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RFID News Roundup

Schering Plough uses Accu-Sort's tagging solution; SAMSys releases Gen 2 reader module; automaker launches OpenCrib; Minnesota utility powers up RFID; Savi signs international sales, marketing deals; Paxar, SYS-TEC partner for government clients; IP Smart Packaging names lift truck partner.
By Ari Juels
Jul 15, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of July 11.

Schering Plough Uses Accu-Sort's Tagging Solution
Philadelphia-based Accu-Sort Systems announced that it has installed its FAST Tag In-Motion automated RFID and bar code system for global health care company Schering Plough. FAST Tag In-Motion integrates RFID and bar code readers, label printers, tag applicators, in-line verification systems, controls and data management software in order to automate the application and verification of RFID tags and bar codes on goods. Schering Plough is using the system at its Memphis, Tenn., distribution center. RFID EPC UHF Class 1 tags are placed on cases of Coppertone suntan lotions, Dr. Scholl’s foot care products and a variety of over-the-counter medications (including Claritin, Drixoral and Afrin) headed for Wal-Mart. An RFID printer-encoder first verifies that a tag embedded in a smart label is functional, then encodes it, prints the human-readable data on the label and applies it to a case. Before the case is placed on a pallet, a second interrogator verifies that the tag is still functioning and is transmitting the proper data. The interrogator is linked to a controller that diverts cases with nonfunctioning or inaccurate tags to a separate area for relabeling. Schering Plough is using RFID tags and interrogators from a variety of manufacturers, including Alien Technologies, AWID, Rafsec and Symbol Technologies.

SAMSys Releases Gen 2 Reader Module
SAMSys Technologies, based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., has released the MP9311 reader module, which it says is the first commercially available reader module to support EPC Gen 2 tags. Designed for installation in an RFID label printer-encoder, the module also supports EPC Class 0 and 0+, EPC Class 1, ISO 18000-6A, ISO 18000-6B, Philips UCODE 1.19 and EM 4222 protocols. The MP9311 is currently in beta testing with OEM printer-encoder manufacturers and will be released for general availability on July 30. OEM volume discounts and an MP9311 developer's kit are available, but pricing for the module has not been released. The reader is also covered by SAMSys' TruBlue Gen 2 Assurance Plan, which provides free upgrades to ensure interoperability with UHF RFID tags based on future EPCglobal and ISO standards.

Automaker Launches OpenCrib
Advanced Research Company (ARC), an auto industry systems integrator based in Orion, Mich., and Industrial Control Repair (ICR), an electronic and mechanical repair service and ARC reseller in Warren, Mich., announced the first installation of ARC's OpenCrib RFID middleware platform. ICR installed the system for an unnamed major automaker based near Detroit to help it track 400 spare manufacturing parts stored in a crib—a large caged area at its manufacturing site. For the deployment, Alien Technology's EPC Class 1 UHF Squiggle tags were placed on the parts, and an Alien interrogator was installed in the crib's doorway. OpenCrib was installed on a computer near the door and linked to the interrogator. OpenCrib is integrated with the automaker's inventory and maintenance records. When a maintenance worker removes a part from the crib, the tag is read and OpenCrib updates the part's status from “checked in” to “checked out.” When the malfunctioning part (which the checked-out part has replaced) is repaired and returned to the automaker, a maintenance worker places the repaired part back in the crib, thereby checking it in. Previously, parts were checked in and out using an underused manual system—in fact, as few as 20 percent of the parts were properly checked out. Without an accurate inventory count, the automaker often found itself without parts critical to its manufacturing process, leading to lost productivity. OpenCrib can be integrated into existing inventory tracking systems and linked to Oracle and Microsoft databases, among others (for more on OpenCrib, see Using UHF RFID in Auto Factories). The middleware is available through ARC resellers, including ICR and Raleigh-based Industrial Power Sales.

Minnesota Utility Powers Up RFID
Great River Energy, an electric utility company serving Minnesota and Wisconsin, has deployed a vehicle access system designed by AXCESS International, a Carrollton, Texas, provider of active RFID systems for tracking and access control of vehicles and personnel. The electric company has deployed the vehicle access system at two outposts in northern Minnesota: a remote power plant used only during times of peak energy use, and a storage facility. Drivers of utility vehicles are assigned AXCESS key chain fobs with an embedded RFID tag. When they approach a gated entrance, they press a small button on the fob, causing the tag to transmit its unique ID to an AXCESS reader, or interrogator, installed at the entrance. This reader sends the ID to Great River's Microsoft SQL Server database, where the ID is linked to a personnel profile. If the profile grants the employee entrance to the site, the gate opens. The system, an upgrade from a simple lock and key system, also allows the company to track employee activity at the two locations.

Savi Signs International Sales, Marketing Deals
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Savi Technology a provider of active RFID supply chain solutions, is partnering with systems integrators outside of the United States to support Savi’s marketing and sales efforts and leverage the local connections, expertise and experience these companies offer. This group of partner companies includes AVAANA Software and Services, based in New Delhi, India; ETCOM RFID, located in Israel; Simtix, based in Dubai; and Australia’s Communication Design & Management.

Paxar, SYS-TEC Partner for Government Clients
RFID and bar code label printing systems provider Paxar, of White Plains, N.Y., has entered into a partnership with SYS-TEC, a Petersburg, Mich., provider of automatic identification products and services to the U.S. government. Paxar says the two companies will provide printers, labels, software, test facilities, integration, technical support and other RFID products and services to various government agencies and government suppliers, to help them meet the Department of Defense's RFID tagging mandate.

IP Smart Packaging Names Lift Truck Partner
International Paper Smart Packaging, an RFID products and services provider and systems integrator that is part of the paper products company International Paper (IP), has revealed that one of its partners in providing RFID-enabled fork lifts is Cleveland-based NACCO Materials Handling Group (NMHG). NMHG designs, engineers, manufactures, sells, services and leases lift trucks and aftermarket parts under the brands Hyster, Yale and Sumitomo-Yale. Customers can either purchase the RFID-enabled lift trucks directly from IP Smart Packaging or have the company retrofit their current fleet of trucks with RFID interrogators. IP Smart Packaging says it is partnering with a number of RFID interrogator manufacturers, including AWID and Symbol Technologies. IP Smart Packaging began selling RFID-enabled forklifts in May (see Smart Packaging Sells Forklift Readers). Users can track tagged products as they transport the goods within their facilities. The lift truck’s integrated interrogator transmits RFID tag data wirelessly to the user's network.
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