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Siemens Offers RTLS Technology

The Germany company has added real-time locating technology from WhereNet to its RFID product line.
Mar 12, 2003March 13, 2003 - Siemens is filling out its MOBY line of RFID products by licensing WhereNet's real-time locating technology. The agreement with WhereNet gives Siemens the ability to offer customers products that can track assets from a few feet away to hundreds of feet.

Siemens will rebrand the WhereNet product suite, and call it MOBY-R. The WhereNet systems uses active (battery-powered) tags that transmit signals to readers. Software analyzes the data and identifies the location of the tagged asset to within 10 feet.
Matt Armanino

Siemens has a strong presence in the industrial sector, and the WhereNet technology lets it offer its customers the ability to track items such as merchandise, reusable containers, vehicles, even assemblies, as they move about a given area.

"The WhereNet technology is on the leading edge of real-time locating systems, so we decided to increase our product portfolio with this system," says a Siemens spokesperson. "MOBY-R complements our other identification products."

WhereNet, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., says a large European carmaker has agreed to pilot the Siemens-branded technology. The carmaker will hang an active locating tag on the windshield of each vehicle as it rolls off the assembly line. Each tag will have a unique serial number that will be used to identify the vehicle.

When the car is in a lot with dozens or hundreds of others that look similar on the outside but have different features and options, the automaker will be able to find the right car quickly. The system also helps with recalls. If a defective part is discovered, automakers typically have to hold all the cars in the lot until those with the defective part are located. With this system, the automaker can locate the specific cars with the problem and ship the others to a dealer. Ford Motor Co. has been using WhereNet's system this way at a facility in the U.S.

MOBY-R uses WhereNet's WhereLAN Location Sensor and Locating Access Points to create a wireless network within a facility, such as an auto assembly plant or distribution center. When deployed indoors access points are typically deployed 250 to 350 feet apart. When used outside, access points are installed about 750 to 1,000 feet apart. WhereNet's programmable active tags transmit at 2.45 GHz.

Workers can use 802.11b wireless handheld devices to gather data about the status of assets. In a container yard, a worker could query the RFID tag to find out the temperature of a refrigerated car.

WhereNet says its product compliments Siemens existing line of RFID products because its software gives users a map of the facility. "It's more of a local area GPS capability, which is complementary to Siemen's existing RFID capabilities," says Matt Armanino, WhereNet's VP of business development. "The Siemens technology can tell a user that a certain asset has passed through a door in a facility, but our RTLS technology can track where that asset went once it passed that door and where it is right now."

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