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Hybrid Tag Includes Active RFID, GPS, Satellite and Sensors
A new tag from Numerex and Savi Technology can intelligently determine whether to communicate via an active RFID network or satellite communications, thereby promising more thorough, end-to-end visibility in a global supply chain.
Feb 24, 2009—Numerex, an Atlanta-based provider of fixed and mobile machine-to-machine wireless solutions and network services, and RFID systems supplier Savi Technology have unveiled an intelligent hybrid tag that combines active RFID, satellite communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies. The tag is designed to track goods anywhere within a global supply chain, whether they are waiting in a warehouse, being loaded onto a ship or sitting in a desert at a bare-bones military outpost.
The tag, known as the ST-694 GlobalTag, has been in development since the summer of 2007, as part of a cooperative research and development contract for the U.S Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) group responsible for creating and implementing global deployment and distribution solutions for the U.S. military and government.
"The DOD has a mandate for an asset tag that can be used to track assets end-to-end," says Pierre Parent, Numerex's VP and general manager of satellite solutions, "which includes the entire time that asset is in the supply chain—from the time it is packed up in a container, loaded onto a ship, unloaded and delivered."
Radio frequency identification works well to track goods, Parent says, as long as there are RFID interrogators located at various points along the supply chain to capture tag reads. But the U.S. military shipments are often beyond the reach of an RFID reader—the typical RFID read range for the ST-694 GlobalTag, for instance, is 100 meters (328 feet). When goods are moved into desert or mountainous regions to support troops in battle, that's where they can be misplaced and become vulnerable to theft.
Therefore, Savi Technology and Numerex opted to marry satellite and GPS tracking with active RFID into a single device controlled by one microprocessor. Not only can the tag automatically and intelligently switch between active RFID and satellite communications as necessary, but the data can be viewed using a single back-end system.
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