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RFID News Roundup

GS1, UPU sign up for new era of cooperation; Xiangyun Tobacco Co. puts RFID to work on quality; ThingMagic Mercury6e RFID reader module hits the market; iGPS announces customer wins of Kettle, Ken's Foods; Cubic acquires XIO Strategies.
Jan 06, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

GS1, UPU Sign Up for New Era of Cooperation
International standards-setting organization GS1, dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve efficiency and visibility in supply chains, has announced that is has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations agency that serves as the primary forum for cooperation between postal organizations around the world. Under the terms of the agreement, GS1 and UPU will cooperate to develop their standardization activities and define a joint program of norms for the postal sector. One main objective of this agreement is to help postal services make efficient use of RFID-enabled Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology. GS1 reports that it has already offered advice and support for UPU's new Global Monitoring System, based on GS1's Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard. "GS1 will work with the UPU and operators to provide postal customers with reliable data on mail items and other e-commerce services via their mobile phone or in other ways. The GS1 standards will guarantee the compatibility, upgradeability and viability of the applications offered by postal services," said Miguel Lopera, GS1's president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "This agreement paves the way for efficient data transmission throughout the supply chain, particularly for e-commerce, an area in which postal services are ever more active," added Edouard Dayan, UPU's director general. The Universal Postal Union has already been overseeing RFID pilots; in 2008, it worked with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on a three-month pilot to test the suitability of employing RFID as a tool for measuring the performance of mail-delivery services. The pilot, led by Qatar's General Postal Corp. (Q-Post), and also including Saudi Post and Emirates Post, leveraged both passive EPC Gen 2 tags and active tags placed on approximately 3,120 test letters that circulated among the three nations (see U.N.'s Universal Postal Union Gears Up for Large RFID Pilot).

Xiangyun Tobacco Co. Puts RFID to Work on Quality
The Xiangyun Tobacco Co., which operates 10 tobacco plants located in China's Yunnan Province, is employing an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solution provided by RFID company Shenzen RPD Technology Co., to help safeguard the quality of its products. The RFID solution leverages UPM Raflatac's ShortDipole UHF RFID tags, made with NXP Semiconductors' G2XL RFID chips. According to UPM Raflatac, the system enables the tobacco company to automate the classification, storage and sorting processes of its raw materials, which helps to ensure that customers receive exactly the grade of tobacco they desire, while also achieving considerable cost savings. Tobacco grade is the key element of a premium-quality cigarette, the company notes, and tobacco leaves are transferred several times before the end-product is ready. Xiangyun Tobacco considered it essential to make sure the process is not disturbed, UPM Raflatac reports, or the leaves tampered with in any way. With the RFID solution, staff members first classify the leaves and then place them on metal frames as they are purchased from farmers. A label with an embedded RFID tag carrying information—for example, data about the leaves' origin, grade and variety—is attached to each frame. All frames are then sent to a warehouse, where an RFID reader at the building's entrance identifies the labels' data. In the next stage, a reader installed on the assembly line checks that the grade provided matches the production order. This helps to ensure that only the correct grades are used to produce cigarettes, UPM Raflatac explains, and automatically rules out the possibility of quality defects caused by mixing unspecified grades.

ThingMagic Mercury6e RFID Reader Module Hits the Market
Trimble has announced the availability of its ThingMagic Mercury6e (M6e) module. Introduced in April 2010 (see RFID New Roundup: ThingMagic Intros New Compact RFID UHF Reader Module), the M6e is an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID embedded reader module. According to Trimble, the device is a small, 1-watt, four-port module that provides RFID tag read rates of up to 400 tags per second, and read ranges of more than 30 feet, with a 6-dBi antenna. Made with Impinj's Indy R2000 chip, the reader module is aimed at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), value-added resellers (VARs) and solution providers that want to add RFID to existing product lines, or to design and build new solutions from the ground up. It measures 2.7 inches by 1.7 inches by 0.3 inch. The M6e also features multi-protocol support—EPC Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C) with support for dense reader mode (transmit and receive), ISO 18000-6B, and I-PX—and complies with U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) regulations in a single module configuration at 36 dBm EIRP and 33 dBm ERP, respectively. The module also features built-in thermal management, eliminating the need for a separate heat spreader. Customers are already adding the module to their product portfolios, the company reports. Silion Technology Co., a Chinese VAR specializing in radio frequency identification, says the addition of the M6e to its product line will help it meet the growing regional demand for RFID. "The M6e is a powerful addition to ThingMagic's embedded RFID reader family," said Sun Hai, Silion Technology's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement, "and, as with all of ThingMagic's products, offers a robust development platform and the tools necessary for value-added resellers like Silion Tech to serve our customers and advance our market position."

iGPS Announces Customer Wins of Kettle Brand Chips, Ken's Foods
Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), a provider of all-plastic pallets with embedded RFID tags, has announced that Kettle Foods, a manufacturer of premium potato chips, and Ken's Foods, a producer of salad dressing, prepared sauces and mayonnaise, have begun shipping its products throughout the United States on iGPS' RFID-enabled pallets. The pallets are lightweight and 100 percent recyclable, and contain EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags embedded in their frames, which enables tracking and tracing throughout the supply chain. Switching from wood pallets to lighter-weight iGPS plastic pallets yields operational savings, according to iGPS, which cites studies performed by its customers that have shown savings of up to $2 per pallet load, due to lower transport costs, decreased production downtime, larger loads per pallet, reduced product damage and fewer rejected loads. Additionally, the pallets can be easily cleaned, do not absorb fluids that can cross-contaminate food and never require treatment with toxic pesticides or fungicides. In October 2010, iGPS unveiled a pallet-rental service specifically designed to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical and life-sciences industries, and its plastic RFID-enabled pallets have received Food Equipment Certification from NSF International, a testing and certification authority with respect to food-related equipment (see RFID News Roundup: iGPS Intros RFID Pallet Rental Service for Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences).

Cubic Acquires XIO Strategies
Cubic Corp. has announced that it has acquired XIO Strategies. The terms of the deal have not been released. XIO Strategies specializes in RFID-enabled supply chain management and communications consulting services to the government and military, in particular. The acquisition is aimed at enhancing Cubic's market position for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and commercial logistics management, consulting and RFID technology domains. The acquisition will create a new entity combining Cubic's Global Tracking Solutions (Cubic GTS) division and XIO Strategies. Cubic GTS was created in May 2010 when the company purchased Impeva, with the aim of accelerating Cubic's entry into the defense, homeland security and maritime logistics markets (see RFID News Roundup: Cubic Acquires Assets of Impeva Labs). Mary Ann Wagner, XIO Strategies' founder, will become the president of Cubic Global Tracking Solutions, and will lead the combined entity from the company's new headquarters in Vienna, Va., where XIO Strategies has been based. According to Cubic, relocating the Cubic GTS headquarters to the Washington, D.C., metro area will enhance the firm's ability to service its DOD and commercial customers. Cubic GTS designs, develops and provides systems for the continuous tracking and monitoring of assets, no matter where in the world they are located. Cubic's global tracking technology is being deployed by the DOD in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the company reports, and relies on a combination of satellite technology, GSM mobile communications and an encrypted RFID mesh network, to provide around-the-clock coverage worldwide. Additionally, Cubic GTS supplies smart devices for dry containers, refrigerated containers and trucks, and rail applications used in conjunction with the Cubic GTS Device Management Center, to provide continuous, reliable, real-time monitoring and event notification—without requiring fixed infrastructure or proprietary technology.
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