Bill Hardgrave and the RFID Research Center are about to be reunited. In June, the RFID Research Center will move from the University of Arkansas to Auburn University.
Hardgrave founded the RFID Research Center in 2005 and served as its director until he became the Dean of the Harbert College of Business at Auburn.
“We are thrilled to have the RFID Lab at Auburn University,” says Hardgrave, who was instrumental in securing its move to Auburn. “For almost 10 years, it has proven to be the go-to place for RFID research. The opportunity to continue the great work while expanding its scope at Auburn is exciting.”
Since its founding in 2005, the RFID Research Center has been at the epicenter of research in RFID, earning national and international recognition for its work. Over the past couple of years, the RFID Research Center has limited its research efforts to almost entirely supply chain applications.
At its new location, Hardgrave says the lab will continue to focus on the burgeoning apparel and retail market, but will also accelerate research in food safety and food quality, wireless sensors and cyber security.
“We’ll keep a focus on retail because that’s what is driving everything but with the things we have going on at Auburn, especially in food safety, it make sense to broaden our focus,” says Hardgrave. “Our wireless sensor lab is working on things like drones and you could include sensors with that. The plan is to expand into other areas and allow the lab to grow.”
Longtime RFID Lab managing director Justin Patton will make the move to Auburn along with some of the RFID Research Center’s staff. The new 13,000 square foot facility will occupy a former supermarket space a few miles from campus.
The facility will include a factory, warehouse, distribution center and various retail, grocery and convenience store formats – including mall apparel and high-end fashion boutiques. The lab will focus on the quickly changing face of physical retail stores in the modern era of widely available “disruptive technology,” and will facilitate experimentation with future store layout and shopping experience concepts.
“Moving to Auburn is a big step up for the RFID program,” says Patton. “With Auburn’s world-class programs in wireless engineering, apparel studies, and supply chain, industry sponsors are excited for the lab to simultaneously continue to focus on RFID in retail and broaden its scope to other areas within retail and outside retail.”
The lab will also maintain a research relationship with the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business Department of Supply Chain Management and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology.
Phase one of the new lab will be ready in June, when testing and certification of RFID tags will resume. A formal opening is planned for the fall.