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Semi-Passive RFID Deployed at Global 3PL

Power Paper of Israel, together with value-added reseller NBG ID of France, have announced two large-scale RFID deployments at the French distribution centers of a leading global logistics company. The projects have utilized tens of thousands of battery-assisted passive UHF RFID tags from Power Paper's PowerID division.
Jul 17, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 17, 2006—Power Paper of Israel, together with value-added reseller NBG ID of France, have announced two large-scale RFID deployments at the French distribution centers of a leading global logistics company. The projects utilize tens of thousands of battery-assisted passive UHF RFID tags from Power Paper's PowerID division.

The first deployment tracks alcoholic beverage-loaded pallets within the (unnamed) logistics company's distribution center. Each pallet, which belongs to a retailer client, is tagged with a PowerID label, as are the metal shelves on which the loaded pallets are stored. The pallet tags and shelf tags are then cross-referenced to achieve locationing information. According to Power Paper, 100% read rates are being achieved.

The second deployment tracks pallets from the logistics company's possession to the retailer's. The tagged pallets contain mixed goods, oftentimes including radio frequency-unfriendly materials like metals and liquids. Their "departure" passage through the dock doors at the distribution center is recorded, as is their "arrival" passage through the dock doors at the receiving retail establishment. The goal was to decrease misrouting and assure pallet delivery to the correct store. Read rates are at 99.7%.

In both deployments the business cases have proved compelling, including a significant reduction in pallet shrinkage and misrouting. Also, the logistics company is now able to track inventory weekly instead of quarterly, as was the case before. The result is that the retailer of the alcoholic beverages can pay alcohol excises and duties more accurately and frequently.

The PowerID L-1010 tags used for the deployments are battery assisted, also called "semi-passive". This means that unlike the more standard "pure" passive tags, semi-passive tags include a battery that provides power to the tag chip. This allows for all of the energy received from the RFID reader to be allocated to broadcasting information, which results in a stronger signal from the tag. In contast, pure passive tags use the RFID reader energy to power the chip and transmit information.

Semi-passive tags differ from fully active tags in that they still require stimulation by an RFID reader to broadcast information; in the absence of a reader signal, they lie dormant. In active tags the batteries are comparatively stronger, so the tag signal is broadcast using only the energy of the battery. Active tags can therefore transmit data regardless of the presence of an RFID reader.

The PowerID battery-assisted tags were chosen because they met the necessary criteria of 99.5% read rates regardless of orientation (which was a challenge given the RF-unfriendly contents of the pallets) and safe for use around food and beverage. Standard passive tags could not deliver the required read rate, and fully active tags were bulky, relatively expensive, and dependent on batteries whose close vicinity to food and beverage was not suitable.

Founded in 1997, Power Paper specializes in thin and flexible micro-power source technology and devices. In addition to the RFID market, where it focuses on asset tracking in RF-unfriendly environments, the company participates in the skincare market, selling microelectronic patches that have rejuvenating effects. It raised $30 million in venture capital last year.

Read the announcement from Power Paper
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