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Lockheed Martin Offers RuBee Solution for Monitoring Munitions

The tags and readers, provided by Visible Assets Inc., can be used to identify and track a variety of sensitive items, including fused ordnances, firearms, night-vision goggles and flak jackets.
By Claire Swedberg

VAI has been improving its hardware, says John Stevens, the company's CEO and chairman, and Lockheed Martin will offer the latest version of tags and readers—which can have a read range of 70 feet, and have been tested at a distance of 30 feet underground in optimal conditions (though in the munitions-tracking use case, the standards for safety around explosives result in a shorter read range). The company has been focusing on improving the technology's performance within the military's Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation Ordnance (HERO) standards, and has accomplished a zero Safe Separation Distance (SSD) standard, signifying that the tag can safely be read on potentially explosive devices.

Lockheed Martin entered into conversations with VAI approximately two and a half years ago, Weber says, after Stevens had approached the aerospace and defense company, seeking its input regarding how cellular technology could be used with the RuBee system. After months of discussion, the companies decided to form a partnership in which Lockheed Martin will now sell and install the Visible Assets technology as the prime contractor, while VAI will serve as the subcontractor, providing hardware and software.

A RuBee smart rack
For the DOE, for example, VAI provides solutions for managing the locations of weapons at multiple armories. At this particular armory, weapons are stored for nuclear facility security guards. By installing the RuBee hardware and software, the armories are able to identify which item is located at that armory, as well as what is removed and by whom.

In addition, a division of the DOD is conducting a pilot of the Allegro 20/20 WSC at one of its sites. Lockheed Martin provided the VAI technology, and each time a weapon is fired, the software is updated with that data, providing officials with a record of that weapon's operation and servicing. The system thereby enables them to know when a heavily used weapon is ready for servicing, while another that has been used less frequently may not be.

The partnership with Lockheed Martin will make the products more marketable, both VAI and Lockheed report, since Lockheed has the resources to sell and install solutions on a large scale. "Our business model has been to do the research and development," Stevens states. "We supply those products, and licensing partners sell and install full system." Lockheed Martin has unique engineering and market knowledge, Weber says, with the potential to drive large, enterprise-wide adoptions. VAI has had successful individual facility installations, he adds, but with Lockheed Martin, "The big picture is hundreds of warehouses integrated together."

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