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RFID News Roundup

Tagsys intros UHF tags for textile tracking; Xterprise announces new version of automated RFID app for retail suppliers; EECC delivers updated study on UHF tag performance; Sycuan Casino puts RFID into garment inventory tracking; Meshed Systems, Impinj ink distribution deal.
Jun 02, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Tagsys Intros UHF Tags for Textile Tracking
Tagsys has announced the introduction of a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag for the laundry and textile services industry. Specially designed to withstand harsh industrial laundry processes, the new LinTrak tag, according to Tagsys, supports the EPC Gen 2 standard and has a read range of 10 feet (3 meters). The tag comes in the form of a woven label with a small UHF inlay and a sewn secondary antenna made from a flexible thread-like material. The tag can be integrated into textile products to provide item-level tracking of flat linens, uniforms and other products, the company reports. According to the Tagsys, such tracking enables laundries, textile rental companies and their customers to better manage linen inventories, improve linen utilization, track the number of wash cycles through which each item has been put, count and sort garments, ensure the correct number of items has been shipped and received, and improve loss prevention. LinTrak tags can be produced in a variety of colors, as well as with customized artwork or text. They can survive temperatures up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), the company reports, and are guaranteed for 200 wash cycles or three years. The LinTrak tags are available immediately.

Xterprise Announces New Version of Automated RFID App for Retail Suppliers
Xterprise has announced enhancements to its Clarity Source Tagging (ST) product, designed to help apparel and footwear suppliers more easily fulfill the RFID item-level orders of such retailers as Wal-Mart Stores and JCPenney. Clarity ST is a hosted, Web-based print application that enables suppliers to print and encode RFID labels with unique ID numbers at their facilities. The application also provides suppliers with a number of reports so they can track the total number of tags printed and encoded daily, as well as the total number of tags printed and encoded for each product, the total number of tags printed at various supplier sites, the total number of tags printed on every printer, and more. Clarity ST also works with Xterprise's Clarity Mobile (see Xterprise Releases Mobile RFID Package for Item-Level Tracking) for handheld RFID readers. The updated Clarity ST features a box- and order-auditing enhancement designed to perform an automated audit of case-level contents. The application enhancement can then verify the contents against the order, down to the required item level, and log the results. The Clarity ST application can be deployed at a garment factory or at a distribution center, and can monitor and audit shipments to a DC or directly to a store. Specifically, the enhanced Clarity ST is designed to ensure 100 percent verifications of box packing or case accuracy at the item level; reduce shipment shortages due to a tagged item not being physically inside a container, or a weak tag not being read; reduce shipment overages due to an unexpected tagged item being in a container; provide material-handling equipment control signaling, as well as visual or other manual notification; and integrate with warehouse-management systems. RFID technology alone, without item-level software applications to drive process and inventory-utilization improvements, will not improve the quality of shipments, but will instead just make existing process errors more costly, explains Dean Frew, Xterprise's CEO. The Clarity ST application and the new box and order auditing enhancement are currently deployed using RFID hardware products from Motorola Solutions and Zebra Technologies, and can use a number of RFID inlay and label manufacturers products. Xterprise's Clarity product leverages Microsoft technologies, including .Net, SQL, BizTalk RFID, Windows Mobile and Windows Azure Cloud.

EECC Delivers Updated Study on UHF Tag Performance
The European EPC Competence Center (EECC) has announced a new edition of its UHF Tag Performance Survey (UTPS)—the UTPS Version 2011—that expands the number of transponders the center has tested, including 70 RFID labels and 48 on-metal tags. In addition, three new vendors have been added to the lineup: IER, Tageos and Aero Solutions. The EECC was jointly founded in late 2005 by GS1 Germany and German retailer Metro Group, to support the implementation of RFID and EPCglobal standards. The EECC has completed UTPS studies annually since 2007. The first year, the center tested 20 EPC Gen 2 tag models (see European EPC Competence Center Releases UHF Tag Study). Last year, it tested a total of approximately 70 tags (see EECC Tests Find Big Performance Differences for Tags Read in Bulk). For the 2011 edition, the researchers not only tested an expanded number of transponders tested, but also defined a new metric, the Proximity Stability Indicator (PSI), aimed at improving RFID tag bulk reads through optimized transponder selection that the EECC says has already proven to be a highly useful metric for a wide variety of real-world applications. The PSI, the organization reports, makes it possible to quantify mutual interferences within densely packed transponders populations, a very common scenario in many retail and supply chain applications. In tests that applied the new PSI metric, EECC's engineers found that the performance range of hangtags in apparel applications, for example, was so large that only a few viable candidates remained. Read ranges can decrease by up to 85 percent when some transponders are densely packed, EECC notes. Given that 80 percent of all transponders are advertised as suitable for dense packaging, the center adds, the research findings through the application of the PSI constitute a huge leap forward. What's more, EECC found that successful transponders for in-garment applications were not always the best choice for flat or cardboard attachments. The researchers ultimately determined that the results varied greatly depending on tag orientation, as well as on frequency. The recently released UTPS 2011 includes findings from more than a hundred label and mount-on-metal (MOM) transponders of the latest generation. Overall, EECC conducted well over half a million measurements—which, according to the center, is unprecedented. Given that this new knowledge rests on top of existing insights accrued over the past five years, EECC claims that UTPS is currently the most in-depth RFID report in the world. "We also see broader developments—strategic insights, if you want—such as material changes in transponder performance across time," says Conrad von Bonin, who heads the ECCC. "A transponder's dependence on the underlying materials is decreasing, as far as read range is concerned. At the same time, performance has increased at constant form factors from last year. In essence, tags are becoming increasingly versatile, and thus more universally applicable." Furthermore, almost all transponders use integrated circuits of the latest generation, and the first labels are already produced with an ecological point of view. A printed copy of the UHF Tag Performance Survey 2011 is available as part of a five-year subscription costing €395 ($573) per year, or as a single version for €795 ($1,152).

Sycuan Casino Puts RFID into Garment Inventory Tracking
Sycuan Casino, located 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, and with 2,000 slot machines, 43 gaming tables, poker and bingo areas, live shows and multiple dining options, reports that it plans to upgrade its garment inventory-tracking system to an RFID-enabled solution. InvoTech Systems, a provider of linen and uniform inventory-control systems for hotels, casinos, resorts and theme parks, provided the earlier, bar-code-enabled solution, and is now helping the casino upgrade to its GIMS Ultra-High Frequency RFID Uniform System. The new solution includes Impinj Speedway Revolution readers, with passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags—provided by Fujitsu Frontech North America—sewn into the casino's apparel items. The upgrade is timed to coincide with Sycuan Casino's renovation, and will help track the facility's 20,000 apparel items via bulk electronic scanning, without hand counting. No computer or user input is required; a light flashes to confirm the uniforms were processed into the GIMS Uniform System. InvoTech says it will also provide portable ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID handheld readers for the casino's monthly physical inventory, thereby significantly reducing the amount of time and staff required to perform that task. "We do not have an in-house laundry facility, so it is important we track our team members' garments to control our assets for the tribe," said Vanessa Barbarin, Sycuan Casino's purchasing manager, in a prepared statement. The new UHF RFID system will move Sycuan Casino to the next level of efficiency as we renovate the casino for a new look. The GIMS software will tell us exactly what our spend and savings are, and create a more efficient process. The cost reduction of lost and damaged garments will go directly to the bottom line." InvoTech's RFID-enabled tracking system is already being used by other parties as well, including MSR-FSR, which offers laundry services for clean-room coveralls (see RFID Tracks Clean-Room Laundry for High-Tech Companies).

Meshed Systems, Impinj Ink Distribution Deal
European RFID specialist Meshed Systems has signed on as a distributor for ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solutions provider Impinj. Under the terms of the agreement, Meshed Systems will handle the distribution of Impinj RFID readers and antennas throughout the German-speaking regions of Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). "Meshed Systems is extremely proud to offer Impinj products to our RFID system integrators and VARs," said Michael E. Wernle, Meshed Systems' founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "Impinj technology strengthens our European market presence with industry-leading RFID components that further our commitment to providing the widest and most diverse line of RFID products in this region." According to Impinj, the distribution agreement helps strengthen the company's strategy to develop its presence worldwide in such key vertical markets as retail, logistics, health care and government.
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