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RFID News Roundup

Interop to use Ekahau RTLS to track IT staff, equipment; Michigan school to track emergencies; Zebra Technologies launches Rack & Container Solution for automotive sector; Localtel, ISRA Cards work on NFC solution for the hospitality industry; iZipline, Evrythng develop NFC RFID product-packaging solution; Identec Solutions and Savi sign reseller agreement; Michigan Dept. of Agriculture fines livestock haulers for RFID violations.
By Beth Bacheldor
Sep 26, 2013

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Ekahau; Zebra Technologies; Localtel, ISRA Cards; iZipline, Evrythng; Identec Solutions, Savi Technology; and Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Interop to Use Ekahau RTLS to Track IT Staff, Equipment; Michigan School to Track Emergencies
At next week's Interop IT expo and conference in New York City, Ekahau's RFID-over-Wi-Fi real-time location system (RTLS) will be used to help locate Interop's IT network operations center (NOC) employees and equipment. Ekahau's RTLS, which consists of Ekahau's Wi-Fi-based RFID tags, infrared (IR) beacons to make location data more granular and Ekahau's Vision software, will leverage New York City's Jacob Javits Center's Xirrus high-performance Wi-Fi infrastructure. Interop NOC employees managing the Jacob Javits Center's Xirrus wireless network will wear Ekahau RFID-over-Wi-Fi badges, allowing technical staff to text one another and locate each other on virtual, Web-based floor plans of the 675,000-square-foot facility, according to Ekahau. The RTLS also will be used to track IT equipment, and the Ekahau Vision software will be used to help Interop's managers analyze traffic patterns and effectively plan for future events. In other news, at Washington's Grandview Middle School has implemented Ekahau's RFID-over-Wi-Fi RTLS to help in the event of an emergency. School staff have the wearable badges with the active RFID capability, which feature a panic button solution they can simply pull down in the event of an emergency. This automatically sends their location and other emergency details to nearby teachers and local dispatchers. If an alert is issued, Ekahau's Vision software captures and interprets the location and other information. Within seconds, the software transmits a message directly to the appropriate badges within the facility, thereby informing other personnel regarding the emergency's nature and room-level location of where it is occurring. The Ekahau RTLS solution leveraged the school's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, eliminating the need to install devices to read the tags. Grandview Police dispatchers can also log in to Ekahau Vision RTLS software to send mass notification text messages to Ekahau badge-holders, without dependence on cellular networks, according to Ekahau. In addition, Ekahau software automatically records and time-stamps all emergency events, tracking where they occurred, who responded and resolutions, for review by the school board and police, the company says. Other schools employing the Ekahau RTLS to bolster emergency responses include Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring, Va. (see RFID News Roundup: Virginia High School Installs Ekahau's RFID Solution to Bolster Emergency Responses, and Idaho's Skyview High School (see Idaho School Installs RTLS to Make Students Safer).

Zebra Technologies Launches Rack & Container Solution for Automotive Sector
Zebra Technologies announced the commercial release of its Rack & Container management solution—a manufacturing execution system (MES) designed for automotive manufacturers to help them more efficiently track the location, status, condition and history of each reusable rack and container within the automotive supply chain. The solution is aimed at helping the automotive industry cut costs associated with lost and damaged racks and containers, which are made to be reused across the automotive supply chain to transport parts and assemblies. The Rack & Container solution combines passive RFID tags and readers, real-time location systems (RTLS) and visibility software to give manufacturers access to precise information on the location and condition of the racks and containers flowing through their operations, according to Zebra. The solution is designed to solve the core problems facing automotive manufacturers, including the inability to find the exact location of rack and container fleets, the inaccurate count of empty versus full containers, severe rack damage requiring costly, time-consuming maintenance and repair, and the inability to track receipt of new rack fleets. The solution provides real-time location reports, mapping of racks and configurable alerts when racks go into incorrect areas of the supply chain trail, according to Zebra. Reports can be created to give schedulers a real-time count of empty, useable or significantly damaged racks on site, alleviating the need for time-consuming physical counts by plant employees. With the use of active or passive RFID tags, shipments can be tracked and queried to confirm when racks were received on site, as well as record their current location and condition, thus allowing accurate audits of large and in-service orders, the company said. Zebra has been offering RTLS solutions for tracking containers and racks for several years now; in fact, Ford has used WhereNet RTLS (now owned by Zebra) to track racks since at least 2005 (see Adding RFID to Ford's Supply Chain). But Adebayo Onigbanjo, senior product marketing manager at Zebra, explains that the new Rack & Container solution is focused on the exact business rules and processes experienced during a life cycle of racks and containers. "The applications out there today are generic asset-tracking applications that have been applied to tracking racks and containers," Onigbanjo says. "The Zebra application takes into full consideration the specific life-cycle management of a rack or container to provide not just inventory count visibility but more specifically status and condition visibility." For example, managers responsible for managing stamping operations can go to the application and select a part number they intend to run in stamping, and based on this selection, the system will indicate how many racks within the facility are available to support that particular part number. The system will also provide a detailed analysis of how many production runs the manager can actually perform. "This information has a direct impact on the production schedule for the whole facility and provides OEMs with a new level of insight and detail beyond what is currently available in the market place," says Onigbanjo. In the past, Zebra's tracking technology (consisting the company's WhereNet tags as well as its Dart ultrawide-band RTLS technology) has been applied to track racks and container using Zebra's Visibility Server Software (VSS), but this only provided location visibility. "It did not understand the business rules or take into consideration the life cycle management, dwell times or statues of the racks which this new application does," Onigbanjo adds.

Localtel, ISRA Cards Work on NFC Solution for the Hospitality Industry
Locatel an integrator of Internet, mobile and TV solutions for the hospitality industry in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA), are working on a Near Field Communications (NFC) solution designed to enable hotel guests to use their phones for accessing and instantly purchasing a variety of hotel services. Locatel Live Access gives hotel guests instant and authenticated access and purchasing of hotel services by scanning digital NFC tags with their smartphones, according to the two companies. For example, guests could use their phones to scan tags embedded in interactive panels in public areas of a hotel or to scan NFC tags installed in their rooms to access personalized services. VIP cards with NFC tags could be scanned for instant access to a hotel's exclusive services. Localtel is working with ISRA Cards, a company that specializes in card and NFC technologies, to create a customizable and scaleable solution for hoteliers. The NFC Live Access solution is designed to simplify access to various services, including TV and Internet access and taxicabs. In this way, the goal is to enable a better adoption of these services, and a faster return on investment for our hotel clients.

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