News from the RFID Lab

Auburn University holds grand opening for its new RFID Lab; announces joint project with Amazon

By: Troy Johnson

RFID Lab Grand Opening

Auburn University's new RFID Lab held its grand opening Wednesday, during which Amazon announced a joint project with Auburn to explore the business case for the implementation of RFID within the Amazon supply chain.

At the event, Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said, "RFID is a fascinating technology. As part of this joint project, we are excited to invent new processes and technology using RFID to enhance the experience for customers through better inventory predictability, faster delivery and, ultimately, lower cost. The collaboration presents a unique opportunity for students, faculty and industry to come together in a hands-on and fast-moving real world environment."

Auburn University's RFID Lab specializes in the business case and technical implementation of radio frequency identification technology in retail, supply chain and manufacturing settings. The lab draws on the expertise of faculty in Auburn University's Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences and College of Agriculture. In moving to Auburn University in 2014, the lab was reunited with its founder, Harbert College of Business Dean Bill Hardgrave. Hardgrave helped launch the lab at the University of Arkansas in 2005.

Even though its location has changed, the lab has continued to work with leading retail, supply chain, manufacturing and technology companies.

"As the RFID industry expands, it's important to have as many users engaged in the lab as possible as lessons from one industry often hold true for others," Auburn University RFID Lab Director Justin Patton said. "Having unique retail partners like Amazon engaged in the lab allows us to focus on the research questions that are most crucial to many different users, and add the academic validation that helps bring maturity to the evolving market."

Amazon has utilized RFID technology in its fulfillment centers, the massive facilities where customer orders are picked from shelves, moved on conveyers and loaded onto trucks for rapid shipping and delivery. Founded in 1994 and based in Seattle, the company's footprint includes more than 100 fulfillment centers worldwide.

Located in a former supermarket, the 13,000-square foot Auburn University RFID Lab offers simulated retail, grocery and convenience store space, as well as warehouse and distribution center environments. The Auburn University RFID Lab established the first RFID "tagged item certification program" to assist retail product manufacturers. RFID technology utilizes computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to aid in the wireless tracking of items.

RFID Lab Grand Opening and Open House

RFID lab open house invitation
RFID lab

Tagged Item Certification

Auburn University's RFID Lab has established the first RFID tagged item certification program to assist retail product manufacturers.

The lab is now issuing certifications for tagged item performance and quality under the new Auburn Tagged Item Certification program. Manufacturers of apparel, cosmetics, grocery items, electronics, jewelry, and other goods can now directly submit their RFID-tagged items to the lab. The lab will issue a certification for their items against basic RFID quality and any and all GS1 TIPP Grades requested by their retail partners.

RFID performance and quality testing has been a staple of the RFID Lab for the last eight years under the ARC program, which pioneered most of the modern testing practices for retail RFID. Auburn's ARC program was recently adapted and published in the GS1 TIPP Item Level Grading System, making the Auburn RFID Lab uniquely qualified to certify retail products using the practices it helped create.

The Auburn RFID Lab has worked with the world's leading retailers, suppliers, and technology providers for more than a decade. The Auburn Lab is the global benchmark for RFID performance, utilized by the majority of RFID-enabled retailers in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as every major RFID tag manufacturer. This new certification program adds retail item manufacturers to this community, and will help support continued innovation for newer and better ways to utilize RFID in retail. For More Information Click Here

RFID Lab's New Home


Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is the use of a wireless system to transmit data from tags on products to a receiver for the purpose of identifying and tracking the product through the supply chain.

The RFID Lab at Auburn University is a research institute focusing on the business case and technical implementation of RFID and other emerging technologies in retail, supply chain, and manufacturing. The RFID Lab is a unique private/academic partnership between major manufacturers and retailers, technology vendors, standards organizations, and cutting edge faculty and researchers from the Harbert College of Business, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Agriculture, and researchers from other universities including the University of Arkansas.

The Lab Facility is a 13,000 sq/ft area modeling factory, distribution center, warehouse, and various different retail stores from grocery and convenience formats to mall apparel and high-end fashion boutiques. The center will focus on the quickly changing face of physical retail stores in the modern era of widely available disruptive technology, and will feature future layouts and shopping experiences.

Tours of the new center will be hosted on a daily basis and are open to any interested parties. Tours will include demos of new retail store innovations and prototypes. University classes and student projects as well as executive education and professional training will be hosted and based in the center.