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Madshus Embeds RFID Tags in Nordic Skis

The company is embedding NFC RFID inlays in its Champion series, not only to track work-in-progress at its factory, but also to ensure retailers sell the right skis to a customer and provide buyers with product and usage information.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 22, 2014

Nordic skis vary according to a user's size and the conditions in which he or she is skiing. To help stores and customers identify the correct skis and ensure that they are being used and waxed properly, Norwegian-based ski manufacturer Madshus has begun embedding passive Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags into each ski within its Champion series (the Hypersonic, Nanosonic and Redline models), and is storing data on the company's server, linked to the tags' ID numbers, throughout the manufacturing process. The RFID feature, known as empower, is expected to be available to retailers and consumers this coming fall, in time for the 2014-15 skiing season.

Madshus retailers will use tablet-based retail displays with built-in RFID readers to access information about each tagged ski.
For Madshus, the use of passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, will benefit its ski factory by helping it track which processes are completed on every product. But the tag has another primary purpose: to help stores and customers ensure that the proper pair of skis is sold to each customer, by identifying its type and how it was manufactured, and to provide instructions regarding how to wax that specific pair of skis. Customers will be able to access data about each ski prior to making a purchase, by utilizing an NFC-compliant RFID reader built into a mobile phone, or through Madshus' tablet-based retail displays with built-in readers.

Beginning in fall 2014, customers with NFC-enabled phones will be able to download the MyMadshus application from the company's website. They can then use the app to access waxing and performance information regarding their specific skis for particular skiing conditions, in addition to weather forecasts and training information.

K2 Outdoor's Chris McCullough
Madshus is now embedding the NFC tags in its Champion series skis (the left and right ski each has its own tag), according to Chris McCullough, the global brand manager of K2 Outdoor, a division of K2 Sports, which is also Madshus' parent company. Madshus' Norwegian factory has installed six RFID interrogators, so that every ski's tag is read at each processing point, including the application of layers of foam or other materials and the completion of finish work, before the skis are shipped to retailers.

Nordic skis must be fitted specifically to an individual athlete in order to deliver the best performance, based on that person's weight and size, along with the conditions in which he or she skis. Skis vary based on internal properties that affect flexibility, such as the type and thickness of materials in the core, as well as the ski's camber line (curved portion). Currently, when a customer visits a ski store, employees must take into account the buyer's weight and attempt to identify the best kind of ski for that individual. They must then perform flexibility tests by putting pressure on the skis specific to that customer's weight, and then determining, based on that flexibility, the part of the ski (known as the wax pocket) to which the wax should be applied in order to ensure the optimal performance. With NFC technology, Madshus hopes to make this process much easier.

USER COMMENTS

Jenni Krohn 2014-01-23 03:19:20 AM
Could ski rental shops also utilize this system? I have seen them use barcodes in their operations at the moment. Maybe this could be a more durable option?
Suresh Sawhney 2014-01-27 04:27:21 AM
Could you let me know which readers have been used at the different manufacturing stations? Nipun Malhotra

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