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Markem Launches RFID Starter Packages

The product-labeling provider’s new packages are based on a desktop label printer-encoder, giving companies a lower-costing option to meet RFID mandates.
By Jonathan Collins
Apr 11, 2005In a bid to place its software at the heart of even the earliest RFID deployments, product-labeling systems provider Markem launched two RFID starter packages. Until now Markem's RFID offerings have focused on high-end automated printers and label applicators for industrial deployments, but the company's new RFID packages are based on a desktop RFID label printer-encoder from Zebra Technologies.

"We expect the next 200 Wal-Mart suppliers to start with desktop systems, and the same with the 24,000 that follow. People want to start simple with RFID," says Michael Putnam, product marketing manager of RFID and automatic identification at Markem, which launched its new bundles at the RFID Journal LIVE! conference being held in Chicago.

Markem estimates that of the first 100 Wal-Mart suppliers that have started tagging shipments to Wal-Mart, up to 80 percent started their RFID deployments with a desktop printer configuration.

The new packages extend the reach of Markem's CoLOS management software, which the company uses on its largest printers and label applicators, to small, early-stage deployments using desktop printer-encoders. Customers can then later use the same software to support company-wide RFID networks.

The new Markem RFID SmartStart Desktop packages are available in two configurations: the Test Package and the Compliance Package. The Test Package is designed to help a company determine where tags should be placed on its shipments. The package includes a Zebra R4Mplus RFID label printer-encoder, an Alien Technology ALR9780 RFID reader with a single antenna, and 500 Alien Squiggle tags. Markem's own software included in the bundle consists of the CoLOS Software Platform, which provides database, data capture and administration functions, and the CoLOS DeskManager and Qualify modules, which are used to test and encode tags and verify that the tags contain the correct data.

After Test Package users complete testing, Markem believes they will upgrade their initial RFID testing to include the additional software in its Compliance Package. That includes additional CoLOS software modules to manage and allocate EPC numbers and verify tags are working. Compliance Plus, an upgraded version of the Compliance Package, adds a Symbol Technologies 4000i external bar code scanner, as well as CoLOS software modules for data visibility and reporting, multi-site support for EPC number allocation, legend and graphic creation and data integration and synchronization.

"There are a lot of compliance bundles available from other vendors, but the key point of our new releases is that our software platform will run all of our automated tagging platforms," says Putnam.

Markem made no pricing available for the new packages.
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