RFID Arena


Interview series: 1-ON-1 with Philip Calderbank

The time has come to have a chat with Philip Calderbank, VP Global RFID at SML Group Ltd. Philip knows a great deal about tags and the tagging process of different item categories. He has an extensive background in RFID for the retail market.

Philip and his team at SML Group Ltd. work towards helping retailers in today's fast paced retail environment. Having the right product in the right place and at the right time, will prevent missed sales opportunities. SML's ViziT, an RFID 'item visibility' solution, is developed to ensure just that. Philip emphasises the importance of maintaining on-shelf availability of products at all times. He is also an expert at combating store shrinkage with the help of EAS alarms.

In this interview we wanted to hear Phil's opinions and advice when it comes to choosing the right tags for the right product categories. We also wanted to discuss the tag prices and their relative importance in an RFID project.  


RFID-interest -groups -tag -supplier


What would you describe as the initial push for RFID in your clientele?

Philip: I would say that on-shelf availability is the most important factor for retail. When it comes to the supply chain, the strongest pusher is item visibility.


There are a lot of studies from universities, independent research companies and different vendors. But if you look at it from the point of view of a retailer: What's the excitement in RFID?

Philip: In retail the big focus lies on on-shelf availability. You need to have the right product, in the right place at the right time. In 2013, we will be building the message increasingly around loss prevention. In the supply chain, on the other hand, we will look closer at the auditing of products prior to shipping. We will be focusing on solutions that allow for boxes with mixed items to be scanned and checked prior to shipping.


What forms the price of a converted tag?  Is there a cost factor when the same customer chooses to use different shapes and forms of tags? 

Philip: This varies and depends a lot on tag form. E.g. the basic blank sticker can be less than US$.08. 


So, is it really all about the tag price?

Philip: Tag price is only a part of the equation. The infrastructure required is also a part of the cost analysis, as well as the operational procedures needed to deploy a successful system. 


What are the different means of applying tags on an item?

Philip: Normally it is the same equipment that is used to attach standard labels and price tickets. Swift attach guns are the most common ones. The procedure is normally:

  1. Read the barcode on the shipping manifest. 
  2. Use a dual RFID/barcode scanner and read the barcode or RFID tag on the packing box. 
  3. Select RFID labels that match with the SKU. 
  4. Apply the labels.
  5. Scan the labels to ensure the count matches the shipping manifest.


How to manage the tagging of different types of items? (e.g. jewelry, apparel, shoes, electronics etc).

Philip: Each product category requires a different tag and a different approach to the application of the tag. However, normal tagging techniques and procedures will apply at the point of application in most cases.


And as a bonus question: how do you feel / react when people suggest to use one tag to tag all their products (for example using Smartrac WEP for clothes, shoes and accessories)?

Philip: It is simply not possible.


Philip Calderbank _SML

Philip Calderbank, Vice President - Global RFID at SML. www.SML.com


Introduction to the interview series

1-ON-1 with Kris Doane: RFID from a retailers point of view

3 interviews: RFID the perspective of universities

1-ON-1 with Owe Quide: RFID from an RFID consultant's point of view

1-ON-1 with Jorma Lalla: RFID from ahardware vendor point of view

1-ON-2 with Matjaz Novak and Tom Vieweger: RFID from a software vendor point of view




3 comments on “Interview series: 1-ON-1 with Philip Calderbank”

  1. Gravatar of Derric Robinson- Director of Operations -RTTSDerric Robinson- Director of Operations -RTTS
    Posted 04 July 2013 at 21:26:13

    Hello Mr. Philip Calderbank,
    I thought it would be nice to reach out to you,and very intrigued by your focus on RFID and your base of knowledge. I have some really great thoughts on a dyer need of RFID product/technology and the prospect to make a huge impact on an industry that needs it and would like to discuss the prospect and direction with you. Can you kindly give me a call or email on your first opportunity would like to connect with your before someone seizes the opportunity. Thank you in advance and I look forward to connecting with you soon.

    Best regards,

    Derric Robinson
    Director of Operations
    Real Time Tracking Solutions-RTTS
    email: realtimetrackingsolutions@yahoo.com
    Phone: 702.742.7788

  2. Posted 28 February 2018 at 21:04:37

    Very unique and importnat piece of information about Philip Calderbank have this article. Its a good for me because i have some questions related to it which now clear and happy to have answers through this article.

  3. Posted 01 July 2018 at 11:18:32

    thank you

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