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IoT: Internet-of-Things Landscape in Singapore

IoT: Internet-of-Things Landscape in Singapore

14 September 2021

By: Francis D’cruz

1. History of RFID in Singapore

IMDA started a nationwide RFID adoption drive in 2004 amongst key industry players. s RFID is a relatively new technology in Singapore, it is necessary to nurture the requisite capabilities now to support its future growth. To this end, the IDA is working closely with local RFID solution providers, leading MNCs and educational institutes to build manpower, technology, and infrastructural capabilities in RFID.

2. IoT: Internet-of-Things Landscape in Singapore

The early adopters of RFID in Singapore predominately were companies that had larger operational demands to automate and ensure capacity is scalable. Several sectors that adopted gained stronger influence in their eco-system of suppliers, services providers, and clients.

YCH, the leading home-grown logistics company, is using RFID to manage its bonded warehouse to and improve the visibility of goods movement and enhance the efficiency of its operations. In the retail space, Grocery Logistics of Singapore (GLS) the central warehouse and distribution arm of NTUC FairPrice, has commenced a pilot project to implement RFID in its distribution centre. Through more effective tracking of goods, RFID helps to reduce wastage from loss of stock, thereby cutting costs for GLS.

Pre-covid – Singapore, experienced steady growth in RFID solutions in the National Library, ERP toll collection and even Contract Tracing during the SARs outbreak.

With the Covid pandemic moving into an endemic phase, RFID has taken on a pivotal role in providing contactless track and trace of personal and all forms of use cases in businesses.

3. History and Evolution in RFID

RFID, (Radio Frequency Identification Device) has been around since 1943, first used by the military. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be used to quickly identify several tags all at once and without the need for the physical sight of the label, thus reducing time spent on stock management. RFID tags can also hold a lot more information than barcodes and create a more specific identification for items, tracking, monitoring, and storing data. Thanks to their small size, RFID tags have been placed into day-to-day objects such as passports, library books, clothes, and payment cards.

4. The Next Evolution: – The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects, known as, “things” — that are embedded with RTLS (Real-Time Location System), sensors, chips, software, and other technologies that are used for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.

“Things” have evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, RFID, sensors, and embedded systems in operational processes in banking, construction, supply chain, manufacturing, retail and practically every industry.

5. Adoption Rate of RFID in Singapore

In the early days, the cost of RFID projects was prohibitive and only the large companies could deploy it. Specialized equipment predominately Readers, Antennas and RFID tags were a lot of complexity to set up and high in investment. Most of the early adopters of RFID in Singapore would share the long-haul projects and the lack of expertise in delivery that make it less desirable for industry-wide adoption

In 2004, IMDA’s started a nationwide initiative to encourage SMEs and large enterprises to lead the way in the adoption of RFID and complementary solutions. This created the awareness of the huge benefits in streamlining workflows in all types of operational processes in the highly competitive supply chain, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare industry, where resources are limited.

Some key drivers for the adoption of RFID are as follows:

  • Reduced prices of RFID tags and equipment
  • Advances of RFID technology developments
  • Desire to gain competitive advantage
  • Desire to improve process visibility and management
  • Compliance reasons

5. What are the use cases for RFID in Singapore?

RFID in the Pre-covid days were not as vibrant however with the Covid pandemic, it has accelerated the adoption of IoT/RFID based solutions that promote automation in track & trace in all industries.

Pre-Covid was a slow start for RFID / IoT purely because of its lack of use cases in the B2C eco-system which had very few successful projects for most to understand how it could work for them.

Generally, the more pressing areas or sectors where RFID / IoT solutions have been adopted and used well are as follows:

  • RFID for Asset Management
  • RFID for Automotive Tracking in Workshop/Service Centre
  • RFID for Construction
  • RFIF for Intelligent Transport – Multi-Lane-Free-Flowing
  • RFID for Inventory & Warehouse Management
  • RFID for Logistics
  • RFID for Manufacturing & Production
  • RFID for Retail & Inventory Management
  • RFID for Healthcare
  • RFID for Shipping – Pallet, Container, Spares Tracking
  • RFID Tags for all surfaces and multi-purpose


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