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The IoT Challenge

As the Internet of Things takes shape, RFID companies need to offer complete solutions that can quickly and easily adapt to customers' needs and expectations.
By John Shoemaker

Customers also do not care about RF frequencies and technology types. Why should they have to be educated about Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF), ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), Wi-Fi, ZigBee, ultra-wideband (UWB), microwave and other technologies? Then there are real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, the Global Positioning System (GPS), differential GPS (DGPS), indoor positioning systems (IPS) and Near Field Communication (NFC). More often, in the future, we will see multi-frequency and -technology products combined into a single device that automatically adapts to the required frequency for specific applications, and can be active, passive or both.

At present, active UHF RFID tags are gaining traction in the following high-profile applications for which suppliers have provided solutions: construction laydown yards and storage areas (materials management); container tracking at seaports (locationing and reefer monitoring); discrete manufacturing and finished goods (quality and inventory control); power distribution and greenhouse gas reduction (smart meters); apparel and retail (inventory management and procurement); oil, gas, mining and energy (security and personnel safety); transportation and cargo (distribution coordination); and pharmaceuticals (pedigree and authentication).

In each of these applications, the systems integrator—either by itself or, more typically, teamed with technology providers—supplies a solution in which software, hardware and services are integrated as a whole product that addresses a customer's specific need or solves a particular problem.

For solution providers and their partners, the challenge is to manage a development team for the requisite wireless and wired hardware, as well as a so-called "agile" software-development organization that can adapt easily and quickly to customer changes. This is especially important as requirements evolve, since response time is critical as new competitor offerings become available.

No IoT application solution, in the near term, will be satisfactory right out of the box. All companies will expect to have the system customized to their specific needs, organizational requirements and language. The software-development team, working together with necessary wireless infrastructures, will need to be able to react in a matter of hours or days instead of weeks or months. Customers want to see the "solution in action," accessible from the cloud, before making final decisions.

Software acts as the glue that ties the solution together. In an IoT wireless world of data capture, the information must be collected and managed via a rules-based engine that presents it in ways that bring clarity and actionable intelligence to what is happening.

USER COMMENTS

Ben Grieser 2014-09-25 03:44:56 AM
Very good points! RFID opens up a variety of opportunities to improve supply chain performance, but it is vitally important that the technology works 'right out of the box." Apple understands this. As the Internet of Things blossoms and grows to encompass the myriad array of RFID technologies, people will continue to find more innovative ways to apply those technologies, but only if the tools work. Users need to be free to focus on the solutions, without having to worry about making the tool work. Companies which can provide that will not only benefit greatly, but will also empower their customers to be of much greater benefit to their own organizations and their own customers.
Larry Phillips 2014-09-30 05:43:34 PM
I posed a similar question in regards to improving workflow in a logistics centre - the problem was how to ensure the entity starting a movement would also adopt RFID - it is simple when you are a large department store or a company with clout - but when you are a small entity how do you ensure a RFID tag using your prescribed format is used - if this was possible yes it would simplify everything and even make customs and quarantine processing of goods a lot easier - how do we work towards this

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