Cisco (CSCO) and Intel (INTC) have announced a collaborative effort to support EPCglobal Hong Kong's EPCnetwork initiative to bring end-to-end supply chain visibility to the Pan Pearl River Delta (PPRD) region.

Building on their technology leadership and expertise, Cisco and Intel are developing Electronic Product Code/ Radio Frequency Identification (EPC/RFID) enabled solutions for EPCglobal Hong Kong's EPCnetwork infrastructure, which will connect manufacturers and logistics companies in the PPRD with retailers worldwide.

The collaboration is one of many programs underpinning the two companies' allied vision of enabling organizations and consumers to improve the way they do business, interact and stay connected through innovative, standards-based solutions.

The EPC is a unique number that identifies a specific item in the supply chain. RFID is a method of storing and remotely retrieving data using small electronic tags that feature a silicon chip and an antenna. The EPC is stored on an RFID tag, which can be attached to or incorporated into a product or an item for shipment. Once the EPC is retrieved from the tag, it can be associated with dynamic data such as where an item originated or the date of its production.

The use of EPC and RFID together makes individual items and their movements throughout the supply chain more visible to all parties, who can use these technologies to retrieve pertinent product data quickly and easily at any time without human intervention or error.

Among other things, this means that ongoing issues in inventory management, shrinkage, fraud and theft that retailers and distributors face can be addressed. For instance, an out-of-stock average of 9 percent for retailers worldwide translates into U.S. $69 billion in lost sales each year, and global counterfeiting adds a further U.S. $305 billion annually. The use of RFID and the adoption of global standards can reduce this loss as it improves visibility for all parties throughout the supply chain network.

With more than 2,400 retail locations in 30 countries, METRO Group is the third-largest retailer in the world and sources a range of products from around the globe.

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