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Murata Developing Small On-Metal Tag for Surgical or Industrial Tool Tracking

The company is leveraging its RSA middleware, gained from its acquisition of ID-Solutions, while also offering its ultra-small and on-metal tags for the management of previously hard-to-track items.
By Claire Swedberg

In all cases, the UHF versions are designed to be small enough to be affixed to a metallic object, or embedded in an object, such as in the frame of a pair of glasses. HF or NFC version tags are also being used for item identification.

Several jewelry brands plan to test Murata's tags for supply chain management. The companies intend to use the RSA middleware to capture data and manage the readers. The jewelry makers are interested in using the technology for internal supply chain management, Hubers explains, on specific items built into many of its products.

Nobuto Yamada
For such deployments, a tag even smaller than the new on-metal tag was required. Instead, the brands will attach Murata's ultra-small tag with an internal integrated antenna to each piece of jewelry. It can then be interrogated via a fixed reader, along with a small loop antenna to enable a read range between 10 to 15 millimeters.

The system works with handheld readers linked to an Android device via a Bluetooth connection. When it comes to handheld readers, Hubers says, " When reading our ultra-small tag [LXMSJZNCMF-198], we often recommend Tertium Technology's BlueBerry reader due to the optimized near-field antenna used in this product." Those reading tags with handheld readers can then view data about each item in the RSA app on their Android-based mobile devices. The specific reader to be used in the jewelry-tracking deployment, however, has not yet been selected.

ID-Solutions developed the RSA middleware nearly a decade ago, Hubers says, but it has been offered in full solutions with Murata hardware for only the past several months. RSA solutions, Yamada reports, are currently in operation at many company sites across Europe, and more recently in Japan.

One pilot of the system is in the planning stage at a Japanese food-manufacturing facility, Yamada says. The solution will be tested to track the location of mobile machinery used during the processing of food. The company will tag those machines and utilize handheld readers to track their location and use them as they are moved and operated throughout the facility. With that data, the company can better ensure that the machinery can be located when needed, and that it is being maintained and cleaned in a timely manner.

If the pilot goes well, Yamada says, the company (which has asked to remain unnamed) will expand the system's use to tracking tens of thousands of pieces of equipment across 20 sites. The RSA solution can be integrated into a company's IT system for industrial, retail and health-care purposes, among others.

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