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European Companies Prepare to Roll Out RFID-Enabled Wheels

A solution developed by pureSpekt and noFilis will enable users of trolleys and other rolling carts to track items' locations via passive EPC UHF tags and readers.
By Claire Swedberg
PureSpekt designs and resells systems such as tamperproof RFID tags for vehicle windshields, high-temperature tags and passive UHF ear tags for livestock, but began working with noFilis approximately 18 months ago to provide RFID technology in wheels, with trolleys in mind. According to Purser, many companies make major investments in their trolleys, which can be expensive and difficult to track if moved around a very large facility, or if they leave that site and later return. For users of the carts, he adds, there is typically a lack of visibility.

The initial challenge for pureSpekt, Purser says, was to design the inlays to fit the wheel. The resulting tags are shaped to accomplish this goal, and can sustain the high temperatures to which the tags may be exposed—for example, during a cleaning process. Although all four of a trolley's wheels were tagged for the trial, Purser says, just one or two tagged wheels would be required on most trolleys, such as postal, shipping or shopping carts.


noFilis' CEO, Franz Angerer
During the trial, NoFilis' CrossTalk software was utilized to record and interpret RFID data, which would then be managed on the user's own software-management system. One of the software modules captures the read data, filters that information and interprets the tag's unique ID number, while another stores that data, indicating when the tag was read, in which direction it was moved and to what location, based on the reader's ID. According to Purser, CrossTalk's patented "false-positive-read" filtering functionality, known as Sense-Gate Solution, provides reliability within bulk-reading environments.

The tags were read from a distance of 10 feet to 16 feet (3 meters to 5 meters), Purser reports. "We were flabbergasted," he says, because the read range was so long in an environment containing a great deal of metal. Situating the tags close to the floor, he notes, extended read range.

Customers of the technology, the company predicts, will include trolley manufacturers themselves, which may need to manage their own fleet, as well as buyers of trolleys in the health-care, logistics, manufacturing and retail markets. The RFID-enabled wheels will cost more than those not RFID-enabled. Purser estimates, however, that the RFID versions will cost less than other hard tags currently in use for tracking rolling carts.

Users can arrange for noFilis to provide the necessary software and integration services, or can employ their own provider, along with any UHF RFID readers.

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