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RFID Weekly News Roundup -- July 30, 2009

A major military contract award highlights this week's news, which also includes financial results from several industry leaders, expanded activity at METRO Group and CHEP, plus new product and partnership announcements.
Jul 30, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 30, 2009—This week's roundup includes several of the usual suspects. There was a major contract award by the US Department of Defense, news from METRO and CHEP about expansion of their supply chain programs, new research from ABI and VDC, plus some quarterly financial results that were mixed.
  • This week the U.S. Department of Defense awarded its AIT-IV contracts, which cover spending on a variety of data collection technologies, including RFID. AIT contracts do not have minimum purchase commitments but are typically among the largest military spending contracts issued and involve multiple suppliers. AIT-IV authorizes spending up to $418.5 million and allows contract holders to sell to multiple branches of the U.S. military, other federal agencies, NATO and other allies. So far Intermec and CDO Technologies have confirmed they have been included in the AIT-IV contract. Intermec announced its PM4i RFID printer/encoder plus other printers, handheld computers and bar code readers were included in the contract. CDO Technologies said it was the first non-hardware provider to win an award. In its announcement CDO Technologies lists multiple partners it will include in its contract, including RFID providers Motorola and Zebra Technologies.
  • European retail leader METRO Group is reportedly expanding its RFID activities in Asia. Checkpoint Systems, which supplies RFID technology to METRO, announced 75 METRO suppliers in China and India will begin applying RFID labels to shipments sent to the retailer. The move is an expansion of METRO's "Tag It Easy!" program, which already has 100 participants.

    "Since the program's inception, the processing of incoming goods at warehouses and stores has been accelerated considerably and read rates using UHF EPC Gen2 tags have been highly satisfactory," METRO Group IT executive Dr. Gerd Wolfram said in the announcement. "Time-consuming manual counts are no longer necessary, and that means goods get to the individual stores much faster and easier. Our ultimate goal is to optimize both the efficiency and effectiveness of supply chain management. The key to achieving this lies in maximizing transparency in the flow of products and information upstream and downstream throughout the supply chain. This project has the capability of achieving such a transparency."
  • Standards bodies and market development organizations AIM Global and AIM North America announced a new structure intended to make their services more accessible and valuable to manufacturers, integrators, consultants and others involved in the automated data collection and enterprise mobile computing industry. The reorganization includes a new dues structure and the blending of AIM Global and AIM North America activities under the single AIM umbrella. "We believe many companies within the auto ID industry want to be part of the collective voice and influence provided by participation in AIM, and the restructuring will allow more companies to enter at price points designed for their budgets," AIM North America board chairman Chuck Evanhoe was quoted in the announcement.
  • CHEP MEA, a division of leading international pallet pooling services firm CHEP, will include battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags on pallets managed for automotive and retail customers in South Africa. Israeli tag producer PowerID announced its Gen2-standard BAP tags were selected for the program to track pallets in challenging environments.
  • The Reusable Packaging Association has posted an FAQ about its study that found RFID tags are well suited to be reused for container tracking.
  • In its latest research note, VDC Research profiles the managed services model for RFID deployment and identifies its growth opportunities and obstacles.
  • More than 400 million wearable wireless sensors, including types incorporating RFID technology, will be in use by 2014 according to a report released this week by ABI Research. The market research firm said 90 percent of the wearable wireless sensors used today are for sports and fitness applications, but healthcare applications to support in-home monitoring and telemedicine will account for a large part of the market in coming years.
  • The University of Miami UM-JMH Center for Patient Safety automatically records when employees wash their hands by using RFID and infrared sensors embedded in soap dispensers that read staff ID badges when employees are at sinks. The center uses the data to monitor compliance with hand washing policies as part of an effort to improve hygiene and reduce the risk of infections. Versus Technology and Dynamic Computer created and implemented the system. See their announcement for more details.
  • Mastec, an Australian manufacturer of recycling and refuse bins, is integrating RFID tags into its containers to help waste management firms track activity. Each bin has a unique ID number encoded in an RFID tag that is associated with a customer address. When waste management workers empty the bins they record the activity using a mobile RFID reader from Tracient Technologies that connects via Bluetooth to a Motorola handheld computer, which updates the customer database at headquarters in real time over a wide area wireless connection. Previously, customers were billed each week regardless if trash and recycling was put out for pickup, but now they are only billed when bins are emptied. Tracient, an Australian RFID solution provider, said the system has been running six months and recently posted a case study on its web site.
  • Invengo introduced a fixed position RFID reader with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPRS wireless connectivity. The multiple wireless connectivity options mean the new 860E reader can be used without Ethernet or other connecting cables. The Gen2-standard reader includes the Indy RFID processor from Impinj and is available for use in the US and Asia.
  • Printer manufacturer Lexmark announced an add-on to its existing T654 monochrome laser printer that enables RFID label printing capabilities.
  • IDENTEC SOLUTIONS announced it expanded its long range active RFID portfolio with six new tags that support the ISO 18000-7 standard. The products were developed to meet US Department of Defense requirements but will also be marketed for other asset tracking applications. For more information about ISO 18000-7 technology see DASH7 Alliance Forms to Advance Active RFID Standard.
  • Silicon Valley engineering firm Comit Systems and GreenPeak Technologies, a Netherlands fabless semiconductor company that develops battery-free wireless sensors, announced they are working together to develop wireless mesh networking systems based on the ZigBee standard. They plan to develop systems that use energy harvesting to enable battery-free wireless network communication.
  • Chip maker STMicroelectronics and communication protocol software developer Stollmann announced they are collaborating to develop and market turnkey NFC solutions for manufacturers of handsets and consumer mobile devices.
  • Jackson Health System in Miami expanded its RTLS system and now has wireless tracking throughout more than 4.4 million square feet, its RTLS provider Awarepoint announced.
  • Better Online Solutions announced its BOS-Dimex RFID and mobile division was selected by Unilever to update wireless data collection systems at the consumer product maker's warehouse in Israel.
  • Baird financial analyst and RFID Monthly author Reik Read asks Could RFID Help Support Electronic Health Records? in an analyst brief posted this week.
  • RFID Global Solution has joined Zebra Enterprise Solutions' partner program and will resell the latter's RFID and RTLS products. In the announcement the firms also said they jointly deployed a tracking system for a military customer.
  • Longtime RFID industry executive Tony Sabetti joined NXP as senior director for business development in North America. See the announcement.
  • InSync Software announced its RFID, GPS and related systems will be distributed in India by Honeywell Automation India (HAIL).
  • Japan's Runners Inc. will distribute RFID-based sports timing systems from IPICO Sports in Japan, IPICO announced.
  • Netherlands-headquartered RFID transponder maker SMARTRAC announced six-month financial results highlighted by a 19 percent increase in sales, to €59.1 million, and a 77 percent decline in profits. The company said market volatility impacted production efficiency and that it expects business improvement in the second half of the year.
  • Avery Dennison and Motorola each announced second-quarter results but neither firm commented on their RFID businesses, which account for a small percentage of overall revenue at each company. Intermec was scheduled to release its quarterly results after press time on Thursday.
  • Previously this week RFID Update covered battery manufacturer Blue Spark Technologies' closing of the first $1.5 million of an anticipated $5 million round of Series B funding. The new funding will be used to support production ramp-up for large volumes of battery-assisted passive RFID tags (see Flexible Battery Maker Lands Funding for RFID Production).
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