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RFID Weekly News Roundup May 7, 2009

New market forecasts, the possibility that Alien will close its North Dakota manufacturing facility, and Zebra's quarterly results provided more clues about the health of the RFID industry this week, which also saw consolidation in the smart label sector and continued product and customer announcements.
May 07, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

May 7, 2009—New market forecasts, the possibility that Alien will close its North Dakota manufacturing facility, and Zebra's quarterly results provided more clues about the health of the RFID industry this week, which also saw consolidation in the smart label sector and continued product and customer announcements.
  • The global RFID market will grow 11 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the latest forecast from ABI Research. The Oyster Bay, New York research firm noted that the devastation of the automotive market has depressed demand for RFID-based immobilizers and pulled down the overall market growth number. Excluding that segment, RFID market growth will actually achieve 16 percent between 2009 and 2010.

    "Transponders, readers, software, and services are all showing healthy growth. The most robust applications include contactless ticketing, contactless payments (particularly in North America and Europe), item-level tracking in fashion apparel and footwear, asset management (not only corporate assets, but also returnable transport items, tools/parts, and work-in-process), baggage handling, real-time location systems (RTLS), and electronic identification documents," ABI Research analyst Mike Liard said in the announcement.
  • North Dakota news outlet INFORUM published a detailed article on Tuesday about the possibility that Alien Technology will close its manufacturing plant in Fargo. That plant is equipped to produce inlays using Alien's patented fluidic self-assembly process (FSA), a process best-suited for production of very high volumes. It is much less suited for the current production levels that are due to lower-than-expected demand for inlays.

    While the INFORUM article indicates that Alien is only considering the closure of its Fargo plant, a quote from Alien's Victor Vega to Lou Sirico of IndustryWizards.com suggests -- but does not explicitly affirm -- that the closure is all but decided. "We have decided to implement some changes to our production process," he says. "The undergoing changes are transparent to our end customers and the migration is moving along seamlessly. The fundamental difference is a simple change in the chip attachment from our traditional strap-based attachment process to that of a flip-chip attachment process for our inlay assembly." See the full quote on IndustryWizards.com.
  • During its first quarter earnings call Zebra Technologies said its Enterprise Solutions group, which sells the RTLS and RFID systems the company gained through acquisitions of WhereNet, MSSI and Navision, installed 12 solutions during the quarter and has a goal of 50 for the year. The business unit had $21.8 million in sales in the first quarter, up slightly from the $20.5 million reported in Q1 2008. Zebra's overall quarterly sales were $192.6 million, down from $246.2 million in the prior-year period. Zebra is forecasting second-quarter sales for the Enterprise Solutions business unit to be between $18 and $20 million. A replay of the call is available here and an online transcript is here

    Previously, Zebra informed customers that it will no longer produce RFID smart labels. The company stopped accepting new smart label orders on April 30th.
  • Nashua, whose Label Products Division is a leading converter and supplier of RFID smart labels, was acquired by Cenveo in a $44 million deal that was announced this morning. Cenveo is a $2 billion graphics communications company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.
  • BlueStar, an automatic identification, mobile computing and point-of-sale technologies distributor headquartered in Hebron, Kentucky, announced it acquired ADC Nordic, a Swedish firm that distributes similar product lines to resellers throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics.
  • Digital Angel posted positive quarterly EBITDA for the first time in many years, despite a Q1 loss of $670,000. The company, which produces a human implant RFID system for emergency identification and animal identification systems, had $17.8 million in revenue in the quarter. See the results here and the announcement here.
  • Art Channel Galleries, which markets collectable artwork and memorabilia, announced it developed an RFID system to authenticate the products it sells. Its parent company, Artfest International, developed the system, which features embedded RFID tags that are encoded with information about the item, including its origin and production date. System software will hold provenance data and be used to validate authenticity.
  • 3M Track and Trace Solutions has installed a file record tracking system for the Marine Corps Base Hawaii's Installation Personnel Administration Center (IPAC). The system helps manage over 8,000 personnel records. IPAC has seen the time it takes to conduct file inventory plummet from a few days to 2.5 hours. The hope is that IPAC's success with the system will encourage the Marine Corps to expand it to all bases, thereby enabling records to be moved and tracked across bases. More details can be found in the announcement.
  • RFID hardware manufacturer Invengo has announced the XC-2900, a new handheld reader for Gen2 RFID and barcodes. The handheld is equipped with CSM (GRPS), Bluetooth, and WiFi, and its large battery capacity enables eight hours of usage between charges.
  • Semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics has announced that the beta version of a comprehensive hardware development kit (HDK) is now available from Silicon Valley-based Arira Design. The Smart Web Based Sensor HDK will allow companies and designers to build ISO 18000-7-compliant active RFID tag and reader products that incorporate wireless-networking, GPS, and sensor capabilities. More information about the HDK is available from Arira Design here.
  • STMicroelectronics also announced it partnered with Front Edge Technology to add Front Edge's thin rechargeable batteries to RFID tags and other products.
  • The NFC Forum, an industry association that advances the use of near field communication (NFC) technology, announced RFID firms Innovision Research & Technology and STMicroelectronics have become sponsor members and joined its board of directors.
  • CenTrak, a Newton, Pennsylvania based RTLS solutions provider, announced a new tag for use in staff tracking applications. The new Staff Badge is only 3mm thick, which is thin enough to hang behind and on the same lanyard as a personnel badge.
  • ACiG Technology, a supplier of RFID and smart card components with offices in Germany, Brazil and the US, will distribute KSW Microtec's new Thinlam HF inlays for smartcards. See the announcement.
  • IPICO announced it awarded exclusive rights to sell its RFID-based electronic vehicle identification systems in Mexico, Central and South America to International Road Dynamics, a Canadian-headquartered highway traffic management technology company.
Previous RFID Update coverage this week included:
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