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Wal-Mart Launches RFID Milestone

Wal-Mart Stores achieved a milestone Friday in the use of radio frequency identification tags as cases and pallets marked with the product-tracking devices arrived at seven of the retailers' stories in the Dallas area.

The tagged merchandise from eight consumer product manufacturers arrived at midnight from Wal-Mart's Sanger, Texas, regional distribution center. A total of 21 products were delivered in tagged cases and pallets out of the more than 100,000 products carried in a typical Wal-Mart "supercenter."

While the number may seem small, the debut ushered in a new era in product tracking for the world's largest retailer, which operates 160 distribution centers and more than 3,000 stores.

Last June, Wal-Mart told its 100 largest suppliers that it expected a certain percentage of cases and pallets affixed with RFID tags to arrive at Dallas-area stores starting in January 2005. Since then, 37 additional suppliers have joined the initiative.

The company expects 100 percent accuracy in the information gathered from the electronic devices through readers installed on dock doors and near conveyor belts in its distribution center. The trial launched Friday followed months of preparation between Wal-Mart and suppliers.

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