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SML Opens U.S. RFID Technology & Innovation Center
The facility features a simulated factory, warehouse and store where end users can view how RFID technology is used, as well as a laboratory for testing and innovating, and a production facility for new inlays.
The simulations at the North Carolina and U.K. centers employ Xterprise's Clarity software, along with SML tags and readers, to show end users how the technology can track goods as they are first tagged at the manufacturing site, and then move through a warehouse, the back of a store, onto store shelves and through to the point of sale, says Paul Knepper, the marketing director of Xterprise, a controlling interest of which SML acquired in 2013 (see SML Group Buys Software Company Xterprise). The center also includes a laboratory containing an anechoic chamber that can be used to test the functionality of RFID tags and readers in stacked and hanging applications for retailers.
Additionally, the center offers what SML calls its RFID Training Academy, a program that customers can attend to learn about best practices and innovations in RFID, and to gain experience with SML tags and the Clarity software.
The reason Clarity works well in these demo centers, Knepper says, "is that the software is hardware-agnostic." This, he explains, allows greater flexibility for end users to choose the appropriate configurations to best suit their needs. The technology center, he adds, can display various fixed and handheld configurations for receiving, auditing or other tasks, "all working on the same [Clarity] platform."
Although Calderbank declines to reveal the number of inlays that the North Carolina site would produce, he says it will play an important role in SML's company-wide expansion of EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag production growth. For example, he reports, throughout the past three years, the company has grown from producing no inlays to manufacturing 500 million annually. During the next three years, he says, it expects to further expand to producing 1.5 billion tags per year worldwide.
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