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New RFID Technology Helps Kraft, P&G, Kimberly-Clark Go the Distance
The three CPG manufacturers have been piloting Mojix's RFID system, which employs a single interrogator to read tags from up to 600 feet away.
Apr 21, 2008—One of the most-discussed technology introductions made at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2008 conference in Las Vegas was the STAR system debuted by Los Angeles-based startup Mojix. During a panel discussion on Friday, representatives from three major consumer packaged goods manufacturers offered feedback based on their tests and, in one case, deployment of the STAR system. Mojix leverages phased array antenna technology to enable a single interrogator to read and also locate passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags based on EPCglobal's second-generation air-interface protocol, within an area as large as 250,000 square feet (see Mojix Takes Passive UHF RFID to a New Level).
The Mojix system consists of the STAR receiver linked, via coaxial cable, to transmitters known as eNodes. The eNodes send out RF signals that interrogate and power up the tags, which then send the signal data back to a receiver as far as 600 feet away. A STAR receiver can manage up to 512 eNodes, which can be daisy-chained to cover a large geographical area, as well as mounted in a facility in an orientation enabling the STAR receiver to determine a tag's location in three dimensions.
Kraft Foods' director of customer development for integrated store logistics, told attendees that his company has tested and deployed the Mojix system at a Kraft warehouse in Germany, from which the firm shipped RFID-tagged product headed for German retailer Metro.
The timing was right for that German warehouse, Pollock said, because Metro had recently asked Kraft to ramp up the number of RFID-tagged Kraft products it shipped to its retail stores. This meant Kraft would need to outfit more of its dock doors with interrogators to accommodate that increase. Because a single STAR receiver can read tags at such a great distance, the company has been able to deploy a single interrogator in conjunction with multiple eNodes to cover all of the additional doors needed. "We're very pleased with the results [from STAR]," Pollock said, adding that the possibilities for using the Mojix technology are "limitless" in a large warehouse.
Mark Morrow, Procter & Gamble's EPC technology leader for corporate engineering, and John Onderko, scientist and packaging engineer for RFID at Kimberly-Clark, told attendees about their respective company's testing of the STAR system. Morrow said P&G has been testing the system for more than a year at its RFID test lab, and has succeeded in employing a single interrogator to read tags moving through a total of 49 dock doors, as well as tags outside the lab and others mounted on RF-unfriendly metal racks.
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