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Harting's LocField Reader Antenna Promises Flexible Read Range

The antenna—in the form of a coax cable bendable into any shape—could be installed along a shelf or rack, within a vehicle, or around a machine's interior, to create a precise read zone.
By Claire Swedberg

Many of the integrators, Regtmeier reports, have been requesting an increasing number of the prototype LocField antennas to test in a wide variety of settings. "The systems integrators are keen on getting as many antennas as they can get," he says.

According to Regtmeier, at least three of the systems integrators are exploring how the technology could be used to track equipment loaded inside vehicles. In the case of a vehicle filled with tools, for example, a single RFID reader with patch antennas might not be able to interrogate all UHF tags within that vehicle, whereas installing a LocField antenna running throughout the vehicle could resolve that problem. Several systems integrators are also testing the antennas for use in retailer smart-shelf applications, while two are considering utilizing the antennas in manufacturing equipment, such as inside injection molding or packaging machines containing dozens of distinct modules that are inserted or removed based on the specific function the machine is providing for a particular order. In this scenario, the modules could be tagged with UHF RFID tags, and the antenna would be used with a reader to identify all modules within that machine.

Harting's Jan Regtmeier
At present, Regtmeier says, the technology is being tested by systems integrators in Germany, the United Kingdom, parts of Eastern Europe and the United States. He expects LocField antennas will be sold worldwide once testing is completed later this summer, he adds.

"Our next step," Regtmeier states, "is to see if the customers are satisfied with the antenna. So far, we've been seeing excellent reading results." Many of the systems integrators have asked about customizing the antenna's length, which Harting can accommodate. For example, some may need a 15- or 20-foot version for a specific use case. The read distance depends on the reader's power, he explains. A reader transmitting a signal at 2 watts EIRP would provide a read range with a radius of 3 to 4 feet encircling the antenna, while a 4-watt reader would be able to double that read range.

The LocField antennas will be priced at about $275 to $400 apiece, Regtmeier says, depending on their length and diameter.

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