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By Beth Bacheldor

Extronics Launches iRFID500 Handheld UHF RFID Reader for Hazardous Areas

Extronics, a maker of explosion-proof wireless technology for the mining, oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and other industrial markets, has launched its iRFID500 handheld Bluetooth passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader. The device is intended for streamlining business processes such as tracking assets (drill pipes or tools, for instance), monitoring maintenance tasks and planning, and demonstrating regulatory compliance for companies operating within hazardous areas or harsh environments.

Using technology provided by CAEN RFID, the iRFID500 is designed to be integrated with existing business processes and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) networks to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce downtime, Extronics reports. According to the company, the device is suitable for industrial companies looking to equip operators with smart devices such as smartphones and tablets, replacing traditional bulky, heavy PDAs. Smart devices paired with Bluetooth accessories that can work both in connection with smart devices and as standalone units such as the iRFID500 can maximize operational efficiency and flexibility, Extronics reports.

Extronics' iRFID500 handheld UHF RFID reader
The iRFID500 device complies with the ISO 18000-6C and EPC Gen 2 specifications, has an IP64 rating, and features a battery life of more than 12 hours, making it suitable for shift work, according to the company. Measuring 128 millimeters by 59 millimeters by 22 millimeters (5.04 inches by 2.32 inches by 0.87 inch) and weighing just 150 grams (5.3 ounces), the device is small and light enough to carry around. Its stylus nib allows users to operate a tablet or smartphone without having to remove protective gloves—for example, to record maintenance tasks or pull up an asset inspection checklist on a tablet. The iRFID500 is available as fully certified for safe hazardous area use in accordance with ATEX, IECEx and North American regulations for explosive atmospheres. It also holds radio approvals for both the ETSI and FCC UHF frequency bands, Extronics indicates, making it suitable for applications around the world.

"Creating the iRFID500 was driven by input from our customers and their challenges," said John Hartley, Extronics' managing director, in a prepared statement. "We wanted to build a practical Bluetooth accessory that could be used with the increasing number of smart devices being released for the hazardous and industrial markets. Our existing expertise with passive RFID, gained whilst developing the intrinsically safe iTAG500 UHF tag range, gave us a great understanding of the applications for passive RFID in the process industries."

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