tagging, retail item tagging, RFID cards and tickets, animal tags, and label and packaging converters were all huge successes. IDTechEx predicts retail item tagging to be one of the fastest growing niches of RFID, and the others will continue on a steady upward trend.

However, there are other niches of RFID that failed to meet expectations in 2006. These include pallet/case tagging and drug tagging. Despite retailer mandates, IDTechEx reports that “companies have yet to realize any significant benefits let alone payback.” Pallet/case tagging only reached about one-third of what it was expected to sell, despite the lowered tag prices announced in late 2005.

Regardless of these failures to meet expectations, IDTechEx predicts the sale of 1.71 billion tags in 2007. The total RFID market value should reach $4.96 billion, according to IDTechEx. The biggest segment will be RFID cards, and even though China controls the RFID card market, IDTechEx expects 58 percent of the world RFID market to be in the United States and 33 percent in Europe. By 2017, IDTechEx predicts the market will make $27.88 billion, which means there will be a more definite source of business for electrical contractors in this market in the future.       EC