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RFID Weekly News Roundup March 26, 2009

Deployments by high-profile end users highlight this week's RFID and RTLS news, which also includes an updated industry forecast and several product announcements.
Mar 26, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

March 26, 2009—Deployments by high-profile end users highlight this week's RFID and RTLS news, which also includes an updated industry forecast and several product announcements.
  • In a letter to suppliers, PepsiCo's Quaker, Gatorade and Tropicana business units said they would use RFID-enabled pallets from iGPS exclusively in their supply chains. Gatorade and Quaker will replace wooden pallets received from customers with iGPS's RFID-enabled plastic ones starting April 1, followed by Tropicana on May 1. RFID tracking is completely optional for Gatorade, Quaker and Tropicana customers.
  • The total value of RFID products, software and services sold this year will top $5.6 billion, according to new forecasts released this week by New York-based industry research and analyst firm ABI Research. Director Michael Liard said forecasting is difficult in the current economic environment and that the first two quarters would be strong indicators for how RFID spending will go for the entire year. "The recession has had an undeniable effect on deployment plans," he said. "But despite some project deferrals and terminations, there will be market growth, albeit fragmented. Many industry participants contacted by ABI Research feel current conditions are challenging but may only represent a small bump in overall RFID adoption."
  • InfoLinx System Solutions, a records management systems company in Maryland, and Central Business Group, an Ohio storage solutions provider, announced they are deploying an RFID-based patient file tracking system for the Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic is a leading research hospital and will use Gen2 passive UHF technology to track files for patients involved in studies.
  • Using RTLS in hospitals isn't groundbreaking, but RTLS is being built into one from the ground up. RTLS provider Versus Technology announced its RTLS infrastructure is being built into the new Western Maryland Health System facility currently under construction in Cumberland, Maryland. The system will track patients and assets at the seven-story facility.
  • IBM and Volkswagen announced an RFID deployment for parts logistics operations following a one-year pilot project in which 3,000 reusable carriers were tracked to record sun roofs received at the assembly plant. The system uses IBM's container management software application and WebSphere Premises Server with Intermec UHF handheld and fixed-position readers, and Intermec-designed tags for use around metal.

    "The pilot project has been ground-breaking," Kurt Rindle, global sensor solutions executive at IBM said in the announcement. "Volkswagen is driving innovation by becoming the first vehicle manufacturer to make daily use of RFID technology in the flow of materials between suppliers and the manufacturing line."
  • IBM also announced an RFID vehicle tracking application with Ringnes, the largest brewer in Norway. The Ringnes distribution facility in Oslo tracks the arrivals and departures of 200 delivery trucks each day through 40 RFID-enabled loading gates.
  • Blue Spark Technologies and UPM Raflatac have partnered to develop and promote battery-assisted passive RFID technology. Raflatac is a leading international RFID inlay producer, and Blue Spark is a Cleveland-based developer of thin, flexible batteries that are small enough to integrate with smart labels and other RFID tags. The firms announced that their joint technical development produced 50-meter read range for passive, Gen2-standard RFID tags using the new EM4324 chip from EM Microelectronic.
  • Ingecom, a Swiss manufacturer, introduced active RTLS tags that sell for €5. The tags conform to the ISO 24730-1 standard and are intended for tracking reusable containers, including plastic pallets, totes, crates or metal pallets, according to the announcement.
  • Elecsys, a Kansas City-based manufacturer of Radix handheld computers and other automation equipment for rugged environments, announced it is acquiring MBBS, a Swiss developer of RFID systems for use on metal and in harsh environments. Elecsys is exchanging 175,000 shares of its stock to acquire MBBS, which had revenues of approximately $550,000 last year. The deal is expected to close in June.
  • WiFi RTLS provider Ekahau announced HeatFinder, a mapping tool for small enterprises to see the strength of wireless coverage for planning small WiFi networks. The utility is available from Ekahau's website.
  • A Korean news service reported that LS Industrial Systems plans to double its 13.56 MHz chip production capacity to 120 million units per month starting in July.
RFID Update coverage for the week:
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