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Fluensee Purchases TrenStar

By acquiring TrenStar, the RFID asset-tracking software provider gains inroads into software-as-a-service, as well as the company's RFID-enabled distribution service for beer kegs and other containers.
By Beth Bacheldor
Aug 05, 2008RFID-based asset-tracking software maker Fluensee has acquired long-time partner and fellow RFID company TrenStar, which specializes in the beverage and brewery industries. The acquisition provides Fluensee with access to TrenStar's software-as-a-service model, customer base, intellectual property and expertise with monitoring and optimizing supply chain processes.

Financial details of the deal—an all-cash transaction—have not been disclosed.

Founded in 2005, in Denver's Tech Center, Fluensee offers asset-tracking and asset-management software that can leverage active and passive RFID, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, Wi-Fi-based systems, GPS and sensor technologies. The asset-tracking software is designed to monitor returnable and reusable assets, such as pallets, totes, trays, roll cages, display units and rental assets; trucks and trailers in yards; equipment such as tools, parts and works-in-process; and IT assets such as servers, laptops, networking equipment and peripherals.

For instance, Fluensee has developed systems that utilize mobile interrogators located within the trucks that move tagged trailers around the yard. The interrogators read the tags both on the trailer that a truck is moving, and on the other trailers the truck passes as it is driven around the yard, then transmit all of the IDs wirelessly to back-end systems. By correlating the read time with a truck's coordinates from an onboard GPS receiver, the Fluensee software can pinpoint the tagged trailers' yard locations. Fluensee also offers professional services for design and systems implementation.

TrenStar, also located in Denver, had developed an RFID system leveraging passive RFID tags affixed to reusable containers. Its initial—and primary—business has been to track beer kegs as they traversed from breweries to customers (such as pubs) and back again. Central to TrenStar's business is that it offers the RFID-enabled tracking system in an outsourced, software-as-a-service model. TrenStar tags the kegs, supplies them to the breweries as required, delivers them to the pubs, picks them up, weighs and washes them and then returns them to the breweries for refilling.

During shipment of the kegs, the tags are read by delivery truck drivers using handheld interrogators, as well as by fixed interrogators at TrenStar's facilities. Customers can visit TrenStar's extranet site to see exactly where a particular keg is located at any given moment (see TrenStar: RFID With Less Risk). In 2003, Kraft Foods extended TrenStar's contract, calling for the company to upgrade from bar-code tracking to an automated RFID system (see Kraft to Track Containers With RFID).

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