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3DTAC Seeks RTLS Partners for Its Antenna Arrays

The Canadian company has developed low-cost RFID reader antennas that could be installed in arrays to create an RTLS with passive or active RFID tags.
By Claire Swedberg

As part of the Shared Services project, the Canadian government provided $500,000 for the testing of 3DTAC's system to track the movement of equipment at a site operated by Environment Canada's Air Quality Control Dept., which provides weather information. Three different applications were tested throughout 2012.

The agency buys meteorological equipment components. It then assembles those parts into equipment that local offices can use to measure air quality and other conditions in the air. RFID tests were performed at the assembly area in Ottawa. In one case, arrays of antennas with a ThingMagic M5E reader were installed on the wall, and captured and interpreted read data in six linear wireless zones on the assembly bench. Alien Technology ALN-9654 (G) inlays and ALN-9640 (Squiggle) tags with Higgs3 inlays were applied to metal boxes in which the components were stored.

In a retail store, a 3DTAC antenna array could be installed over a rack of tagged clothing to monitor inventory in real time.
During the second test, Smartrac DogBone tags with Higgs3 chips were attached to boxes of equipment, and another M5E reader and 3DTAC antennas were installed at a gate to a room in which equipment was stored for use by meteorological stations. In the third test, 3DTAC installed 16 of its antennas and a ThingMagic M6E RFID reader behind ceiling tiles, in order to track boxes fitted with DogBone tags. That third solution included 49 zones, each measuring 2 feet by 4 feet. Invengo XC-TF8030 Great Wall tags were also employed during three Environment Canada tests. According to Rozumovich, the tests found that RFID could reduce the amount of labor time required to track assets' movements by 30 to 40 percent, compared with the time needed to monitor assets without RFID.

As a result of those tests, 3DTAC is now meeting with Canadian government officials regarding the technology's continued use for collecting data about the locations of assets. First, however, the agency must complete a SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software upgrade.

At the tire warehouse, one shelf was dedicated for the system, with an array of antennas installed above it, and tags were applied to tires to identify which were on the shelf, and when they were removed. During the test, 3DTAC found that the RFID-enabled tire inventory-management system worked well within a large warehouse shelf environment—an alternative to the smaller retail shelves for which the technology is also designed.

The antennas would cost about $12 to $15 apiece in mass production, Rozumovich reports. The company, he says, is currently speaking with several North American RFID solution providers about the possibility of using 3DTAC's reader antennas and RFID Tac modules to offer full solutions, including software, readers and tags.

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