The Spanish market for Radio frequency identification (RFID) is developing slowly, although there is a clear interest in exploring new applications. Spanish firms are looking for a solid business case before implementing RFID solutions. Additionally, the lack of a clear major customer mandate to implement RFID is also a retardant factor for many companies.
Nevertheless, there are opportunities for U.S. companies, mainly in the areas of logistics, health services, pharmaceutical industry and security. Furthermore, the ongoing harmonization process of UHF spectrum for RFID uses throughout Europe is expected to boost demand by pan-european users, such as major retailers.
Spain is one of the major industrial economies in the world, but seems to be lagging behind on the adoption process of RFID technology. Spanish companies have high awareness of RFID potential, but are cautiously initiating pilot projects, and only adopting the technology in a limited way.
It is expected that some successful implementations will drive vertical demand, but a key factor for development is missing: demand-pull by key customers, either from the public or private sector, which would provide a clear incentive for suppliers to adopt the technology.
In this report we cover: RFID transponders, RFID readers/writers, RFID contactless smart cards, RFID transponder IC’s, RFID reader IC’s, and RFID-related software and services.
Most pilot projects in Spain are focused on the logistics side, mainly on controlling pallets. There are few Point of Sale (POS) applications. An issue cited by companies is the required investment in IT infrastructure that companies would have to undertake to process all relevant information generated. An additional issue cited as relevant is the potential need to modify current business processes to take full advantage of an RFID implementation.
Some examples of projects or pilots being undertaken in Spain are described below:
The Zaragoza Logistics Center has developed an automatic identification lab in Zaragoza. The objective is to focus on R&D, training and development of RFID solutions for logistics. Zaragoza, best known as the home of the massive Opel España plant, is trying to reinvent itself as a transportation and distribution hub for southwestern Europe.
The Hospital Gregorio Maranon in Madrid, has implemented a pilot project to trace medicines delivered to patients. A second RFID pilot focused on the blood bank is also planned, as well as extension to other hospital services.
Highway toll payment in Spain has designed an interoperable system for tolling application, that allows users to have a single microwave RFID card installed to access most tolls in Spain.
The city council in Malaga will implement in 2009 the SIGTA (Tourist Management Systems), where tourists visiting the city will reveive information on highlights through the use of an RFID bracelet.
The Spanish Postal Service (Correos) has implemented strong investment in RFID since 2005, directed towards furthering its ability to trace mail and packages.
As indicated, the Spanish market is mostly focused on the implementation of limited pilot projects, but the projections are optimistic for the mid-term. Some key vertical markets in Spain that are perceived as having major potential for development of RFID projects are:
• Distribution or warehouse management
• Industrial manufacturing
• Public transportation systems
• Retail / in-store solutions
• Security applications
• Tourism and leisure industry
Other applications which have potential in the Spanish market include:
• Security / access control
• Supply Chain management
• Fixed asset tracking
• Toll collection (the city of Madrid is considering as a mid-term solution for car congestion)
• Transportation / Ticketing
• Baggage handling
Regulatory process/frequency allocation
In Spain, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce has the responsibility to manage the public domain radio electrical spectrum. The 32/2003 General Telecommunications Law announced the creation of a National Agency for Radio Communications (Agencia Estatal de Radiocomunicaciones) that would take over the management role, but it has not been implemented yet.
In regards to Spectrum allocation, on November 15th, 2007 the Spanish Government released an updated version of the table of radio frequency spectrum allocations (Cuadro Nacional de Atribucion de Frecuencias - CNAF). This new table reflects international guidelines and recommendations on the subject, as well as Spanish national interests. It is relevant for U.S. exporters of RFID equipment and services to Spain.
The ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), 302-208 standard, designed to allow RFID readers to use more power and operate in a wider UHF band throughout Europe, was implemented in Spain on June 25, 2008, authorising the use of the 865-868 MHz band for RFID equipment.
The deployment of high frequency RFID networks must be in compliance with the technical parameters expressed in norm UN-129 of the Spanish table of radio frequency spectrum allocations. According to UN-129, RFID equipment can be used at 2446-2454 MHz with a maximum EIRP of 500 mW, without channel or duty cycle restrictions. The technical standard applicable is EN 300 440.
Equipment certification: In EU countries, market entry for wireless products is covered by application of RTTE Directive 1999/5/EC providing for self-declaration of product compliance and recognition across all member states.
The equipment based on these technologies requires compliance with the legislation on restrictions to radio electrical emissions and protective measures against them (RD 1066/2001 and Order CTE/23/2002).
By Jesus Garcia Lozano