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RFID News Roundup

RFID to track hazardous waste; SAMSys unveils ETSI-compliant reader; Paxar opens smart label bureau; Matrics readies reader for EPC Gen 2; MPI delivers functioning labels.
By Bob Violino
Jul 16, 2004The following are news announcements made during the week of July 12.

RFID to Track Hazardous Waste
Kureha Environmental Engineering, a waste management company based in Tokyo, has begun working with IBM to test the feasibility of using RFID tags to track the disposal of medical waste. Tags will be placed on containers Kureha uses to store waste materials. Tests will be done to see where the tags should be placed on the containers and to study how signals from RFID readers are affected by the materials in the container. The testing will be done over the next few weeks in IBM's recently opened RFID center in Kanagawa, Japan. The primary goal is to determine whether RFID can be used to prevent the illegal disposal of medical waste by creating a traceability system with at a number of different hospitals in Japan. If the tests prove successful, field trials will be done at Kureha's waste-processing facilities, after which, the RFID system could be deployed at the Kureha General Hospital in Japan's Fukushima prefecture.

SAMSys Unveils ETSI-Compliant Reader
SAMSys Technologies, a Richmond Hill, Ontario-based provider of RFID hardware and consulting services, has introduced the MP9320 V2.7 multiprotocol UHF reader, which the company says meets both current and proposed European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) regulatory standards, as well as Federal Communication Commission standards for RFID readers. ETSI is in the process of revising the rules governing the use of RFID readers operating in the UHF spectrum in the European Union. The new SAMSys reader enables companies in Europe to install the readers and upgrade the firmware in the reader when the new ETSI standards are finalized. The MP9320 V2.7, which will begin shipping later this month, has a list price of $2,999. It can read RFID tags that use the ISO 18000-6A and 18000-6B, Philips UCODE EPC 1.19, EM Marin 4022 and 4222, Intermec Intellitag and EPC Class 1 protocols.

Paxar Opens Smart Label Bureau
Paxar, a White Plains, N.Y., provider of bar code and identification technologies, announced that its Q-Service RFID service bureau has started production. Companies needing RFID shipping and pallet labels can place orders with the service and receive, in as little as 48 hours, labels programmed with unique RFID serial numbers and printed with bar codes and human-readable data. Paxar, which markets its label products under the Monarch brand, says the service enables suppliers to meet retailers' RFID mandates without investing in hardware or RFID systems.

Matrics Readies Reader for EPC Gen 2
Matrics, Rockville, Md., provider of RFID systems, says it will soon begin shipping “Gen 2-ready” versions of its AR 400 RFID readers. The AR 400 is a multiprotocol reader that can read RFID tags using EPCglobal's Class 0, Class 0+, and Class 1 protocols. EPCglobal, a joint venture created by EAN International and the Uniform Code Council to promote the use of Electronic Product Codes, plans to finalize a second generation EPC standard by October. A draft of that standard is currently being evaluated (see Consensus Reached on EPC Gen 2), and companies, such as Matrics, are upgrading the firmware in their readers to enable it to work with the current draft protocol. That protocol will likely change slightly before it is approved and readers might need another firmware upgrade once the final standard is on the market.

MPI Delivers Functioning Labels
The quality of RFID labels has become a serious issue for end users. Some companies say that as much as 15 percent of the labels they buy don't work, which adds to their cost. MPI Label Systems, a Sebring, Ohio-based manufacturer of labels and label applicators, says it has implemented a system that inspects the read and write capability of each RFID transponder before it's embedded in a label. The company says this process enables MPI to deliver RFID pressure-sensitive labels that work at least 99 percent of the time. It doesn't guarantee that level because the labels could be damaged during shipping, within a customer's facilities or when applied. But it says its CTM360RW RFID Label Applicator has an RFID reader that checks the labels before they are applied to the box to do a final check and ensure only functioning labels are placed on boxes (see MPI Rolls Out Label Applicator).

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