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RFID News Roundup

InvoTech launches wireless handheld RFID solution for linens, uniforms; RAND Corp. publishes EC-funded report on RFID's environmental impact and use in recycling; Montie Design releases portable RFID Field Detector; Merrick opens subsidiary in Oslo, Norway, to serve Europe's oil and gas industry; Altierre unveils e-paper product line of digital price tags, signs; French agency releases study on supermarket pricing errors.
Jul 19, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

InvoTech Launches Wireless Handheld RFID Solution for Linens, Uniforms
InvoTech Systems, a provider of linen and uniform inventory-control solutions for hotels, casinos, resorts, theme parks and sports arenas, has announced the launch of its new GIMS mobile inventory software for portable ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID handheld readers. The new system is designed to streamline laundry processing, the company reports, since it provides "instant inventory" of bulk linens, storerooms and uniform carts. Employees can use the GIMS mobile inventory software installed on a Motorola Solutions MC3190-Z handheld RFID reader, to reduce labor costs by creating a more efficient inventory process, according to the company. The portable reader instantly identifies UHF RFID tags attached to items without the need for hand-sorting, and then remotely communicates linen and uniform counts and locations to the GIMS database via a Wi-Fi connection, enabling staff members throughout a property to access the updated information immediately. At hospitals, the use of the GIMS mobile software and handheld interrogator can protect employees from possible contamination, by identifying, counting and recording which scrubs are located in bio-hazard containers, without workers coming into contact with those garments. In hotel and casino laundry operations, the GIMS handheld can scan and inventory entire storerooms and laundry carts filled with uniforms and linens wirelessly, and then send instant, real-time updates to the property database. InvoTech recently demonstrated its new, portable handheld reader at the grand opening of the Fujitsu Solutions Center, held at Fujitsu Frontech North America's headquarters in Foothill Ranch, Calif. The two companies are already partners: InvoTech's GIMS UHF RFID systems for tracking uniforms and linens leverages Fujitsu Frontech's rubber-encapsulated labels that can be sewn into every uniform, linen or towel. Each tag has a unique ID number linked in the GIMS software to the particular type of item, as well as to its laundering history. During the demonstration, Fujitsu showcased the GIMS software operating on Fujitsu Frontech's NuVola Cloud appliance, in order to demonstrate "anywhere" inventory updates via remote UHF RFID tracking devices. The demonstration was used to instantly process bulk uniforms, linens and hospital scrubs, illustrating how the MC3190-Z handheld, integrated with GIMS mobile software, can save time and increase staff productivity. The GIMS mobile inventory software communicated remotely to the GIMS database via a Wi-Fi connection, wirelessly transmitting its data directly to the cloud. The updated information, which can be instantly shared by many different resources to monitor activity and inventory levels, was connected to a Microsoft Windows-based tablet at the demonstration.

RAND Corp. Publishes EC-Funded Report on RFID's Environmental Impact and Use in Recycling
RAND Corp. has published a new report intended to clarify issues and evidence relating to the environmental impacts and recycling methods of radio frequency identification tags, assess RFID's environmental advantages for product lifecycle management and examine how the technology is used in waste-management and recycling processes. The report was funded by the European Commission (EC), and one of its goals is to identify the associated obstacles and requirements for policy action and research activity. The report, titled "Smart Trash: Study on RFID Tags and the Recycling Industry," was led by RAND Europe, and was conducted in partnership with RWTH Aachen University's Department of Processing and Recycling and consulting group P3 Ingenieurgesellschaft. The study took into account near-term developments that may impact RFID tag recycling (such as new methods for detecting, removing, sequestering and processing them), as well as longer-term developments (including new forms of recyclable tags, as well as new methods of affixing tags that will permit all tags to be recycled). With regard to tags being used in recycling programs, the study examined data from near-term developments that involve extending and combining existing pilots, and how the future deployment of RFID as part of improved waste-handling processes may alter user behavior, business models and the emergence of intermediary markets for aspects of smart waste handling. The study also considered changes in vertical integration along the end-of-life (EOL) product chain. In addition, the authors noted how policies might adapt to new possibilities, particularly in regard to traceability and waste stream measurement. Longer-term possibilities, the study reports, may include novel whole-systems approaches to waste handling and, eventually, new forms of integrated lifecycle management. Regarding the use of RFID tags in waste and recycling, especially for EOL applications, the study recommends that while it is important to provide regulatory certainty to encourage beneficial developments, it is equally vital not to inhibit or foreclose beneficial progress by legislating too soon, or by adopting inflexible rules tied too closely to specific technologies or use cases. Among the more specific issue areas for policy intervention or consideration are a strong understanding of where value is created and where it is captured in the value chain, and increased knowledge of the effects of RFID tags on waste (for example, the aluminum antennas of RFID tags can reduce the amount and/or quality of recycled glass if the antennas cannot be separated within the process). In addition, the study recommends that technical requirements for RFID to become effective for EOL include the need for products' tags to be accessible during the entire life-cycle, including the period after those objects enter the waste-management process, until the point at which the information is no longer required. Privacy and security are also highlighted as important considerations, and concerns may be addressed by providing individuals with a clear opportunity to choose RFID tags that are removable, or that contain a kill or partial kill-switch, the study adds. Finally, the report indicates that mandating the tag-based or online accessibility of environmental information via identifiers stored on tags could promote environmentally informed consumer choices, and thus encourage better recycling of certain materials or objects. The study applied a number of different quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including systematic literature reviews, key informant interviews, use cases and case-study analysis, and scenario development. In addition to the study, the EC's DG CONNECT agency, which covers communications networks, content and technology, is launching a community of interest of RFID use in waste management, for which the main platform is www.rfid-waste.ning.com.

Montie Design Releases Portable RFID Field Detector
Montie Design, a product design and development firm headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., has announced a new troubleshooting tool designed to help RFID technology users identify where their 900 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID portals and readers can, or cannot, read tags. The new RFID Field Detector, which is smaller than a smartphone and is powered by three AAA batteries, shows where an RFID field is strong or weak, via a series of seven LED lights on the ultra-thin, simple tool. The RFID Field Detector is being sold online for $60 by Montie Gear, a division of Montie that also markets outdoor gear and firearms. The company reports that it can also create a custom Field Detector calibrated to a specific make and model of RFID tag, and feature the tag supplier's logo. In addition, the firm manufactures a battery-free RFID Troubleshooting Tool, consisting of a plastic card (about the size of a credit card) containing a single LED that illuminates when the card is located within 2 inches to 2 feet of a reader antenna emitting a 900 MHz signal with a minimum power of 500 milliwatts.

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