ECOM Journal 2008

Study on Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chain in Asia
— Asian Forum for Information Technology (AFIT) Specific Issues Debate by representatives from 15 countries —

Masakazu Fujita, Research Director
Next Generation Electronic Commerce Promotion Council of Japan

Overview of Activities

In support of the Center of the International Cooperation for Computerization (CICC), ECOM organized the 6th Asian Forum for Information Technology (AFIT) Thematic Session. In the Thematic Session, ECOM gathered information and deliberated with government agency officials and experts from 15 Asian countries under the theme of "Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chains in Asia" over a period of three months, and summarized the result in a report.

The past activities are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Activities for the Study on Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chain in Asia

1. AFIT

The AFIT is hosted by CICC as a network for sharing information and exchanging opinions on common issues to promote computerization in Asia, and has been held annually since 2002. Nineteen countries or regions* participate in AFIT. Although this was the 6th AFIT forum, if the Asia Forum for Standardization of Information Technology (AFSIT), the predecessor of the AFIT, is included, this is the 22nd forum. Since the last forum, Thematic Sessions have been held to discuss issues in which industry is extremely interested, in addition to the policy sessions held by key persons for IT policies. Starting the previous time, ECOM co-hosted the AFIT and took charge of the Thematic Session.

2. Discussion on specific issues with the representatives from 15 countries

I participated in the discussion as a coordinator as I did the previous time, took "Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chains in Asia" as a topic as the last form, and discussed it with the representatives.

(1) Project plan formulated by task force

We organized a task force (TF) of experts from Japan, and planned a project about challenges, how to proceed with discussions, and Asian candidate participant countries.

(2) Selection of representatives from individual countries

From logistics systems experts, RFID experts and IT experts of each country, we selected members who were going to participate in an online forum, and among the members, we selected panelists who were going to participate in a panel discussion as the TF.

(3) Discussion on an online forum

Through the discussions with participants from each country at the Internet-based online forum, we shared information and exchanged opinions, and summarized the forum at the end. Specifically, we gathered research results of each country, the course of discussions, and materials for further discussion provided by the TF in a folder. The participants shared the folder, and sorted out information through discussion and updates.

As referring to and updating the "current state and issues" of 15 Asian countries, which were collected from questionnaires sent to participants prior to the forum and stored in a shared database, we carried out a two-month online forum and discussed the posted issues. Thirty online forum participants—a session coordinator, panel discussion members from 8 countries, AFIT policy session members from 19 countries, and experts—had a discussion. The participants boiled down the discussion through the online forum. Then the panel discussion members gathered on the day before the General Meeting and confirmed the summary and direction.

(4) Panel discussion at the AFIT General Meeting

Following the keynote speeches, the Thematic Session was held at the General Meeting. After the report on the "current state and issues" of each country, a panel discussion was carried out. For the Thematic Session, 10 members from the government agencies of Asian countries joined the "Workshop on Logistics Efficiency in Asia," a Japanese government-sponsored project agreed upon at the Asian Economic Ministers Meeting. The participants shared information and exchanged opinions.

Photograph 1. AFIT General Meeting Panel Discussion

Photograph 2. Participants in the 6th AFIT General Meeting

Activity Results

1. Report on discussion results

The results of the discussion were put together in a report. The following is the outline of the report.

(1) Title

"Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chain in Asia"

(2) Background and current state

(3) Logistics and RFID tag-related issues of the 15-nation region

The survey results of 15 countries and regions (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) on IT infrastructure, human resources, logistics, current state of EDI, logistics and RFID tag-related legal systems, policies, utilization case examples of RFID tags, etc., were summarized in a table.

(4) Issues identified in discussion and future measures

2. Exhibition and debriefing session in Thailand

We participated in the "Mekong Region Overland Route Utilization Project: Workshop and Exhibition" hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and held in Thailand (Bangkok) on February 25 and 26, 2008. We displayed an exhibit and gave a presentation on the "Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chains in AFIT Asia." We answered questions from the floor, including one regarding security from an official of the World Customs Organization. After the presentation, we had an interview with a newspaper. This Workshop and Exhibition attracted 200 strong participants from local government, relevant organizations, and businesses. We realized the high level of interest about the enhancement of logistics efficiency.

Summary

We had many discussions over past two years with experts and government officials from each country under the theme of "Enhancement of Logistics Efficiency and Use of RFID in Supply Chains in Asia." It was significant that, as a result, central players from Asian nations were able to share awareness and a direction toward solution of "enhancement of logistics efficiency"—a pressing issue for global businesses which operate manufacturing bases, physical distribution bases and sales bases in Asia. We hope that, instead of freezing the results, we will be able to continue to work on the issue in some form or another in the future.

* AFIT members are the following 19 countries or regions.
Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam