Professor’s new book raises the bar code

By Molly Packer

A professor of management at Baylor will release a book today on Radio Frequency Identification called “RFID in the Supply Chain.”

Dr. Pedro Reyes, associate professor of management in the Hankamer School of Business, is known internationally for his research in RFID and has given five symposiums on the topic at Baylor in the past.

Radio Frequency Identification consists of bar codes on products that are read with a radio frequency monitor that helps track and trace objects companies have in supply. One example of how RFID is used in the business world is when companies use bar codes to keep inventory on what is available, helping to prevent products from being out of stock.

The concept of Radio Frequency Identification has been around for decades, but Reyes said it is now starting to gain popularity among more businesses.

“RFID is certainly not new, but it has been flying underneath the business technology radar,” Reyes said. When Reyes first started researching, he said there were only a handful of other researchers on the project. But now the numbers have multiplied about four or five times.

RFID was first used in World War II in Britain’s “Friend or Foe” program, Dr. Pamela Zelbst, assistant professor of management at Sam Houston State University and RFID Research Network member, said. British radar systems could detect the difference between enemy and friendly planes by placing an RFID tag on friendly planes. Sirens would go off when the radar did not pick up the RFID tag of a friendly plane so citizens could find shelter before enemy planes started to bomb. RFID was shelved after the war since it seemed to have lost its practical implications, Zelbst said.

Nowadays, the technology is starting to come back.

Best Buy and Old Navy are popular companies that utilize RFID technology, and even Walmart has started tagging blue jeans with it. “The business can use it without the customer even knowing,” Zelbst said.

As the technology gets cheaper, RFID may become even more widely used.

“The good thing about RFID is it’s so easily integrated with other technology,” Zelbst said. “It has a multitude of uses. RFID is becoming the bar code of the future.”

Reyes is considered one of the top experts on RFID in the world and it was not long before McGraw Hill approached him about writing a book. “I agreed to write the book in late 2007 and I started pretty much after that,” Reyes said.

Dr. Patrick Jaska, professor of business systems and chair of business computer information systems at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, said Reyes’ book will be a useful resource for RFID managers. “It’s going to help them understand the technology better,” Jaska said.

The book is a available at and is priced at $48.35.