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Elecsys Buys Swiss Maker of Specialty RFID Tags

The U.S. company has thrown its hat into the RFID market with the acquisition of MBBS, a Swiss manufacturer of passive low-frequency tags that can be embedded in metal for use in harsh environments.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 16, 2009Elecsys Corp., a publicly traded holding company with three main subsidiaries that provide electronic manufacturing, rugged mobile computing and remote monitoring solutions, has acquired MBBS, a Swiss manufacturer of specialized RFID interrogators and tags that can be hermetically sealed or encased in metal so they can withstand high temperatures, sterilization and other extreme conditions.

Karl Gemperli, CEO of Elecsys—which is headquartered in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City—characterizes the purchase as "a really good opportunity for us," stating, "I know people are all doom and gloom with the downturn of economy, but it will come back up. We look for growing and developing markets; the last thing we are going to do is buy into a maturing market. I believe RFID is on the upswing, and this acquisition seemed like a perfect opportunity."

Karl Gemperli, CEO of Elecsys
Elecsys expects the acquisition will strengthen all of the other companies it owns: DCI, which provides integrated electronic design and manufacturing solutions; Radix, which produces rugged mobile computing devices used for a variety of applications, including asset tracking and field maintenance; and NTG, which designs and markets remote monitoring solutions for the gas and oil pipeline industry, as well as for other sectors that require remote monitoring.

"All of our subsidiaries, which really are brands, provide solutions that focus on industrial and rugged, harsh environments," Gemperli explains. "This technology really fits."

The all-stock deal offers Elecsys a portfolio of specialized low-frequency (LF) RFID tags encased in stainless steel. The tags in the current product portfolio operate at 125 kHz and employ a proprietary air-interface protocol. However, per a customer's request, the company can provide tags that operate at other frequencies below 150 kHz (the lower the frequency, the greater the penetration depth of the magnetic field generated by a reader's signal). MBBS designed and marketed the tags primarily for medical and industrial applications, such as tracking surgical instruments.

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