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Vendor Upgrades RFID Platform

GlobeRanger adds components to its wireless platform to speed up RFID application development.
By Bob Violino
Oct 07, 2003By Jonathan Collins

Oct. 8, 2003 - Supply chain management software developer GlobeRanger has released the latest generation of its wireless platform, iMotion 4.0. This version aims to simplify the collection of real-time data from RFID readers at the edge of the enterprise and transform that data into actionable
GlobeRanger's Koenigs
information. To advance that objective, the Richardson, Texas-based company also formed an alliance with supply chain execution software provider Manhattan Associates.

Back in March, GlobeRanger launched its first RFID component for iMotion, a platform that manages wireless devices (primarily handhelds) and passes on information from those devices to enterprise back-end systems. The iMotion 4.0 platform combines RFID with wireless mobility, making it easier to integrate fixed and handheld RFID readers and mobile bar code scanners into a single application.

iMotion was developed to enable non-technical people to design, configure and manage a network of RFID readers, as well as application workflow and business rules. This is accomplished by means of iMotion's visual tools, such as the Visual Workflow Editor and the Visual Reader Emulator. In addition, enterprises, value-added resellers (VARs) and other customers are provided with tools and templates to accelerate the development process.

According to GlobeRanger, iMotion is the only RFID middleware built entirely on Microsoft's .NET framework. The middleware can be easily deployed on less powerful servers running Microsoft's Windows and even devices running embedded operating systems, such as Windows CE, which reduces the total cost of ownership for a large-scale deployment by distributing the processing closer to the edge of the network. iMotion is also a natural choice for companies that prefer the Microsoft platform.

The platform features a .NET-based Savant for the Auto-ID Center’s EPC Network. Savants are distributed software agents that act as the central nervous system of the EPC Network. They filter data from RFID readers and point computer systems to data associated with an Electronic Product Code, enabling companies to track products moving through the global supply chain. "This brings strong management capabilities to Savants in the EPC environment," says John Koenigs, GlobeRanger’s newly appointed president and CEO.

The company believes that using the .NET platform is the best way to make iMotion easy to use and affordable. "Microsoft has always been committed to a friendly interface and a low cost of support," says Koenigs.

The iMotion 4.0 platform also adds pre-built application component libraries, which have adapters for RFID readers made by major manufacturers. And iMotion 4.0 includes event filters and event consumers—.NET object classes that are developed using the software development kit—to speed the process of application development. These components are .NET object classes that are developed using the iMotion software development kit. Combining bundled components with custom components in an application accelerates the application development process. Specifically, iMotion provides components to poll and configure all the major UHF and HF readers, as well as components to smooth, filter, queue, log and e-mail the RFID tag data.

The iMotion platform also includes a new RFID Reader Emulator capable of simulating real-world behavior of readers, antenna fields and tags before they are deployed. The emulator should enable large enterprises, systems integrators, independent software vendors and VARs to rapidly design and optimize RFID applications, which will hasten the deployment of RFID pilots and full systems. "This is for both large companies planning deployment and systems integrators looking to jump start pilots for their clients," says Koenigs.

To further this end, GlobeRanger has entered into a strategic alliance with Manhattan Associates, based in Atlanta, Ga. The two companies are integrating some of their products and closely aligning their mobile and application strategies. The vendors say the alliance will help simplify and speed up their customers' RFID deployments.

Manhattan Associates is developing mobile applications on GlobeRanger's iMotion platform and is already offering GlobeRanger's wireless Inbound/Outbound Logistics application. GlobeRanger, in turn, has fully completed Manhattan Associates ISV Certification Program. The companies say this arrangement will help Manhattan Associates add mobile capabilities to its supply chain software and enable GlobeRanger to extend its offering into the supply chain. "Our alliance with Manhattan will rapidly generate solutions that leverage mobile technologies to drive value across the supply chain," says Koenigs.

According to GlobeRanger, a number of enterprises are using the iMotion platform, and it is being evaluated by many others. Franwell Software, a leading software provider to the fresh-food industry, is using iMotion to incorporate RFID capabilities into its Agware software product. A major aircraft manufacturer that didn’t want to be identified has developed and deployed an RFID portal application on the iMotion platform to track parts in its warehouse. And Gilbert Logistics, a division of P&O Nedloyd, is using the iMotion platform and GlobeRanger's Inbound/Outbound Logistics application in multiple locations across the United States to perform deliveries to a number of major retailers in shopping malls.

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