MRO Magazine

Dedicated R&D lab established to spur RFID industry in Canada

Hamilton, ON -- Cultivating a radio frequency identification (RFID) industry in Canada is the impetus behind a new ...


November 21, 2006
By MRO Magazine


Hamilton, ON — Cultivating a radio frequency identification (RFID) industry in Canada is the impetus behind a new RFID research and development laboratory.

The creation of the McMaster RFID Applications Lab (MRAL) is being led by McMaster University and supported by EPCglobal Canada, Hewlett-Packard, IPICO, RF Code, Deloitte, Sun Microsystems, LRNI, and Ontario Centres of Excellence. MRAL is located at the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ont.

MRAL is the only initiative of its kind in Canada. It provides a hub for applications-oriented RFID research and development between academia and multiple industries, promoting investigation in technology, social policy, commercialization and business process.

“RFID has tremendous growth potential and if Canada is going to reap the benefits it needs to innovate at home and attract talent here,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president, research and international affairs, McMaster University. “This lab provides the opportunity to conduct much-needed forefront research and to support an emergent technology and its applications. It will also develop the necessary expertise and leadership to sustain this growth.”



MRAL is currently working on a pilot project with Hamilton Health Sciences to develop an equipment management system.

“Locating and determining the availability of equipment in large hospitals to ensure they are fully utilized is a challenge,” said William MacLeod, vice-president, research and corporate development, Hamilton Health Sciences. “MRAL is helping us develop a centralized tracking system that will lead to improved patient care, greater efficiency and cost savings. Without MRAL, it is very doubtful we would have been able to undertake this project.”

MRAL is collaborating with private and public sector organizations to provide contract research services, proof-of-concept facilities, advisory services, and student and professional training.

“I would like to congratulate McMaster on establishing this important and innovative RFID Applications Lab. HP believes that RFID is a critical technology to enable organizations to reduce their supply chain costs, improve the accuracy and availability of inventory, and increase security,” said John Keogh, director, RFID & Supply Chain Solutions, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. “With this lab, McMaster is accelerating research and development into new RFID solutions and services that will deliver significant benefits to industries and consumers across Canada. HP Canada is looking forward to collaborating on this effort.”

The total value of the RFID market including systems and services is expected to grow from $2.71 billion in 2006 to $26.23 billion in 2016. RFID is being adopted in industries such as supply chain management, manufacturing, retail, financial services and public health.

“Technology development is only one aspect to ensuring successful RFID implementations,” said Rafik Loutfy, director, Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “MRAL has been specifically designed to also address implications involving commercialization, business process integration, and public policy.”

Four centres at McMaster University are involved in the initiative: Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Dofasco Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, McMaster Centre for Emerging Device Technologies, and the McMaster eBusiness Research Centre.

The idea for establishing MRAL was spawned from the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation (XCEEI) at McMaster. Pankaj Sood, commercialization manager, MRAL, and a graduate of the Master’s program offered through XCEEI, identified the need and pursued it as his enterprise start-up project.

“Some of my colleagues in the program were investigating business startups involving RFID technology,” said Sood. “I began talking to people in the industry and they explained their challenges and what was required to make the RFID industry work in Canada. I saw that in the U.S., academic labs are considered an important part of the RFID ecosystem and act as catalysts to drive some of the growth. I decided there was an opportunity here and have received tremendous support from companies in Canada and from McMaster to get this going.”