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RFID News Roundup

EU-Sponsored GRIFS project publishes RFID standards report; UPM Raflatac opens factory in China; Cogiscan rolls out RFID-enabled storage cart for reel feeders; Omni-ID offers on-demand option.
Dec 04, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

EU-Sponsored GRIFS Project Releases RFID Standards Report
The European Union-funded Global RFID Interoperability Forum for Standards (GRIFS) has unveiled a report on the current status of global RFID-related standards. GRIFS, founded in February 2008 by GS1, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), is designed to coordinate a global dialogue on the topic (see GS1, ETSI, CEN Establish Global RFID Standards Forum). The new GRIFS report provides an inventory of global RFID standards, and identifies all RFID-related standards organizations, the geographical and technical scope of their work, and the opportunities and risks involved in collaboration, including gap/overlap analysis. The report focuses on the use of radio frequency identification in the supply chain, including the tracking and tracing of physical objects. In the report's conclusion, GRIFS highlights the need for increased cooperation between RFID standards development organizations, particularly in the areas of universal identification, security and high-frequency standards. The report also proposes that information regarding standards and their state of development should be kept up-to-date through an online database, thereby providing application developers and the RFID community with an accurate overview of relevant RFID standards. The next phase of the GRIFS project will address issues identified in the report, a copy of which is available for download here.

UPM Raflatac Opens Factory in China
Tag maker UPM Raflatac has opened a new manufacturing facility in Guangzhou, the capital of southern China's Guangdong province. The new plant expands the company's worldwide presence to three continents, by adding to its current manufacturing facilities in Jyväskylä, Finland, and Fletcher, N.C. The Guangzhou facility will have an initial annual production capacity of 100 million RFID tags or inlays, and will include high-frequency (HF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) models. The factory's capacity, however, can be scaled to produce hundreds of millions of tags and inlays annually. According to UPM Raflatac, the new Guangzhou facility will provide the tag maker with greater access to the fast-growing Chinese RFID market.

Cogiscan Rolls Out RFID-enabled Storage Cart for Reel Feeders
Cogiscan, a producer of material-tracking systems for manufacturing, has announced an RFID-enabled storage cart for reel feeders used in the electronics manufacturing industry, in collaboration with partners Juki Automation Systems and Mossman Tebbs. The new RFID Smart Storage Cart for Juki feeders complements the IFS-X2 intelligent feeder system developed in collaboration between Juki Automation Systems and Cogiscan (see Cogiscan Developing RFID Labels to Automate Electronics Manufacturing). That feeder system uses low-frequency RFID operating at 125 kHz. Tags containing unique ID numbers are affixed to the feeders, which hold reels of electronics components that are fed to the pick-and-place machine (which also contains a 125 kHz RFID tag) that places the components onto circuit boards. The tags communicate to an array of RFID antennas using a proprietary-based air-interface protocol to verify that the correct feeders are attached to the right pick-and-place machines at the proper time. The RFID Smart Storage Cart can detect all of the Juki intelligent feeders on storage carts, thereby providing companies with visibility of those feeders when they aren't being used on assembly lines.

Omni-ID Offers On-Demand Option
Tag maker Omni-ID continues to roll out solutions designed to make it easer for companies to deploy its Omni-ID RFID tags, including its Omni-ID Prox tags, which comply with the EPC Gen 2 standard and, at 35 millimeters by 10 millimeters by 4 millimeters (1.4 inches by 0.4 inch by 0.2 inch), are smaller than most metal-mount passive tags. In the first quarter of 2009, according to Omni-ID's president and CEO, Tom Pavela, the company will begin offering Omni-ID On Demand, which will enable the firm's resellers to offer their customers the ability to dynamically print, encode and deploy Prox tags on site and on demand, providing those customers with additional flexibility and control. The solution, which is currently in beta-testing phase and will be available through a select group of systems integrators in the first quarter of 2009, will consist of two separate pieces: a hard plastic casing that holds Omni-ID's specially designed antenna; and a label that includes the EPC Gen 2 chip. The label can be run through a standard printer that can print human-readable text and bar codes on it, and an RFID encoder can be used to program the RFID chip. The label is then manually pieced together with the casing to form a fully functional metal-mount tag with an adhesive backing. Designed for customers that have larger deployments—companies that need to tag thousands of IT assets in a large data center, for instance—the tag-commissioning process can be performed in-house, Pavela says, whenever the customer is ready to tag the asset, rather than purchasing tags with pre-encoded chips and printed with bar coding and human-readable text that then need to be matched and deployed one by one. The Omni-ID On Demand services follows the tag maker's recent introduction of Omni-ID Service Bureau (see Omni-ID Intros Service Bureau Designed to Simplify Deployments), which Pavela says is better suited for companies with smaller deployments. That service presents end users and systems integrators with a range of commissioning options, and provides them with encoded RFID tags coupled with printed bar-coded labels. In addition, Pavela says, service bureau customers must provide the numbering sequence in advance (00001 to 10,000, for example) and track that sequence for any subsequent orders. Omni-ID commissions and encodes the tags at its manufacturing facility, then ships the entire batch of pre-encoded tags to the customer, which then must match the encoded tags to the asset, inputting that information into the company's database and tagging the equipment.
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