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AWID Moves Into New Markets

Tag and reader engineering company Applied Wireless Identification Group will supply UHF readers to Taiwan’s hog industry.
By Mark Carroll
Dec 09, 2003RFID component supplier Applied Wireless Identification Group (AWID) announced that Advanced ID has ordered 32,000 AWID readers. Advanced ID, a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta, will utilize these readers in a project that will, upon completion, track the entire hog industry in Taiwan from farm to slaughterhouse.
Donny Lee

“AID is representative of niche market applications that AWID is working on,” says Donny Lee, CEO for AWID, a Monsey, N.Y., company that has specialized in access control products. “We have been working with AID for over one year to assist them in developing an RFID reader to meet the specific needs of the livestock industry.”

AWID says that this project, among others, have helped its sales to grow by 60 to 70 percent this year compared with revenue for 2002.

“Currently we average about 6,000 to 7,000 units per month,” says Lee. “Before year end, we will announce another customer contract that requires several thousands of readers for in-house use. In Q1 and Q2 2004, we also have several new contracts that are in the 1,500-unit range each. We know that SCM [supply chain manufacturing] is going to be big, but we are not certain of its timing. We need to be able to increase production quickly in order to meet such growth.”

To enable it to respond quickly to rapidly rising demand, AWID depends on EMMT Systems of Taiwan. Since its founding in 1997, AWID has used EMMT as its manufacturer.

“We are a design house; we have no manufacturing capability,” says Lee, who explains that EMMT’s ability to quickly expand production was the main reason it was chosen as AWID’s contract manufacturer. “This is a major factor in our business strategy,” says Lee. “We can easily ramp up to 25,000 to 50,000 readers per month.”

“We have a factory area of around 49,000 square feet and there is an enough room for further expansion,” says K.F. Wei, quality control manager for EMMT. “We can expand to as much as 10 times the capacity as we currently have. It’s just a matter of when the market begins to boom.”

Quality is, of course, a critical requirement for AWID, and so far, EMMT has been able to deliver. “Our very first pilot production of 250 UHF readers had a first-time yield of 86.8 percent,” says Lee. “That is, 217 units worked the first time they were turned on. We’ve made additional component selection adjustments and that yield is now close to 91 percent.”

EMMT is able to achieve such high quality because it specializes in the manufacture of microwave RF equipment. “EMMT’s employees possess more than 10 years’ experience in the production of military- or avionics-grade products,” says Wei. “EMMT produces communication systems, power supplies, radar control systems and treadmill controllers. The manufacturing processes are very similar to those needed for RFID equipment manufacture.”

In addition to its ability to swiftly scale up production, EMMT’s manufacturing costs are low—something that helps gives AWID a competitive edge.

“One big advantage for AWID is that EMMT can source quality passives in Taiwan, which helps with AWID’s costs,” says Lee. “Since EMMT is an investor in AWID, we get preferred scheduling and they will store inventory for us. It is also one of the few Taiwanese manufacturers that can handle our design shrinks.”

The Taiwan company produces a range of readers for AWID, including the MPR-1510 and MPR-2010 readers that AWID will supply to AID over the next three years to track livestock. Operating at a frequency of 915 MHz, MPR-1510 and MPR-2010 can read tags from 3 to 7 meters away, depending on which tag is used. The tags go on the hogs’ ears. “AID had been using readers operating at 125 KHz or 13.5 MHz in Canada but was having trouble with electrical interference from machinery in the slaughterhouses,” says Lee.

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