RFID News Roundup
Chicago Public Schools to implement RFID for tracking assets; Ekahau upgrades Wi-Fi-based RTLS solution; Aker Eye Vision Source uses RTLS to improve patient flow, efficiency; Numerex, Cascade Engineering partner on asset management for solid-waste market; Swedish DYI retailer installs RF-enabled e-paper for digital product pricing, inventory; Master Lock acquires Field ID; Xerafy factory in China gets ISO-9001 certification, doubles capacity; GainSpan unveils single chip supporting Wi-Fi and ZigBee.
Feb 28, 2013—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Chicago Public Schools to Implement RFID for Tracking Assets
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has announced that it will implement an RFID-based enterprise asset-management solution from Radiant RFID. Chicago's school district, one of the largest in the United States, serves more than 402,000 students. According to Radiant, the district will deploy its Virtual Asset Tracker (VAT) system to manage a diverse and mobile inventory of more than $450 million in capital and controlled assets, including technology, video, audio-visual and kitchen equipment, furniture, instruments and vehicles. The VAT system consists of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID technology, as well as Radiant software and Web reporting that includes exception reports, matching reports, lost inventory and total inventory. VAT will present this data in numerous formats to all CPS departments, including accounting and finance, information technology, property management and administration, and users will be able to create custom reports and view system dashboards in order to make better decisions regarding asset utilization. By automating data collection, Radiant reports, RFID technology greatly reduces the need for human effort and the incidence of errors. Radiant is currently working with CPS to replace the district's existing bar-code system with the RFID solution, for the tracking of approximately 100,000 assets at 200 campuses, while upgrading data visibility district-wide. According to Radiant, the company's solution will ultimately encompass all 650-plus campuses throughout the district. Radiant's VAT system is being utilized at other public agencies in Chicago as well, including the Suburban Bus Division of the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (see RFID News Roundup: Radiant RFID Implements Asset Tracking for Chicago-area Bus-Transit Agency).
Ekahau Upgrades Wi-Fi-based RTLS Solution
Ekahau, a provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, has announced an upgrade to its RTLS, featuring a new architecture that centralizes Ekahau's location-tracking algorithms and tag-management software. The upgrade is designed to increase the scalability of the system—which relies on Wi-Fi-based RTLS technology, including battery-powered Wi-Fi RFID tags and software—and to better support large health-care environments. The new centralized distribution architecture increases the volume of Wi-Fi tags managed by a single Ekahau software controller by more than 20 times, the company reports, with a single Ekahau master RTLS controller now able to service up to 10 remote software nodes. This, Ekahau explains, means customers can more quickly add as many new floor-plan maps and Ekahau asset tags, badges and temperature sensors as necessary, without creating separate and limited systems. In addition, the company says, a single Ekahau Vision Web-based sign-on system lets customers search for assets and individuals, as well as view workflows across multiple buildings and campuses, from any location worldwide. The associated Ekahau Vision location analytics application was also redesigned—which, according to the company, makes it easier for customers with large campuses and multiple remote sites to expand their RTLS deployments. A new hot-standby feature improves the system's reliability; the Ekahau RTLS model is based on two concurrently running primary and backup systems, each containing location and tag data. If the primary system is unreachable due to a software or hardware failure, Ekahau adds, the backup system seamlessly replaces it to ensure uninterrupted service to life-critical hospital applications.
Aker Eye Vision Source Uses RTLS to Improve Patient Flow, Efficiency
Aker Eye Vision Source, an eye clinic in Titusville, Fla., has implemented Versus Technology's real-time locating system (RTLS) designed to help it more effectively manage patient flow, according to Versus. The Versus Advantages Clinic patient flow system is an RTLS solution consisting of staff and patient badges that transmit infrared (IR) signals, as well as RFID as a backup solution, in the event that the IR signal is blocked or not operating properly. When a tag's IR signal, emitted every three seconds, is received by the IR reader at a particular location, the interrogator transmits its own ID number, along with that of the tag, to the Versus software. If the IR signal is not being received (if, for instance, a blanket is covering the tag and its infrared beacon), the RFID system provides a backup by emitting a 433 MHz RFID signal—which also beacons every three seconds—using a proprietary air-interface protocol. The tags and badges communicate with wireless, battery-powered V-Link sensors installed within each patient-care area of Aker Eye Vision Source, in order to track and time the stages of every patient visit (for example, check-in, pre-testing and examination). While the times are recorded, the real-time locations of patients and staff members are displayed on an electronic display—known as Glance-and-Go—of the office's floor plan. Pop-up messages on the display also alert optometrists when patients are ready to be seen. Greg Aker, the optometrist who founded the eye clinic, discovered Versus' patient-flow system while searching for ways in which to reduce stress for his staff, the company reports. Between two optometrists, his practice can now accommodate as many as 65 patients daily. According to Versus, Aker implemented the Advantages Clinic RTLS in January 2013, and the average patient's overall visit time was reduced by 10 minutes on the first day. For the optometrists, the system's alerts and timers are motivators to keep patient flow moving. "It's the best part about the whole system," Aker said in a prepared statement. "I'm seeing a timer tick by with how long the patient's been waiting for me. If the patient's been left alone for 15 minutes, this blue alert turns to red, so I know, boy, I better get in there." Aker expects that efficiencies gained from the system will grow, Versus reports, once the clinic begins utilizing the historical data offered through Versus' Reports Plus Analytics software. Ready-made reports compare wait times, overall visit times or other metrics against benchmarks, Versus explains, to identify potential bottlenecks in patient flow.
Numerex, Cascade Engineering Partner on Asset Management for Solid-Waste Market
Numerex, an Atlanta-based provider of fixed and mobile machine-to-machine wireless solutions and network services, and Cascade Engineering, a global manufacturer serving a diversity of markets, have announced their joint development of the X-Tracker asset-management solution for the solid-waste and recycling market. X-Tracker provides geographic visibility, tracking and management of remote assets, such as roll-offs, used during the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste. This solution leverages Numerex's supply chain management solution that includes smart devices, intelligent network services and an application framework built around Numerex FAST, the company's application-development platform, and Cascade Engineering's Xtreme RFID division. Xtreme RFID develops a variety of rugged RFID tags that meet the stringent requirements of the solid waste industry and other physically demanding industries. One example is the Xtreme Metal Tag, a rugged on-metal tag incorporating Avery Dennison RFID's AD-843 EPC Gen 2 inlay that is encased in plastic via a custom injection-molding process developed by Xtreme RFID (see RFID News Roundup: Cascade Engineering's Xtreme RFID Division Launches On-Metal UHF Tag Made With Avery Dennison Inlay). X-Tracker collects a variety of information and metrics involving an asset's utilization, the two companies report, including dwell times, asset movements, patterns and cycle loop times, real-time asset location and expected movement patterns. What's more, the partners add, customers have access to tools supporting long-life device management, as well as a flexible system configuration to match enterprise business rules, metrics and management.
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