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JADAK to Purchase ThingMagic

The $20 million acquisition will allow the medical device technology provider to expand its offerings further into UHF RFID products and solutions, as well as service the government, hospitality and manufacturing industries.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 06, 2017

Medical device technology company JADAK has acquired ThingMagic, a division of Trimble, to expand its own offerings further into ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-based products and solutions in the health-care sector and beyond. The $20 million cash sale will close during the first quarter of this year, says Jeffrey Pine, JADAK's VP of strategy and product management.

At that time, ThingMagic's business operations and product offerings will be combined with JADAK's products. This is JADAK's second acquisition in as many years, following its purchase of RFID company SkyeTek in 2015 (see JADAK Acquires SkyeTek).

JADAK's Jeff Pine
JADAK, a Novanta company headquartered in Syracuse, N.Y., sells bar-code scanners, machine-vision systems, printing solutions, and color and light measurement products and services, in addition to offering a portfolio of high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID products, such as handheld and fixed readers. ThingMagic, meanwhile, has focused on the UHF RFID market. Formerly a division of Trimble, ThingMagic sells both UHF RFID reader modules and fixed readers, as well as full solutions for the medical, retail, logistics and airline industries. The company was founded in 2000 by Ph.D. graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.

The majority of JADAK's current customers are health-care companies that use a variety of the company's products to manage tools and pharmaceuticals or biological products used in those tools. Approximately 12 years ago, the firm began offering HF RFID technology for the authentication and identification of reagents—substances or mixtures utilized in chemical analysis—used in laboratory equipment. Reagents are often mixed with blood or other biological material. Applications to identify and authenticate reagents in use for each procedure require a short read range, Pine explains, and HF RFID served as the optimal technology to accomplish that. Since then, he says, health-care companies have also been purchasing HF RFID solutions from JADAK for laboratory automation—reading the tags on test tubes, for instance, as they are delivered from one piece of equipment to another.

JADAK's health-care customers have been showing an interest in UHF RFID technology as well, Pine says, for such purposes as asset tracking, anti-counterfeiting solutions and identifying patients or personnel.

In late 2015, JADAK purchased SkyeTek, located in Denver, Co., which offered both HF and UHF RFID solutions to expand its offerings in RFID-based systems. SkyeTek makes technology products for OEM equipment suppliers serving the medical, pharmaceutical, government, hospitality and manufacturing industries. Since that acquisition, JADAK has been expanding its RFID product offerings. Now, with the purchase of ThingMagic, the firm intends to further provide UHF-based RFID products and solutions to more health-care based companies, as well as in other markets.

"We're seeing more enhanced UHF RFID interest for asset tracking, security, badge reading and drug tracking" among health-care customers, Pine says. By acquiring ThingMagic, he adds, JADAK hopes to meet those customers' needs. "The combination of the two companies allows up to offer a more enhanced product," Pine states, while enabling the customization of solutions to meet customers' needs. For ThingMagic's customers, he says, the acquisition makes it possible for custom solutions to be developed in-house, leveraging JADAK's laboratory space and engineers.

ThingMagic's existing headquarters in Woburn, Mass., will be closed, and its employees will move to a JADAK office in Bedford, Mass. ThingMagic products will continue to be sold under the ThingMagic name for the foreseeable future, Pine reports. "I think the RFID industry has been through a lot of changes," he says. "When you think of the ultra-hype in the early 2000s," Pine says, followed by a resulting slump in sales, the market has become promising for RFID, as there is renewed, more sustainable interest in the technology. "We're seeing RFID being used across a wide range of industries. I think it's become a mature technology."

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