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RFID News Roundup

Invengo raises investment capital; Intelleflex intros product-level monitoring for perishable food, pharmaceutical cold chain; Truecount Corp. joins Motorola Solutions Channel Program; Siemens intros rugged RFID components; Mojix Star System passes RFID tests at Metro Group Future Store Initiative; Singapore hospital and partners to develop RFID-enabled drug delivery system.
Nov 18, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Invengo Raises Investment Capital
Chinese RFID company Invengo Technology Corp. Ltd., has announced plans to raise up to 817.7 million yuan ($123.3 million) through a private placement of not more than 34 million shares at 24.72 yuan ($3.73) per share. The newly offered shares—priced less than the current price per share of 31.03 yuan ($4.68)—can not be traded for 12 months, and are only available to fewer than 10 specified investment institutes, according to Phil Calderbank, the company's VP of sales and marketing. The offering price, he says, is the average of Invengo's trading prices over the 30 trading days prior to the announcement date. The goal is to raise money so Invengo can continue investing in five key projects, and the company expects that the investment capital required by those projects will hit 792 million yuan ($119.4 million). The projects include chip design and the commercialization of the Internet of Things, RFID handhelds, a management system for RFID-based railway vehicle parts, research and development into an automated library system and tracking devices for trains. The company expects to finish the sale and put the money into use by June 2011. "The industry of the Internet of Things, together with RFID, has been a national industrial strategy of China," Calderbank says, "and the public's and investors' interest are great."

Intelleflex Intros Product-Level Monitoring for Perishable Food, Pharmaceutical Cold Chain
Intelleflex has introduced two new additions to its product family: the HMR-9090 handheld and the FMR-6000 fixed reader. Both models work with Intelleflex's battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags, which are based on the company's XC3 technology that is compatible with the ISO/IEC 18000-6 and EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID standards. The tags are designed for temperature monitoring, asset tracking and other applications, to enable wireless, on-demand, product-level monitoring. According to the company, the technology enables the tags to have a read distances up to 100 meters (328 feet) in open air, or to be readable in RF-challenging environments that include metals, liquids and inside packages and containers. The company reports that its patented technology is uniquely suited for the cold supply chain, in which product-level monitoring is critical but has been cost-prohibitive to date. "As a result of inadequate temperature monitoring, producers, shippers and grocers continue to see excessive product shrink through perishable-food waste, with comparable impact to the biopharmaceutical supply chain," said Peter Mehring, Intelleflex's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Intelleflex gives cold-chain providers the tools they need to actively manage product in-transit—resulting in reduced shrink, higher product quality and safety verification—and improved efficiency throughout the cold chain." The XC3 technology is, in part, the result of pilots conducted with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, which three years ago was testing RFID to provide traceability for produce shipped from local Hawaiian farms through the supply chain and to retail stores. Last month, the department indicated it is preparing a new pilot to test whether temperature sensors in RFID tags, attached to reusable plastic pallets, would enable members of the produce supply chain to monitor the conditions of products as they are shipped from one Hawaiian island to another (see Hawaiian Group Readies Cold-Chain RFID Pilot). "In-pallet monitoring of produce temperatures—all the way from the warehouse to the retailer—will enable us to ensure a high-quality product for consumers," said Dr. John Ryan, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's quality assurance administrator, in the statement. The Intelleflex handheld and fixed interrogators, as well as the firm's suite of Extended Capability RFID tags, are available today. The company has also announced the availability of the Intelleflex Starter Kit, which enables end users to pilot and test applications in the lab, or in real-world conditions. Pricing for the Intelleflex Starter Kit begins at $2,495, and the kit includes one FMR-6000 fixed reader and one pair of antennas and cables—or one HMR-9090 handheld reader—in addition to five STT-8000 tags, five SMT-8100 tags, five TMT-8500 tags, five BAT-8300 badge tags, software for piloting applications and product documentation.

Truecount Corp. Joins Motorola Solutions Channel Program
Truecount, a startup provider of RFID software solutions for the retail industry, has announced that it has joined Motorola Solutions' Partner Program. As a member of Motorola's channel program, Truecount will be able to leverage Motorola's RFID technology in its solutions aimed at helping retail clients reduce inventory and replenishment-related expenses, while boosting efficiencies and supply chain visibility, the company reports. Truecount was launched last month by Zander Livingston, who spearheaded efforts by American Apparel to employ passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to expedite that retailer's operations (see American Apparel's RFID Guru Launches RFID Software Startup). "Implementing Truecount's leading-edge software platform, designed specifically for retailers, in combination with Motorola's award-winning hardware, retailers can achieve unprecedented control over inventory and related workflows," Livingston said in a prepared statement announcing the Motorola partnership. "Together, we reduce the costs and complexities of tracking assets throughout the supply chain with substantial uplifts in sales, customer satisfaction and ROI." As part of Motorola Solutions' channel program, Truecount says it will continue to focus on scalable, flexible RFID solutions for retailers of all sizes, from tier-two firms to the largest global chains.

Siemens Intros Rugged RFID Components
Siemens' Industry Automation division has added a mobile reader, new antennas and heat-resistant, compact RFID tags to its ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID product portfolio. The Simatic RF640A antenna, which measures dimensions of 185 millimeters by 185 millimeters by 45 millimeters (7.3 inches by 7.3 inches by 1.8 inches), operates using circular polarization, whereas the RF642A model with the same dimensions uses linear polarization. Depending on the reader utilized, the antennas' range can be up to 4 meters (13 feet). Both antennas meet the high requirements of degree of protection IP67, meaning they are dustproof and waterproof, and are designed for operating temperatures ranging from -25 degrees to +75 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees to +167 degrees Fahrenheit). The new Simatic RF680M mobile UHF RFID reader, compliant with the EPC Gen 2, ISO 18000-6B and ISO 18000-6C standards, includes a color display with VGA resolution (640x480 pixels) and an ergonomic keypad, Siemens reports. The transmit power of the RFID module has been increased to 500 milliwatts of effective radiated power, the CPU performance has been increased to 624 MHz and the memory has been expanded to 1 GB flash. The pre-installed RF600 software provides service and test functions for reading and writing on data carriers and smart labels. An application programming interface (API) library is also included, the company reports, and with these APIs, a customer can create custom RFID applications for the mobile reader. The RF680M employs the standard Windows CE operating system, so it can be integrated into existing IT networks and process infrastructures. It has an IP65 rating, which means it is protected against dust and low-pressure jets of water from all directions, making it suitable for use in particularly harsh industrial environments, such as production logistics or warehouse management, Siemens indicates. Finally, the firm has introduced the heat-resistant Simatic RF680L Smart Label, which complies with the ISO 18 000-6C and EPC Gen 2 standards, is designed to tolerate one hour at temperatures of up to 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit) or six hours at temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), making it suitable for such industrial applications as painting lines and other high-temperature applications, Siemens adds. The label's high-memory capacity expands the application area, and has a memory capacity of 240 bits for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and a further 512 bits for user data.

Mojix Star System Passes RFID Tests at Metro Group Future Store Initiative
Mojix has announced that its RFID-enabled system was used in numerous tests during the past year and a half, conducted through German retailer Metro Group's Future Store Initiative. Mojix's STAR system, unveiled in 2008 (see Mojix Takes Passive UHF RFID to a New Level), consists of a distributed network of transmitters, known as eNodes, to power up passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, as well as a single STAR receiver to pick up the tags' signals. Metro Group has been a pioneer in RFID, and continues to test the technology in order to improve on its efficiency. The retailer says it plans to increase its use of RFID in the coming years, and ultimately plans to rollout RFID gradually throughout the group's logistics and warehouse management. The Mojix tests took place during the past 18 months at Metro Group's RFID Innovation Center in Neuss, Germany. Case and pallet tests that included dock door portals were conducted first, according to a Mojix spokesperson, and item-level apparel testing was done more recently. The STAR system, Mojix reports, achieved read rates of 99 percent of item-level RFID tagged apparel in a Gerry Weber retail store setting within the Innovation Center. The testing replicated the environment of a typical apparel store, with tagged items including various types of hanging and stacked garments and accessories. In the case and pallet testing, which included RFID-challenging goods, as well as various pallet configurations comprising hundreds of items and mixed goods tagged at the case level, the Mojix STAR system achieved comparable and slightly better read performance than conventional passive RFID readers tested, the company indicates. "In the Mojix system tests, we were able to achieve a new benchmark for read rate performance of passive RFID in area coverage applications, which is a key enabler for the truly reliable RFID performance essential in item-level inventory management, as well as shipping and receiving operations involving fast moving and RFID challenging goods," said Christian Plenge, Metro Systems' head of architecture, integration and innovation, in a prepared statement. "New business insights and many operational process improvements can be empowered by this new generation of RFID technology."

Singapore Hospital and Partners to Develop RFID-enabled Drug Delivery System
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is partnering with EurekaPlus, a provider of security and surveillance systems, Innotech Resources, a label and inlay conversion manufacturer, and PSB Technologies, an electronics and semiconductor manufacturer, to design, develop and implement an intelligent RFID prescription-drug delivery system. This system, expected to be ready at the end of 2011, will streamline the workflow and fully automate SGH's drug labeling, conveying and dispensing operations. The partnership is part of an initiative led by Spring Singapore, a government agency responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow. The SGH project's efforts to design an automated, RFID-enabled drug-delivery system will enable the hospital to significantly improve the efficiency and service levels of its outpatient pharmacy, according to a fact sheet released by SGH. The plan is to replace the current practice of packing prescription medications, which is laborious and time-consuming. Pharmacy technicians must physically move around the drug storage areas to locate and pack patients' prescription medications sequentially, and the packed medications are placed into baskets, then are checked and sorted according to queue sequence before being forwarded to dispensing counters, to be administered to patients. The manual process is susceptible to human errors, such as packing the wrong drug, strength and so forth; according to the fact sheet, the goal of the automated system is to help alleviate many of these issues. The new RFID-enabled system will fully automate the prescription-fulfillment process, by tracking RFID-tagged receptacles containing prescription medications in real time throughout the medication packing and assembly process, starting with the paper prescription and ending with the medication delivered to pharmacists at dispensing counters. "SGH is continuously exploring innovative systems to improve work process and operational efficiency," said Ang Chong Lye, SGH's CEO, in a prepared statement. "The design and implementation of the RFID prescription drug delivery system is a collaborative partnership that involves the tapping of expertise from various sectors. Automating the system will enable us to significantly improve efficiency of prescription dispensing, patient safety and service levels of our outpatient pharmacy."
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