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Argo Wireless Creates Item-Level Solution for Small Businesses

Targeting small and midsize product manufacturers, the company has designed an all-inclusive solution that includes RFID tags, readers, software, middleware and services.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 01, 2011Two years ago, drawing on his experience providing item-level RFID tagging as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Jason Catchings launched a company called Argo Wireless to develop an inexpensive, all-inclusive item-level tagging solution for manufacturers of apparel or other products, as well as for government agencies. The result, known as SourceTag, is intended to provide businesses and agencies with a complete radio frequency identification solution that includes passive EPC Gen 2 RFID labels, a variety of reader stations for different functions, Argo Wireless' EventLogix software to manage and interpret data from each read event, and RiFidi middleware from Pramari to manage low-level reader data and business logic. Argo Wireless will also provide a variety of services, such as integrating the RFID solution with a customer's existing order-management system or other software applications.

Catchings believes that most RFID solutions currently on the market are affordable only by large companies. "Many of the smaller manufacturers are left out," he says, due to the expense of installing a system that requires assistance from multiple hardware, software or middleware vendors or integrators.

Argo Wireless' SourceTag solution includes a packing station.

The SourceTag system's EventLogix software can generate Electronic Product Code (EPC) numbers so that a company can print and encode RFID labels in-house. Or, if requested, Argo Wireless will supply labels preprinted and pre-encoded, and also link the tag ID numbers with stock-keeping units (SKUs) and other product information in the EventLogix software. "The system is highly customizable," Catchings states. EventLogix can reside on a user's back-end system, though he believes it more likely that users will opt for the hosted server, on which all information can be stored and accessed for a monthly fee.

Argo Wireless currently offers two different reader stations—one for managing the packing of products into cardboard boxes, and another for shipping. In the future, the company plans to offer other stations as well, such as for printing, and for encoding tags in bulk. The packing station—basically, a small work cubicle approximately 3 feet long and 2.5 feet wide—is designed to be installed on one end of a conveyor line. Mounted within that station could be a single Impinj RFID reader wired to Impinj reader antennas, though the number of readers and antennas installed in a single station would vary according to the needs of a particular application. The station is enclosed on three sides by heavy, industrial RF-absorbent plastic material (designed to shield RF transmissions and thereby help prevent the reading of tags affixed to items located outside the station).

The packing station is intended to be used during the packing process of newly manufactured products. A worker places an empty carton (fitted with an RFID tag) inside the station, and then stacks tagged garments beside it. As that employee packs tagged garments into the box to fill a specific order, the station's reader captures all unique ID numbers. The EventLogix software then compares those IDs against the order, and a touch screen attached to the station displays either a green indicator (to approve the packing process) or a red indicator (to alert the worker to a mistake). "We expect that a typical project will require integration with a company's existing systems to pull order-related data," Catchings explains. The carton's RFID tag would also be read, and would be married to each item contained within as the box is sealed for shipping.

One side of the packing station is hinged, enabling it to function as a swinging door. Once a case is filled and sealed, the worker can simply push it out through the swinging door and onto the conveyor line before placing the next empty box into the station and filling it with products.

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