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European RFID Test Sees Near-Perfect Read Rates

Reva Systems and Impinj today announced what they are calling a performance breakthrough for RFID deployments in Europe, where adoption in the supply chain has been hindered by poor performance owing to restrictions on radio frequency allocations.
Oct 16, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 16, 2006—RFID network infrastructure provider Reva Systems and Gen2 chip and reader manufacturer Impinj today announced what they are calling a performance breakthrough for RFID deployments in Europe, where adoption in the supply chain has been hindered by poor performance owing to restrictions on radio frequency allocations.

At an operational distribution center of retailer METRO in Unna, Germany, each of 36 adjacent dock doors was equipped with an Impinj Speedway Gen2 RFID reader. The network of readers was managed centrally by a Reva Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP), the company's flagship device. At the same moment, one pallet loaded with about 60 tagged Procter & Gamble goods was passed through each portal and onto a docked truck at full operational speed, meaning each pallet was in the RFID read field for between one and one and a half seconds. The exercise was repeated several times. Overall, the companies reported getting read rates in the 98-99% range.

Thirty-six readers in such close proximity to one another qualifies as a "dense reader environment" in which read performance is challenged by the amount of radio frequency "noise". Dense reader environments have been particularly challenging in Europe, where the frequency band allocated for UHF RFID is quite narrow at 3 MHz (865 to 868 MHz). In contrast, the frequency band for RFID in the United States is a far roomier 26 MHz (902 to 928 MHz).

Europe has mandated the use of an RFID reader technique called "listen-before-talk", wherein readers check for the presence of other reader signals before broadcasting their own. This is not as efficient as the "frequency hopping" method used in North America, and has meant RFID deployments in Europe were not scalable to high quantities of readers.

For the Reva-Impinj test, the 36 reader signals were monitored by a single listen-before-talk sensor. The sensor's data stream was piped into the Reva TAP, which managed the readers' activity in real time.

The results of the test are unprecedented -- past tests had not achieved comparable performance with such a high number of readers -- and therefore represent a strong argument for the viability of dense reader deployments in Europe. "Most European trials have only supported a handful of simultaneous readers, and inventory reliability has always been significantly lower," said Impinj chairman and co-founder Chris Diorio.

Reva chairman and co-founder Ashley Stephenson told RFID Update that the test could spur adoption in Europe. "We have an existence proof now that dense reader mode is possible in Europe," he said. "This is one of the roadblocks European end users were waiting to clear before rolling out RFID, so I would expect to see increased RFID activity in Europe in the coming year."

Read the official announcement
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