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RFID News Roundup

Korean steel maker tracks operations with RFID, saving $1.4 million monthly; Xerafy announces new series of passive UHF RFID on-metal tags; Smart Track Logistics launches Integrated Asset Tracker; Identec Group says growth strategy a success; Ruro intros RFID program for life-sciences industry; Taiwan External Trade Development readies 37th Taipei International Electronics Show.
Jul 28, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Korean Steel Maker Tracks Operations With RFID, Saving $1.4 Million Monthly
Korean steel manufacturer Posco has implemented an RFID-enabled logistics system to track and trace 2 million multi-ton metal parts annually. Posco designed the solution and integrated it with its existing manufacturing systems. The solution utilizes custom UPM RFID DogBone EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, to track multi-ton metal coils from the point of manufacture through customer delivery, in order to improve the accuracy and efficiency of key operational processes. The implementation has received funding from the Korean government, UPM reports, as part of the country's drive to become a leader in the field of ubiquitous sensor networks. Because using RFID technology in steel mills poses unique challenges (that is, interference to the RF signal from the metal), the firm is using modified DogBone tags that have two antennas and are applied upright inside heavy metal coil tags as flag tags, perpendicular to the items' curved surfaces. Positioning the tags thus solves the problem of readability, according to UPM. The metal coils are tagged during the packaging process, and the tags are read as cranes move the coils to the warehouse, during storage and again when readied for shipment. Currently, Posco is employing RFID tags to identify coil products manufactured at its Kwangyang and Pohang plants, for a select group of 17 customers. Beginning in October 2011, Posco plans to tag all of the items that it produces, or more than 2 million steel components annually. Posco's RFID system comprises the tags, handheld industrial PDAs, fixed RFID readers (attached to cranes and placed at factory gates), an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, a manufacturing execution system (MES) and a server. The integration with the ERP and MES applications enables Posco to access real-time information regarding its products, and to use that data to plan and fine-tune its own production operations. By implementing the RFID-based logistics system, UPM explains, the firm has automated the inspection, packaging and shipping of its metal coil products. In addition to providing complete traceability of the company's products, the RFID system has decreased packaging and shipping errors, improved customer satisfaction and reduced monthly expenses by $1.4 million, according to Han Ku Park, the VP of Posco's maintenance technology department.

Xerafy Announces New Series of Passive UHF RFID On-Metal Tags
RFD tag manufacturer Xerafy has introduced its Pico Plus series of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, which includes the PicoX II Plus, Pico-iN Plus and Pico-On Plus models. The new tags' read ranges are greater than the company's previous versions, Xerafy reports. The PicoX II Plus and the Pico-On Plus (a case-less model) are UHF RFID-on-metal (ROM) tags sized to fit on blade servers or other small metallic assets. The PicoX II Plus is IP68-rated (signifying it is waterproof and dust-proof), can achieve read ranges of up to 10 feet (3 meters) and can be attached to weapons, tools and medical devices; it measures 0.7 inch by 0.43 inch by 0.19 inch (17.8 millimeters by 10.9 millimeters by 4.8 millimeters) and weighs 0.07 ounce (2 grams). The Pico-On Plus, measuring 0.47 inch by 0.28 inch by 0.12 inch (11.9 millimeters by 7.1 millimeters by 3 millimeters) and weighing 0.05 ounce (1.4 grams), has a read range of up to 10 feet (3 meters). The Pico-iN Plus can be embedded into the head of a bolt to RFID-enable any aviation, automotive or manufacturing product; it measures 0.47 inch by 0.28 inch by 0.12 inch (11.9 millimeters by 7.1 millimeters by 3 millimeters), weighs 0.05 ounce (1.4 grams) and has a read range of up to 6.6 feet (2 meters).

Smart Track Logistics Launches Integrated Asset Tracker
Smart Track Logistics, a provider of enterprise logistics solutions for asset tracking, visibility, control and optimization, has introduced its Integrated Asset Tracker system, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution designed to provide global freight status, asset management and visibility. This new solution provides freight status and asset updates (such as location, estimated arrival time, status and condition), made through any single technology, or a combination of technologies, including GPS, cellular, RFID and mobile devices, that can then be viewed through the Web-based Smart Track Dashboard and Integrated Asset Tracker mapping interface. The SaaS-based solution's reporting capabilities enable a user to analyze asset usage by facility, region or enterprise. Smart Track Logistics has partnered with Identec Solutions for tags and readers, according to Mike Edwards, the company's spokesperson, though he adds that the software is hardware-agnostic. The company has clients in the warehouse and distribution market that leverage RFID with its software, as well as in manufacturing, retail and grocery distribution.

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