May 18, 2006Applied Wireless Identifications (AWID), an RFID interrogator manufacturer based in Morgan Hills, Calif., has resumed shipments of its interrogator modules and non-domestic shipment of its stand-alone readers. The move comes less than a month after the company ceased sales of all products upon discovering it was noncompliant with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules (see AWID Halts Sales of RFID Readers).
In late March, AWID began an investigation of all its products after it learned it was not fully compliant with the FCC's Part 15 rules for RFID interrogators and other "intentional radiators." By early April, the company had stopped all product shipments and fired its chairman and CEO, Donny Lee.
Shipments of the modules, which are installed in RFID printers and other devices, resumed the week of May 8 after the company completed an internal investigation to ensure all its modules were within FCC compliance, says Louis Sirico, AWID vice president of marketing. Stand-alone interrogators followed this week, although the firm is shipping the interrogator only to international customers. Even though FCC rules do not apply to modules and interrogators used by international customers, AWID had instituted a moratorium on all shipments. "At first, AWID took the most conservative approach, which was to completely halt the import and shipping of all products to all regions of the world," Sirico says.
Since then, AWID has spent seven days a week examining every product and variation of product (such as using a different part on a product like a cable or power cord) it has manufactured and sold since the company began in 1998. In addition, says Sirico, the firm has contacted its customers to determine whether their AWID equipment was in compliance, doing whatever was necessary to bring them into compliance if they were not.
"AWID will work with each customer individually as to any remedy, if an action is required," Sirico says, adding, "We're not quite done with the investigation." The company is now focusing on confirming the certification status of each of its products prior to shipment to U.S. customers.
"Compliance involves more than bringing a product to the lab to have it tested," Sirico says. That testing, he says, provides the company with certification, but not necessarily compliance. Manufacturers must have the appropriate language clearly displayed on a product in accordance with FCC regulations. In many cases, that means simply attaching the proper language on the product to make it FCC-compliant, such as a statement indicating the product has FCC certification. "The lesson is, there is more to compliance than a certification," Sirico says.
Before RFID device manufacturers market their devices, they must submit those products to the FCC for testing. The agency determines if the products are compliant with its Part 15 rules for intentional radiators. If the FCC grants authorization, the manufacturer must label the device as being compliant before selling it.
Not only new products, but products with variations may need FCC certification, Sirico says. "When you have a lot of variations in your products, you may need recertifications." This involves submitting a manufacturer's declaration of conformity, a form indicating what the product variation is, to the FCC. The agency can then determine whether the altered product, in its new configuration, complies with FCC regulations.
When the noncompliance issue first came to light, Sirico recalls, business partners and competitors contacted him with offers of support. "It's been amazing, the support we've gotten," he says. One company, he adds, offered engineering resources, while others offered assistance with compliance.
Sirico told RFID Journal in April that the company was unaware of any interference, health or safety issues with regard to using any AWID products.