Extronics to Market AeroScout Wi-Fi-based RFID Tags, Software to Industrial Sector

By Claire Swedberg

Two months after saying its AeroScout Industrial product line was being phased out, Stanley Healthcare has struck an agreement with Extronics, which plans to provide AeroScout sales and service to customers in the oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical sectors.

Stanley Black and Decker's Stanley Healthcare division has announced that Extronics Ltd., a designer and manufacturer of intrinsically safe and explosion-proof equipment, will sell, service and support the AeroScout product line for its global customers in the oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and other industrial sectors.

The agreement comes eight weeks after Stanley Black and Decker reported that it was discontinuing its AeroScout Industrial line of real-time location system (RTLS) products for the manufacturing, transportation and logistics markets, effective Nov. 1 (see Stanley Black and Decker to Shutter Its AeroScout Industrial Division). In addition, Stanley Healthcare says it has teamed with Cisco.

Phil Walker, Extronics Advance's president

Effective today, Extronics and Cisco will offer AeroScout RTLS technology, consisting of AeroScout RTLS tags, exciters and MobileView software, to the industrial sector, as well as provide customer service and support for those products. Extronics makes explosion-proof wireless technology for the mining, oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and other industrial markets, and has acted as a partner to AeroScout Industrial throughout the past several years.

Extronics indicates it will market the existing AeroScout RTLS hardware and MobileView software platform. The company also plans to carry out research and development work at its headquarters in Cheshire County, in the United Kingdom, with the goal of updating existing AeroScout hardware and software and creating additional product lines for RTLS customers. According to the AeroScout website, Cisco is "offering the AeroScout product line to all industries, as part of its portfolio of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions." (Cisco has not responded to requests for comment.)

Stanley Healthcare will continue to sell AeroScout RTLS hardware and software to the health-care sector. Shortly after the company opted to discontinue the AeroScout Industrial division, it began negotiating with Extronics, according to Phil Walker, Stanley AeroScout's former director of business development. Walker is now president of Extronics' new division Extronics Advance, which is dedicated to selling existing AeroScout Industrial products, as well as offering other RTLS-based solutions.

A Stanley Healthcare spokesperson tells RFID Journal that the company is announcing partnerships only with Cisco and Extronics. "Both sides came together quickly on this, based on clear market demand for the AeroScout solution for industrial applications," the spokesperson says. "AeroScout Industrial customers will continue to have access to the AeroScout solution via two experienced partners who understand the industrial use case and can provide appropriate supports."

Traditionally, Extronics' explosion-proof, intrinsically safe devices and enclosures have been sold in conjunction with the AeroScout Industrial technology. Those solutions include products that combine AeroScout tags with Extronics' explosion-proof enclosures, such as Extronics' iTAG100—an intrinsically safe version of the AeroScout T2 tag. Both Extronics and AeroScout sold the products to their own customers.

With the new agreement, Extronics will continue to sell the AeroScout Industrial products with its own explosion-proof enclosures, as well as without those enclosures for deployments that do not require intrinsically safe equipment. Although the company initially expects its customers to be in the mining, oil and gas, and petrochemical sectors, in which explosion proofing would be necessary, Extronics intends to also reach out to customers in the industrial market that might not require intrinsically safe RTLS technology. As part of that effort, the firm has launched the Extronics Advance division, which Walker says he is leading from an office in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Extronics' iTAG100 is an intrinsically safe version of the AeroScout T2 tag.

"We are industrial specialists," Walker says of Extronics and its new division. "We can provide a lot of customer support."

In August, Walker explains, when Stanley Black and Decker announced it would be closing its AeroScout Industrial division, many of its partners and customers expressed frustration regarding the prospect that the products they had installed, or were in the process of installing, might become obsolete. Now, thanks to offerings from both Extronics and Cisco, customers can continue to use and expand their AeroScout deployments, and not worry that they wouldn't be able to acquire additional RTLS tags or other compatible hardware.

One of the new products that Extronics is considering developing is an app for managing data about the RTLS solution and the locations of tagged items.

"This is a really good business opportunity [for Extronics], taking customers that need to be serviced well and providing them with that service," Walker says. "Extronics has a reputation for that."