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EMS Debuts Passive UHF Tag, Reader

Escort Memory Systems designed its first ultra-high frequency RFID system specifically for harsh, high-temp industrial environments.
By Mary Catherine O’Connor
Aug 18, 2004Escort Memory Systems (EMS), a company known for providing high-frequency RFID systems used in industrial applications, this week introduced its first ultra-high-frequency (UHF) tag and interrogator. The company says it developed the UHF reader and passive tag, which are designed for high-heat, high-shock environments, to provide an increased read range over its HF and other RFID systems.

The UHF-UN1 interrogator can read and encode tags compliant with EPC standards, making it compatible for use as part of an open-loop supply chain. Still, EMS marketing manager Bradley Todd says the new tag and reader were designed specifically for industrial uses, such as identifying parts moving through a paint and assembly process in the automotive factory, which tend to be closed-loop applications.

EMS' new UHF525HT tag
According to Todd, the UHF525HT tag has broad applicability in high-temperature work-in-process manufacturing, asset-tracking, material-handling and container- or fleet-tracking applications in industries ranging from food and pharmaceuticals to semiconductor manufacturing. The tag can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and can function at temperatures as high as 200 degrees. Todd notes that the tags must be able to withstand temperatures much higher than those in which they are generally read. For example, a UHF525HT might be attached to a part placed in a paint oven with extremely high temperatures, but it would be not be interrogated until the part was taken out of that oven.

When the UHF525HT is attached to an object with brackets—which come with the tag and set it 1 inch from an object's surface—it can be read from as far away as 4 feet with the UHF-UN1 interrogator. As with any passive RFID tag, however, the presence of metal can affect that range. Other EMS tags have read ranges from a few millimeters to several feet, depending on the frequency at which they operate.

The UHF525HT is compliant with the ISO 18000-6B standard, holds 256 bytes of data and weighs 3 ounces. It measures roughly 5 inches wide, 2 inches tall and a half-inch thick. Todd claims this is the first high-temperature tag on the market that complies with ISO 18000-6B.

The UHF-UN1 interrogator, from EMS
The UHF-UN1 interrogator can read and encode UHF525HT passive tags, as well as those compliant with EPC Class 0, Class 0 + and Class 1 standards and other proprietary Escort Memory System tags functioning between 902 and 928 MHz. Moreover, it is software-upgradeable to communicate with EPC Gen 2 tags. The interrogator has a built-in antenna and uses TCP/IP to connect to a network through an Ethernet cable, which also powers the device.

This Ethernet cable is the only wiring leading to or from the interrogator, making it well suited for industrial applications. "This is really nice if you're a factory integrator installing this reader," says Todd, "because every time you introduce new wiring into an industrial environment, you also introduce added cost. Plus, there are [fewer] components that can fail." The UHF525HT tag and UHF-UN1 interrogator are both available now; pricing information has not been released.
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