AIM Global

50 YEARS of Excellence in Standards for Auto ID Technologies

Fostering the Effective Use of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) Solutions

AIM Global

AIM Global is known worldwide as the Association for Automatic Identification and Data Capture technologies. The foundation for the organization was laid in 1973 by four members of the North American 'Materials Handling Industry Association', now known as the 'Material Handling Institute'.

Today, AIM Global hosts 10 sub-organizations worldwide and represents over 400 member companies. AIM Global successfully drives the global standardization of 'Barcode, RFID, NFC, OCR, UWB and BLE' identification technologies and their dissemination. The neutral focus of the association's work is critical to being a global organization for companies on all continents.

Chuck Evanhoe, Chairman of the Board AIM Global, and Frithjof Walk, Chairman of the Board AIM-D and President AIM Europe, explain in an interview with Anja Van Bocxlaer, RFID & Wireless IoT Global, the mindset that has allowed the association to grow so successfully, consistently and adaptably over all these years.

Interview powered by: the Think WIOT Group and AIM Global.

50 YEARS of Excellence in Standards for Auto ID Technologies

In 1973, the founding year of AIM Global, the Universal Product Code (UPC), now the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN-12), was introduced in North America. It is based on the barcode 'Code 39'. The supermarket chain Marsh used a scanner to identify a barcode on a pack of chewing gum for the first time in history in 1974 in the North American city of Troy in Ohio.

After this first transaction, things moved quickly. In 1976, the European Article Number (EAN) was introduced in Europe. Then in 1994, the robust and error-correcting QR code was developed in Japan. The QR code heralded the crucial evolution of the barcode.

As widespread retail adoption of the UPC progressed beginning in 1974, AIM Global took on the task of promoting standards and dissemination to ensure global interoperability of the barcode.

AIM Global's original goal was to further the purposes of its parent organization, the Material Handling Industry, and to optimize the transportation of packages and boxes. Performant barcodes and readers were and are the basis for an efficient supply chain.

50 Years of AIM Global

50 Years of AIM Global

AIM Global has helped members for 50 years to grow their businesses by fostering the effective use of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) solutions. New chapters are created almost on a yearly basis, AIM India being the most recent one. Volunteer work is at the core of all that AIM Global is and does.

Both Chuck Evanhoe and Frithjof Walk have had an enormous share in shaping the work of AIM Global and AIM Europe respectively. In this interview, both individuals will share their personal experiences and discuss more technical topics.

Chuck Evanhoe: When I look back over the past 50 years, it's not easy to single out one factor. There are numerous key moments that have contributed to this. So to answer the question, I would highlight AIM Global's attitude towards technological change. From 1973 to the present, we have been involved in all technological advances in the labeling sector. Above all, we have laid the groundwork for market expansion by actively working with institutions to standardize labeling methods.

Evanhoe: No, because we have evolved over the decades into a stakeholder organization. End users also benefit from our work. They optimize all operational processes based on innovative labeling and bring their business into the digital world. I think the creation of RAIN in 2014 out of the AIM Global organization was and is also of outstanding importance. UHF RFID is revolutionizing numerous applications.

Frithjof Walk: Since the rapid development of information technology and the Internet – especially in the 1990s – labeling technology has had to evolve along with it. The mutability of the association is enormous. Therefore, I absolutely agree with Chuck.

In addition, though, I see the power of AIM Global in its position vis-à-vis the markets. AIM Global promotes markets and adapts to their change and provides standards for technologies, accelerating solutions for almost all sectors of the economy. AIM Global sees itself as a supporter of technology developers and markets alike.

Walk: Even though I was not personally there in 1973, I am sure that all events and decisions were built on each other. The wireless Internet of Things would have happened differently or later without the 'linear barcode' foundation.

GS1, for example, built the framework for numbering on the AIM Global codes, establishing foundations for commerce. The world of retail could not have evolved so rapidly without the groundwork of AIM Global member companies and standards, as well as GS1. When the first step is taken, others will follow.

  • Verification of compliance with standards
  • Influence on regulations for digital identification and authentication
  • Development of in-house standards
  • Technological consulting and support

Inside of AIM Global

Interview with Chuck Evanhoe

AIM Global is driving the standardization of all AIDC technologies

"AIM Global is all about labeling technologies. Optical barcodes and their development, for example, have been with us since the beginning and were basically also the origins for the founding of AIM Global. The foundation of RAIN in 2014, however, deserves a special mention. RAIN emerged as a sub-organization from the AIM Global association and was further developed over the first years with our support. RAIN is focusing very successfully on the advancement of UHF RFID markets."

Chuck Evanhoe first joined AIM Global in 1983. In 2005, he became a Board Member and the U.S. Representative of AIM Global. He has been President of AIM Global since 2011, making him the longest serving Chairman of the association.

The tremendous interest and adoption of AIDC technologies flourished around the globe along with major developments of technology advancements in other regions. It made sense to create an umbrella organization for all stakeholders.

Chuck Evanhoe: Technology without standards for implementation would create chaos, confusion, and failure. Standardization has always been a major focus and activity for AIM Global to ensure the appropriate application(s) of our technologies.

Frithjof Walk: The major leaps of development would have to be marked by the “super users” driving adoption through mandates/ requirements for doing business. Examples would be the Department of Defense, the retail sector, and the automotive sector in the early years.

Another major effort that paid huge dividends for success were the SCAN-TECH events that were held. They gave us the opportunity to educate masses of users and to demonstrate the use and applications of AIDC technologies. Standardization efforts have been critical in the progress of the industry as we transitioned from a manufacturing association to a stakeholder association at the same time as AIDC technologies became consumerized.

Walk: There are always challenges with the birth of a new industry, especially so with AIDC technologies which changed the very way businesses were run.

The 1980s were the most active for AIDC early adopters and the necessary urgent work that was done in terms of education and standardization. Developments were swift and there was almost a frenzy. During the 1990s and 2000s, we witnessed a major consolidation in the industry with a tremendous number of acquisitions and mergers. The existing government regulations offered a real opportunity for AIM Global to play a key role as technology advisors and to assist with the necessary education of those mandated to comply.

Recently, the pandemic placed renewed emphasis on the importance of track and trace which opened up new opportunities for our members.

We at AIM Global consider it our responsibility to always be ahead of market demands in order to stay up-to-date on the changing market structures and necessary technology applications which support them. One of the biggest challenges we expect to face along the way is with the younger generation in terms of their expectations and awareness. AIDC technologies have become so ubiquitous, that the younger generation is unaware of the importance of standards – they just know that it works.

  • Data Matrix
  • MaxiCode
  • Aztec Code
  • QR Code
  • Code 93i
  • Code 128
  • PDF 417
  • DotCode
  • Han Xin Code
  • RFID
  • RFID Deployment in Animal Tracking
  • RFID Readers on Forklifts
  • RFID Deployment in Hazardous Areas
  • RFID Deployment Near Rail Lines
  • Guidelines on the Content and Structure of Data in Passive Tags
  • Electromagnetic Immunity Testing of Medical Electrical Devices and Systems when Influenced by RFID Readers

AIM Global Today

Interview with F rithjof Walk

AIM offers education, advocacy, standards and community

"When I became a member of AIM-D, I focused mainly on RFID technology. I participated in the working group "RFID Low Frequency". I then learned at AIM-D that foundational work, such as standardization of technologies and exchanges on technology opportunities, are the basis to drive and promote markets."

F rithjof Walk, Chairman of the Board AIM-D e.V., President AIM Europe and Board of Directors at AIM Global has been a member of the Association for Automatic Data Capture, Identification and Mobile Data Communication since 1995. He took over the chairmanship of AIM-D, founded in 1994, in 2000.

The network of AIM Global chapters and partners is truly a global one. By definition, it is also quite diverse.

Chuck Evanhoe: The transition from that of a manufacturing association to a stakeholder’s association – the emphasis has shifted as well as the necessary support materials.

Member engagement and outreach had to shift with the times so the use of social media, webinars, virtual events, augmenting the website, and the structure/content of educational materials had to transform.

Frithjof Walk: In general, the path to decision making is the same as it always has been, namely, communication, education, convincing leaders, financial impacts, benefits, etc. The only difference is in how we need to communicate this information and how we engage with those in need – whether we do it online or in-person.

The necessity and importance of partnerships took center stage as a springboard to reach target audiences that would benefit from the technical expertise offered by AIM Global members. Examples of critical partnerships are listed on the opposite page.

Evanhoe: Our business is association management and advancing the understanding and use of AIDC technologies. Our approaches for local education and information are the same in all regions of the globe.

Walk: This is clearly the biggest challenge of association management and requires consistent attention. It is not easy to find the right person within organizations. We work hard through personal contacts with peers, colleagues, and partners to reach volunteers.

The real hook is the future of new technologies on the horizon and the explosion of AI, IoT and Blockchain, which our technologies enable. None of these new technologies would be possible without the data that is captured through AIDC.

Evanhoe: Yes, industry association work is very critical for the development of standards, technical symbologies, responses to regulators and furthering the applications of AIDC. There is a challenge with the younger generation as they tend to get their information from other sources (AI, social media, etc.).

Professionals still value the importance of association membership for the knowhow and the added career opportunities.

  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • U.S. Universities
  • U.S. End-User Organizations to include: Medical Device Manufacturers, Pharmaceutical Industry, Food Safety, Cannabis etc.
  • GS1
  • OPC Foundation
  • VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry)
  • Universität Würzburg, LS Informatik II, Secure Software Systems
  • Hochschule Mannheim, ESM-Institut
  • KOBIL GmbH
  • PAV Card GmbH
  • VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies
  • ETSI
  • LogiMat
  • NFC Forum
  • Aviation Partners in China, Singapore, and Hong Kong
  • IEEE
  • China Airline Transportation Authority
  • Asean Industry Alliance
  • METI – Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (Japan)
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan
  • Personal Information Protection Commission, Japan

AIM Global in the Future

AIM Global in the Future

AIM is the global authority that links physical, digital and regulatory worlds

AIM is the hub for global standardization and lays the foundation for suppliers, manufacturers, service providers and users to work interoperably. AIM transitions continuously to stay technologically current and to bring value to stakeholders.

AIM will also be able to recognize where the market is headed and support new technological innovations in the decades to come.

Chuck Evanhoe: The focus currently is how AIDC technologies enable the future technology explosion of IoT, Blockchain and AI. As these technologies blossom, new applications will become apparent and AIM will be ready to embrace them.

Evanhoe: Barcode technology is by far the most pervasive – especially when you consider that every person is essentially walking around with a barcode reader in their pocket now. RFID applications are on a very healthy rise in popularity. Moreover, the integration of barcode and RFID co-existing and augmenting each other in business is a real trend now.

Evanhoe: AIM must stay ahead of market demands to keep pace with changing structures and the technology applications required to support them. At the same time, we advise and try to advance the use of AIDC technologies.

This task will continue to occupy us in the coming years. This is because, according to a survey we conducted, barcoding remains very high on the investment priorities of many companies. Other AIDC technologies are less often considered, but can be convincingly placed as complementary investments for IoT and ERP initiatives. We advise our members on how to take advantage of the opportunities that the market offers.

Evanhoe: The main driver will be track and trace applications such as supply chain tracking, whether from farm to table or in the cannabis industry from seed to sale. Since the legalization of cannabis at the end of 2022, this market has become an increasingly important influencer.

The European digital product passport initiative, the Drug Supply Chains Security Act, the Food Safety Act – these applications that require accountability and information about the origin of an item, are, in my opinion, the most important drivers for all of us, be it a barcode or RFID.

For some of our stakeholders, it is also important to enable additional product information and regulatory requirements to be retrievable when the barcode is scanned.

Walk: Some members see another important driver in the continued focus on online commerce and the growing demand from consumers, stakeholders and regulators for transparency and anti-counterfeiting. Getting what was in the order and being able to authenticate its authenticity will be an important task.

Evanhoe: At the macro level, this includes improving response times to meet customer requirements, improving product or service quality, managing supply chain disruptions, and supporting the company's sustainability goals.

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