DOD Awards Reader Purchase Agreements

Five manufacturers of fixed RFID readers have had their equipment cleared for potential purchase and deployment by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Published: May 13, 2005

In a recent round of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), five manufacturers of fixed RFID reader have had their equipment cleared for potential purchase and deployment by the U.S. Department of Defense. The BPAs were issued to ensure that all branches of the DOD acquire interoperable components for deployment in a planned common, integrated system for identifying, tracking, locating and monitoring commodities and assets.

Awarded by the Office of the Joint-Automatic Identification Technology, which is responsible for procuring, customizing and installing automatic-identification technology (which includes RFID) for the DOD, the U.S. Coast Guard and federal agencies, the BPAs are the second of five groups set to be announced this year.

In March, BPAs for tag purchasing were announced (see DOD Awards Contracts for EPC Tags). Three more groups of RFID contracts expected this year. Remaining groups will cover RFID printers, RFID integration services and portable and handheld RFID readers.

All the fixed readers specified in the latest BPAs meet specifications laid out by the Army Contracting Agency (ACA) Information Technology, E-Commerce, and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4), which required readers supporting current EPC Generation 1 protocols (Class 1 and Class 0) and also be upgradeable to support EPC Generation 2.

The BPAs have approved readers, antennas and supporting equipment and software from ADT Security Services, Symbol Technologies, AWID, Alien Technology, and SAMSys, but only ADT has been authorized to sell its own equipment directly to the DOD.

ADT Security Services unit may supply its own EPC Class 0 and 1 Agile Series II SensorID readers. Both RFID systems provider Intermec Technologies and IT integrator Intecs are authorized to supply AWID’s MPR-2010BR reader and related equipment. Intermec says it bid to resell AWID readers to the DOD, as it doesn’t have its own EPC Gen 1 multiprotocol reader. Intermec adds, however, that it is concentrating its development efforts on delivering its own Gen 2 reader further out. The DOD is expected to move to Gen 2 readers when they become available, although the process for selecting them has not been finalized.

Under the BPAs, three companies—automated data collection specialist SYS-TEC, systems integrator WFI, and logistics and services firm Cheval Rouge—are authorized to supply Symbol’s AR400 readers and related equipment.

Systems provider CDO Technologies may also supply Symbol’s AR4022 readers and related equipment, Alien’s ALR9774 readers and SAMSys’ MP9320 v2.8 readers. WFI was also named as a supplier of Alien’s ALR9772 and ALR9774 readers and SAMSys’ MP9320 v2.8 readers. The business process automation integrator RSI ID Technologies is also authorized to supply Symbol’s AR4022 readers and supporting equipment.

CDO, Intermec and Alien were all named in the first group of BPAs to supply RFID tags to the DOD.

Blanket Purchase Agreements indicate the contract framework and pricing for the items to be purchased. By using that framework to order equipment, all of the DOD branches can know that the equipment they purchase will operate within the DOD’s common, integrated structure for identifying, tracking, locating, and monitoring commodities and assets.

Details of the equipment pricing from each supplier covered by the new BPAs were not made public. The agreements are expected to result in the sale of at least 700 fixed RFID readers from multiple vendors over the next year, according to SAMSys. The BPAs will be in effect from May 11, 2005, to June 30, 2007.