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RFID Router for Remote Sites

RF Code releases a palm-size router that collects and filters RFID tag data and forwards the results to a central management system.
By Jonathan Collins
Jul 15, 2004RFID systems developer RF Code has launched a new hardware component to its Tavis auto-ID network management platform. RF Code says that for companies building out RFID networks, its new Tavis Data Router offers a unique way to minimize the complexity of those deployments in the tough IT environments of warehouse and distribution centers.
Nissim Ozer

The new router needs to be used in conjunction with RF-Code's Tavis auto-ID middleware, which processes raw data received from data-collection devices such as passive-tag RFID readers, bar code scanners and GPS receivers, discerns what data needs to be passed on to enterprise applications and in what format and then forwards that data to the correct application.

According to the company, RFID management software from rival companies such as OAT Systems, GlobeRanger and ConnecTerra lack this additional hardware layer and therefore require that dedicated PC servers be deployed at warehouses and distribution centers to process the large volumes of tag data that needs to be sent over corporate networks to a central site. Because of their high maintenance needs, however, PCs are less ideal choices, according to RF Code.

"Using a PC to manage a pilot in a warehouse is one thing, but when RFID is deployed across multiple locations, having IT infrastructure in these harsh environments is an obvious point of pain," says Nissim Ozer, executive vice president at RF Code, which is based in Mesa, Ariz. The company estimates that by deploying the Tavis Data Router instead of a PC, a company could cut in half its IT infrastructure deployment expenses (the cost of the hardware and the associated networking and physical installation). It will also reduce its ongoing maintenance costs by around a third because managing the router could be done remotely instead of on-site, as would be the case with a PC.

RF Code looks to solve that problem by handing over local control of an RFID network to the Tavis Data Router. Roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes, the unit runs an embedded version of the company's core Tavis auto-ID network management software.

With two Ethernet ports and a Compact Flash slot, which can be used to add wireless network connectivity or extra memory, the router acts as a management tool and a data filter. The embedded version of RF Code's Tavis software running on the router collects and consolidates all the data generated at any number of local RFID portals and then forwards over the network only the relevant data, as defined by the system administrator, to a PC at a central management site. Tavis middleware running on the PC would then pass that distribute that data to the appropriate enterprise applications.

According to the company, one Tavis Data Router can support an entire distribution center, depending on the number of reads per second that center generates. The unit can support a network delivering 2,000 tag reads per second.

Founded in 1997, RF Code claims a long history of developing RFID systems. Its Tavis middleware product, which has been in commercial use for nearly three years, was developed to provide the infrastructure in order to drive acceptance of its own active RFID tag and reader offerings.

As it does with its other products, RF Code says it will not sell the Tavis Data Router directly to end users but will rely on sales through systems integrators and software partners. The company says that logistics systems specialist RedPrairie has already signed on to rebrand and sell the Tavis Data Router.

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