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RTLS Reader from RF Controls Features Steerable Array Antenna

RF Controls has released a new passive UHF RFID reader that captures real-time location data; the firm is partnering with Confidex to offer reader and tag solutions for warehouses and other industrial deployments.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 17, 2019

Confidex, a maker of RAIN UHF RFID-enabled logistics labels and container tags, and RF Controls have partnered to offer a real-time passive UHF RFID solution that consists of RF Controls' new CS-445B UHF real-time location system (RTLS) reader and Confidex's tags. The system can identify the locations of tagged items within zones, with a granularity of about 18 inches. RF Controls designed its RTLS reader to provide asset- and inventory-tracking solutions with UHF RFID tags tracked in real time.

The reader solution enables users to view where goods are located as they move around a space, and to create zones to trigger or enable specific actions, says Adrian Turchet, RF Controls' senior VP of strategy and corporate development. At a store, for instance, a user could set up a zone around the point of sale to identify goods being purchased. The Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) reader comes with a bidirectional, steerable array CS Smart Antenna to identify tags' locations, and the company finds the system works well with Confidex's Crosswave UHF RFID tag, according to Joe Hoerl, Confidex's sales director for smart industries in North America.

RF Controls' CS-445B UHF reader
"We're tag-agnostic," Turchet says. "We like to test all available tags." The reader works with any UHF RFID tag, he adds, but the company found that the Crosswave tags worked well with the RTLS solution. "The Crosswave labels are designed to be read from a 360-degree orientation," Hoerl says, meaning they can be captured even as they move or change orientation.

The two companies demonstrated the solution at this month's RFID Journal LIVE! conference, held in Phoenix, Ariz., and the CS-445B won the Best New Product award in this year's RFID Journal Awards. The CS-445B has a 45-foot read range, RF Controls reports. It is designed to be suspended from ceiling heights ranging from 10 to 30 feet, the company adds, and it operates best at a height of 22 feet. Therefore, the system works well at large box retail locations, as well as at distribution centers and assembly sites.

The system can cover an area of up to 900 square feet of space when installed horizontally at a height of about 15 feet, and can be angled to read tags further away by extending its scan area. It has the ability to triangulate using one or more antennas to provide tag reads in three dimensions. For instance, if a company has racks of goods stacked vertically, the solution can identify the height at which each item is stacked. The software also enables businesses to set up zones in which to track movement and trigger actions accordingly. For instance, they could view when workers enter unauthorized areas, or when inventory is moved into a staging area.

The CS-445B operates with a single antenna that uses algorithms designed by RF Controls engineers, according to Alex Gaddie, the company's chief software engineer. The reader emits a single beam of energy, as opposed to similar overhead UHF RFID readers that employ numerous antennas in a single device (or connected to that device). The antenna can accomplish circular, horizontal and vertical polarization, he explains. Additionally, Gaddie notes, the system is designed to be easy for users or integrators to configure, and comes with a drag-and-drop user interface to speed up the deployment process.

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