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RFID News Roundup

ESCI Supply Chain Carbon Council promotes RFID; Omni-ID, Mitsubishi Electric, IBM Japan partner on RFID asset management; Nestlé Waters North America using RFID to manage vehicles; Feig, smart-TEC codevelop RFID solution for laser scalpels; XMark announces new version of RFID-based infant-protection system.
Jun 25, 2009The following are news announcements made during the last week.

ESCI Supply Chain Carbon Council Promotes RFID
The European Supply Chain Institute (ESCI) has launched the Supply Chain Carbon Council, which is focused on how radio frequency identification and Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies, as well as supporting data-management technologies, can be used to help companies track and manage carbon emissions throughout their supply chains. The council has instituted the EPC Network for Dynamic Carbon Footprinting Program, designed to educate and build awareness regarding applications of EPC, RFID and other technologies, according to John Connors, ESCI's CEO. To help it achieve its mission, the council is collaborating with GS1, a global organization dedicated to the design and implementation of standards and solutions aimed at improving supply and demand chains, and EPCglobal, a GS1 subsidiary focused on the design and implementation of RFID and EPC standards and solutions. The collaboration will provide the Carbon Council with the expertise and experience GS1 and EPCglobal have gained regarding the use of RFID to track products and gather information. "If a company is producing goods, or transporting goods, the company is producing carbon, and companies need to explore every possible route to identify where carbon emissions are," Connors says, citing carbon emissions regulations that already exist in Europe and are currently taking shape in the United States. "Companies need to develop ways to measure their carbon footprint from their enterprise operation." To do so, he says, businesses also need to be able to gather emissions information from their suppliers and distributors, as well as customers who have purchased and used the product. "It isn't just about the company making the product.... It's the whole equation," Connors says. "[Information and communication technologies] give you visibility, and need to be automated. RFID is one of the technologies to help companies automatically track carbon emissions."

Nestlé Waters North America Manages Fleet With Active RFID
Bottled-water company Nestlé Waters North America is implementing an RFID-enabled system from I.D. Systems—PowerFleet VMS, which leverages active RFID tags known as Vehicle Asset Communicators (VACs)—to help the it manage its fleet of industrial trucks. Each VAC has a GPS unit attached to it, in order to track a vehicle's location. That location is then communicated via a 900 MHz signal to I.D. Systems' interrogators and antennas, which can be affixed to buildings (a reader is typically installed indoors, with the 6-inch-wide, external antenna mounted outside, on a facility's exterior). The VACs offer a read range of between a half-mile and a mile, I.D. Systems reports. The implementation also includes PowerFleet Vision, a software suite that provides visibility and control of industrial vehicles, including real-time vehicle location tracking, a range of management tools and on-demand or automated data reporting. The system is initially being deployed at two of Nestlé Waters' sites, with expansion planned to more than 100 sites globally, based on expected system benefits. The order was placed by I.D. Systems' strategic marketing partner, NACCO Materials Handling Group, a manufacturer of industrial trucks, including Yale brand lift trucks, and facilitated by Yale Chase, the Yale dealer in Southern California. "Nestlé has a culture of innovation and initiative, and Nestlé Waters continuously seeks new ways to improve our supply chain operations," said Chris Lyon of Nestlé Waters North America's National Fleet Services group in a prepared statement. "Wireless vehicle management for industrial trucks is a technology that we intend to further explore in our enterprise to maximize the safety, efficiency and productivity of our material handling activities."

Omni-ID, Mitsubishi Electric, IBM Japan Partner On RFID Asset Management
Tag maker Omni-ID has joined forces with Mitsubishi Electric, which provides ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID services and solutions, and IBM Japan, which provides asset-management services and solutions, to deliver RFID asset-management and IT data-center solutions in Japan. Under the terms of the agreement, Mitsubishi Electric and IBM Japan will offer solutions that incorporate Omni-ID's Prox metal-mount RFID tag that complies with the EPC Gen 2 standard. The two companies will comarket a packaged solution. The Prox tag, which measures 35 millimeters by 10 millimeters by 4 millimeters (1.4 inches by 0.4 inch by 0.2 inch), has a small hole in it through which a cable tie can be inserted to attach the tag to an asset. Mitsubishi Electric's RFID asset-management packaged product, e! Tracking Lite, will be adopted as the common entry-level solution for both IBM Japan and Mitsubishi Electric, and IBM's asset-management solutions, including DCRM and Maximo, will be adopted as the enterprise-level solution. Both solutions will rely on the Prox tag. Prior to this collaboration, IBM performed successful testing of a co-branded Omni-ID Data Center Resource Management (DCRM) solution across the United States and United Kingdom. IBM Japan will leverage that knowledge to team with Omni-ID and Mitsubishi in co-marketing and extending the DCRM solution to enterprises throughout Japan.

Feig, smart-TEC Codevelop RFID Solution for Laser Scalpels
German RFID hardware manufacturer Feig Electronic has teamed with tag maker smart-TEC on a new RFID-enabled medical device solution for laser scalpels. The solution includes RFID reader modules and an external antenna from Feig Electronics' OBID Classis-pro interrogator family. It also includes smart-Tec's smart-DOME Freestyle RFID tag, a small high-frequency (HF) transponder that can be integrated into the laser's connector. Encased in a protective plastic material, the smart-DOME Freestyle tag can withstand sterilization via ethylenoxide or pressurized steam. The transponder can be encoded with data pertaining to usage and sterilization, in order to increase both patient security and error prevention. As such, the system could be designed so that if a surgeon were to attempt to use a laser that had not been sterilized since its previous use, the unit would fail to function.

XMark Announces New Version of RFID-based Infant Protection System
Xmark, a Stanley Healthcare company that sells RFID-based products and services designed to help track infants in hospitals, as well as other patients and physical assets, has announced a new version of its Hugs infant-protection system. The Hugs system, designed to help prevent the unauthorized removal of babies from a hospital, includes such features as skin-sensing capabilities that can trigger an alert if a tag is removed from a wearer. The system can also trigger an alarm, for instance, if a person attempts to exit via a monitored door without authorization, if a tag's strap has been cut or tampered with, if the system fails to detect a tag's signal for a specified span of time, or if a tag's battery power runs low. The new Hugs 6 software includes a large electronic whiteboard application that doctors, nurses and other caregivers can easily view to check on every infant, and his or her status, in the system. Using large task icons, users can navigate the software to initiate tasks, such as assigning new tags to babies. The whiteboard also automatically displays alarms when they occur, and provides all details necessary to respond, including the location, shown on a floor plan of the user's facility. Hugs 6 also includes the ability to run standard reports, as well as create custom reports. The revamped, upgraded Hugs infant-protection system comes nearly a year after Stanley Works, a worldwide supplier of tools, engineered solutions and access and security systems, acquired Xmark from VeriChip Corp. (see Stanley Bolsters RFID Portfolio With VeriChip's Ex-Subsidiary).
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