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PostNL Tracks Temperature-Sensitive Pharmaceuticals Via RFID

The company has installed SenseAnywhere active UHF transceivers and receivers within the postal vehicles it operates in Belgium.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 15, 2014

PostNL's Belgium division is employing active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers provided by SenseAnywhere to identify locations and conditions inside vehicles as goods—such as pharmaceuticals and other health-care products—are transported from one site to another. SenseAnywhere manufactures the radio frequency identification technology being used and, in the case of PostNL, also provides the software managing the data on a hosted, cloud-based server.

Netherlands-based SenseAnywhere, founded in 2009, produces wireless technology with a focus on active RFID, wireless sensors and Internet of Things connectivity, says Tom Heijnen, the company's founder, owner and managing director. In 2010, SenseAnywhere released a system consisting of active UHF RFID transponders designed to be built into personal weight scales and blood pressure monitors supplied by Beurer and Terraillon.

The AiroSensor (left) has built-in temperature or humidity sensors, as well as an accelerometer for measuring motion, tilt and shock; the AssetSensor has just an accelerometer.
The scale and monitors work in conjunction with SenseAnywhere's RFID reader—which the company calls an AccessPoint—to receive RFID transmissions, convert the data into IP-based information and forward it to cloud-based servers via an Ethernet or other Internet connection. Software on the server confirms the data's receipt and sends a confirmation back to the user's AccessPoint device, which forwards the confirmation to the transponder within the scale or blood pressure monitor, in order to indicate its transmission was received and thus the measurement data can be deleted from its own memory. If the transponder does not receive such a message, it will automatically retry the communication at preset intervals until it is received in the cloud. The data is temporarily stored and immediately forwarded to the user, to be stored by that user's application.

The collected data can also be accessed via Web-based software or an application, by the consumer and by authorized parties—such as a physician, to view an individual's weight or blood pressure readings. SenseAnywhere provides its tags and readers to systems integrators that sell products and solutions directly to customers in the Netherlands and elsewhere worldwide.

Since 2010, Heijnen reports, SenseAnywhere has been developing transponders for a variety of other use cases. The firm has designed an ultra-low-power active RFID tag that is calls an AiroSensor, which requires a single cell battery that can last for up to 10 years. The AiroSensor—which comes with temperature and humidity sensors, as well as an accelerometer, and operates at the 868 or 915 MHz UHF band—can be used to monitor the whereabouts of goods within the supply chain (based on the readers' known locations), while built-in sensors enable it to monitor conditions in cold chain logistics, as well as temperatures within rooms or refrigerators, for retail, pharmaceutical and health-care environments.

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