RFID News Roundup

Apex Supply Chain Technologies, Zebra Technologies announce strategic OEM relationship ••• Schreiner ProTech unveils globally usable RFID label for metal applications ••• RFID company Tönnjes acquires Utsch AG's stake in Utsch Tönnjes International ••• eX2 Technology intros smart truck parking system for Iowa Department of Transportation ••• Kerlink, Electronica Elemon partner to accelerate IoT adoption in Latin America ••• PodM2M offers IoT security monitoring, threat detection as standard on all connectivity products.
Published: January 10, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Apex Supply Chain Technologies, Zebra Technologies;
Schreiner ProTech;
Tönnjes, Utsch AG;
eX2 Technology, the Iowa Department of Transportation;
Kerlink, Electrónica Elemon; and

By Rich Handley

Apex Supply Chain Technologies, Zebra Technologies Announce Strategic OEM Relationship

Apex Supply Chain Technologies, a provider of self-serve automated solutions for use in a variety of industries and applications, including retail, restaurants and food service, has announced a strategic original equipment manufacturer (OEM) relationship with Zebra Technologies. This relationship provides Apex with access to an array of technologies, including Zebra’s scanning, imaging and RFID products for custom scanning solutions.

“Zebra’s focus and continued investment in technology aligns with today’s customers and those we’ll serve in the future,” said Mike Wills, Apex Supply Chain Technologies’ chief revenue officer, in a prepared statement. “With access to one of the largest, richest technology portfolios, Apex can continually ensure our customers have best-of-breed solutions. The strategic alignment of the markets our companies serve, including retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, will benefit our customers.”

Both companies will exhibit their solutions at the National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show event, to be held next week in New York City. The companies will showcase how retailers can enable shoppers to pick up products in lockers at their stores, by using a loyalty card or a bar code in an email receipt.

Schreiner ProTech Unveils Globally Usable RFID Label for Metal Applications

Schreiner ProTech, a German manufacturer of labels for engineering-based industries, has announced a product intended to address issues related to globalization: the ((rfid))-DistaFerr Global label. The solution has an integrated, dual-band antenna capable of reading both ETSI (in Europe) and FCC (in the United States and Asia) frequency bands.

As the latest member of Schreiner ProTech’s RFID on Metal family of label solutions, the ((rfid))-DistaFerr Global provides readability on all metallic substrates in markets throughout the world, the company reports. If a component is exported to several regions, the firm explains, it requires differing RFID labels; the new label thus covers both ranges.

The ((rfid))-DistaFerr Global label is intended to provide reliable readability on metal components, containers and transport items via specialized shielding materials. The label, measuring 50 by 40 millimeters, is 1.7 millimeter thick and has a read range of up to 3 meters. For a longer-range version, the read range is up to 6 meters. The label offers an alternative to hard tags, the company reports; it can be custom-printed and programmed onsite, can be automatically dispensed off the roll; and is suibtale for use in process automation and logistics applications.

RFID Company Tönnjes Acquires Utsch AG’s Stake in Utsch Tönnjes International

German company Tönnjes has announced that it has acquired Utsch AG‘s share in Utsch Tönnjes International GmbH to acquire the majority stake in the company. Utsch will exit the combined company in the process.

While Tönnjes has operated as a technology supplier in recent years, the firm is now emerging as a systems provider for vehicle registration and identification, ranging from license plate production and issuance to the creation of central registration systems. The new group has established subsidiaries at 50 locations outside of Germany, employing approximately 2,000 workers worldwide.

In addition to exporting goods, Tönnjes also invests in local subsidiaries. “We have always been a family business and want to develop long-term collaborations with our local partners,” said Dietmar Mönning, the company’s managing director, in a prepared statement. “That’s what makes us a reliable supplier and producer for each jurisdiction. We take full responsibility wherever we work, e.g. in the US, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. We get to know each jurisdiction and its needs, allowing us to adapt systems to local requirements.”

The group also supports the local economy by creating jobs, Tönnjes reports, adding that shorter transportation routes have a positive environmental impact. The Philippine authorities commissioned Tönnjes to produce around 5.5 million license plates and RFID stickers for the island nation at the beginning of 2018. The group carried out this project by establishing a local joint venture, by which number plates and electronic RFID labels are produced and personalized for cars and motorcycles.

“This acquisition will benefit our partners, authorities and governments,” Mönning said in the prepared statement. “It will make us even stronger and more reliable, because we’ve now got a more homogeneous structure, allowing us to make quicker decisions and streamline our operations.” The management team at Utsch Tönnjes International, which will herein operate under the name Tönnjes International GmbH, will also remain in place.

“We want to use our international experience and local presence to make the identification of vehicles as modern and secure as possible,” Mönning added in the statement. The firm is thus researching and developing technologies in line with Industry 4.0. The world’s first fully automated license plate production plant is currently being developed at the Italian Mint, and an intelligent embossing system (IDePres) is being used in Dubai to stop vehicle license plates from being given the wrong numbers. The automation and integration of embossing robots (IDeRobot), meanwhile, helps companies boost security. “Our machines can’t be manipulated, so every stage of the production process can be traced—even when our license plates are on the road.”

Tönnjes digitalizes its number plates to make them forgery-proof, the company claims. The IDePlate has an integrated passive RFID chip (NXP‘s UCODE DNA) containing a unique encrypted identification number that can be decoded by authorized readers and compared against governmental databases using electronic vehicle identification. “This invention is the first of its kind around the world,” Mönning added. “It’s going to revolutionize vehicle identification.”

The system includes an RFID windscreen sticker, the IDeStix, to prevent the manipulation of number plates, the forgery of validation tags and the misuse of stolen plates. IDePlate and IDeStix can already be found on vehicles in many countries.

eX2 Technology Intros Smart Truck Parking System for Iowa Department of Transportation

eX2 Technology has announced the acceptance of a truck parking information management system (TPIMS) that was deployed in partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation. The Iowa TPIMS solution, known as Trucks Park Here, is among the first statewide networks to be implemented in the Midwest, the agency reports, and operational usage commended last week.

“The technology used is site-specific and leverages video analytics, in ground magnometers or a combination of both,” says Jamie Karstetter, ex2 Technology’s senior manager for marketing and proposal development. “The sensors are both wired and wireless (again, site-specific based on site topography). The sensors send the data to a central cabinet at each site, and the information is then transmitted via a 4G LTE network to the aggregation server.”

Trucks Park Here provides real-time information on available truck parking spaces for public rest areas, private truck stops and other privately owned facilities along Iowa’s I-80, I-29, I-35, I-235 and I-380 corridors. The system connects to 41 truck parking facilities, including 24 public rest areas, 15 privately owned truck stops, one privately owned restaurant and one privately owned casino. Three additional sites will be connected to the Iowa network within the first quarter of 2019.

The Iowa project was part of a larger Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) initiative that was funded in part through a $25 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to a group of eight partnering states: Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. While each state was responsible for implementing its own TPIMS solution, the systems will eventually work together to provide a regional TPIMS. The Iowa Department of Transportation received $3.4 million in MAASTO grant dollars to fund the $4 million Trucks Park Here project, with a portion of the overall costs covering three years of systems maintenance and operations.

“eX2 Technology took an innovative and cost-conscious approach to designing Iowa’s TPIMS solution,” said Phil Mescher, a transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation, in a prepared statement. “eX2 incorporated existing pole and site infrastructure into the TPIMS design when possible, used low power consumption and solar powered solutions and worked independently to procure non-traditional parking site facilities to increase the overall number of truck parking spaces within the TPIMS network.”

The Iowa TPIMS is unique, the agency explains, in that its components are fully automated with a remote network monitoring system that provides operational, health and accuracy alerts and relies on a hybrid of detection methods to accurately assess available truck parking spaces, including screenline and space occupancy technologies, such as in-ground sensors and video analytics. The truck parking data is transmitted via a wireless network and is rapidly processed by the Truck Smart Parking Services Osprey software platform, in order to deliver the information to a public data feed for use by the Iowa’s 511 Traveler Information System, as well as third-party, in-cab routing systems and hands-free, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-compliant mobile apps.

“We’re really pleased with how seamless the project implementation went and the overall effectiveness of the solution,” said Kyle Hildebrand, eX2 Technology’s VP of project development, in the prepared statement. “We leveraged our success with the Colorado DOT TPIMS deployment to deliver a reliable and economically feasible solution that was right for Iowa. In the process, we perfected a standardized, off-the-shelf product that we can implement quickly throughout other states across the country.”

Kerlink, Electrónica Elemon Partner to Accelerate IoT Adoption in Latin America

Kerlink, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, and Electrónica Elemon, an electronic components distributor in Argentina, have announced that Electrónica Elemon is selling and installing Kerlink’s IoT solutions in that nation.

Established in 1975 and based in Buenos Aires, Electrónica Elemon serves the country’s largest cities, where it focuses on manufacturers and large businesses, as well as municipalities deploying smart-city solutions. The company also has sales offices in Miami to serve customers in other Latin American countries. With the second-largest economy in South America, Argentina provides Electrónica Elemon with a strong base for developing a LoRaWAN-oriented business model. In addition to smart cities, the company is focusing on multiple vertical markets, such as smart parking, smart lighting, smart agriculture, smart buildings, smart metering and waste management.

Electrónica Elemon has installed more than 250 Kerlink gateways, primarily the Wirnet iBTS Compact, a scalable, outdoor LoRaWAN gateway, in Argentina and throughout several major Latin American cities. Its LoRaWAN IoT coverage area in Argentina accounts for more than 70 percent of the country’s GDP.

“Building on more than 43 years of experience supplying major industries with high-quality electronic components and equipment, Electrónica Elemon is well positioned to accelerate adoption of the Internet of Things in our markets,” said Daniel M. Garbarino, the company’s president, in a prepared statement. “Our experience with Kerlink in the City of Buenos Aires confirmed for our customers and us why Kerlink is a leading global provider of LoRaWAN networks, and why partnering with them will help both our companies.”

“Electrónica Elemon is recognized as a very reliable business partner and supplier of high-quality equipment in Argentina,” said Ermeline Lebon, Kerlink’s head of channel sales, in the prepared statement. “Their thorough understanding of the vertical business sectors and their contacts will help position Kerlink as a leading provider of LoRaWAN solutions in what is becoming a very dynamic IoT market.”

PodM2M Offers IoT Security Monitoring, Threat Detection as Standard on All Connectivity Products

PodM2M (a division of Pod Group), a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) specializing in global connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, has announced an IoT monitoring and threat-detection solution, known as Pod Protect, which will now be included as standard on all of its IoT connectivity products.

Security is among the greatest barriers to the uptake of IoT solutions, the company reports, and with hackers becoming more sophisticated, the risks are increasing. Securing devices in the field is problematic, particularly with large-scale, global deployments. Pod Protect is designed to enable the constant monitoring of an IoT network via a machine-learning algorithm and a layered approach to combat sophisticated attacks, enabling users to detect threats before they affect IoT devices, and to react quickly to protect their network.

The solution can be quickly and easily installed via a probe on the network, according to the company, without the need for an agent on the device side. Once installed, it employs a three-layered threat-detection strategy, including signature- and anomaly-based monitoring and heuristics to detect suspicious device behavior. False positives are reduced by using a machine-learning algorithm to analyze normal device behavior and compare this with a global sensor network. According to PodM2M, the solution is sensitive enough to pick up very small indications that a hacker may be lying latent on a network.

“IoT devices are notoriously hard to secure, due to their small form factor and limited computational power,” said Sam Colley, Pod Group USA’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Software patching of devices can be costly and risky, especially if devices are deployed across a wide geographical area. For this reason, we are delighted to provide Pod Protect as standard on all our connectivity packages at no extra cost. Pod Protect provides a layer of security across the whole IoT network, by enabling constant monitoring of data transmissions for billions of devices in real time. This will allow our customers to scale their IoT deployments securely, as well as providing access to real-time threat databases to ensure detection of the latest threats and in-depth analytics via an intuitive dashboard on our platform.”