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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

The technology could be employed for such functions as tracking large numbers of goods or vehicles throughout a distribution center. In such an environment, goods pass through the facility, often dwelling at a given spot for only a matter of minutes or hours. As such, tracking those items' locations can help a company not only to identify items in real time, but also to collect analytics regarding the efficiency of their processes and receive alerts if something is incorrectly loaded and missed during loading.

Based on the reader's functionality and cost, the company reports it can provide real-time data at a lower cost per square foot than other RTLS solutions. With the real-time data collected from the reader, Turchet says, DCs and other companies can better manage the scheduling of their processes, as well as optimize workers' productivity based on data indicating where they are at any given time.

Once the system is in place, Turchet says, companies can begin tagging anything or anyone that moves through a designated area, including personnel, inventory and assets, down to lunch boxes and safety vests. It can also be utilized for route optimization of forklifts. What's more, the technology could be deployed in a retail environment to monitor inventory, customer interactions and shopping carts, for instance.

With the new RTLS reader, Turchet explains, end-customers can tag goods and achieve a higher return on investment "driven by low-cost, battery-free tags, higher ceiling environments and easy-to-install overhead passive RTLS, previously not possible without a CS Smart Antenna."

Later this year, the company expects to have a number of large projects under way in the logistics sector. By the second quarter of 2019, Confidex expects to release products optimized for shipment verification. RF Controls, meanwhile, has launched two Internet of Things (IoT) labs to develop logistics, manufacturing and retail use cases for the RTLS solution. The labs are located at the University of Quebec's Montreal School of Business and the GreenUX retail living lab.

"Finally, passive RTLS has come to market," says Ygal Bendavid, a UQAM ESG professor and its director of IoT. He says he expects a wide variety of applications for the technology, adding, "Besides logistics and warehousing, I see huge opportunities in manufacturing, connected retail and hospitals." Going forward, he reports, "We are eager to implement CS Smart Antennas in our labs and transfer the knowledge to end-customers for the future of passive RTLS and their ability to enrich artificial-intelligence systems."

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