RFID News Roundup

Daimler joins EPCglobal; KeyTrak, MyDealerLot offer RFID key, inventory management for car dealers; U.S. Army deploys solar-powered RFID; RFID markets to stay strong during next five years, ABI Research reports; Convergence Systems Ltd. interrogator earns Chinese certification.
Published: November 23, 2007

The following are news announcements made during the week of Nov. 19.

Daimler Joins EPCglobal

Automaker Daimler has joined RFID industry standards organization EPCglobal, according to GS1 Germany, making it the first car manufacturer to join as a full member. Daimler has been testing RFID in its businesses to help streamline and improve the visibility of its supply chains and production processes. In 2006, for example, the company employed passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID inlays with its just-in-time manufacturing management system at production sites in Unterturkheim, near Stuttgart (see DaimlerChrysler Putting RFID Tags in Kanban Cards). Daimler says it joined EPCglobal because it believes RFID technology will help improve automotive production processes, and that the use of the EPC number system can help reduce the variety of different, incompatible numbering systems currently in use by automakers and their suppliers. It also says it joined to be involved in the development of automotive-related RFID standards early on in the process.

KeyTrak, MyDealerLot Offer RFID Key, Inventory Management for Car Dealers

KeyTrak, a provider of key- and asset-tracking systems and key-management solutions, has partnered with MyDealerLot, which offers a real-time location system (RTLS) designed to help track inventory at automotive dealerships. MyDealerLot RTLS active RFID tags are affixed to cars to provide detailed information about each car’s location in a lot at any given time. That information, along with sales data, is intended to help dealers better manage their inventory (see Atlanta Mercedes Dealership to Adopt RFID at New Location). KeyTrak and MyDealerLot are integrating their products so dealerships can determine, in real time, where a specific car is located on a lot when the car’s corresponding key is pulled. The car’s location will appear on a location map on the KeyTrak display. In addition, KeyTrak will become an authorized reseller of MyDealerLot. The integrated system is expected to become available by year’s end.

U.S. Army Deploys Solar-Powered RFID

A major U.S. Army supply facility will soon begin using solar power to activate battery-powered RFID tags, according to Savi Technology. Solar energy can be employed to power Savi’s Signposts, the company says, eliminating the need to install electrical infrastructure, a benefit for RFID systems deployed in remote areas. The solar-powered Signposts transmit a signal that activates dormant Savi 433 MHz RFID tags attached to nearby vehicles or pieces of equipment. The Signposts also transmit location information to the passing tags, which can then report that data and their unique ID numbers to nearby RFID interrogators. According to Savi, the facility tracks more than 25,000 tags per day using the Savi system, and plans are underway with the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the use of solar-powered applications to other areas in the Middle East and beyond. The solar-powered installation in Kuwait isn’t Savi’s first; the company operates an RFID-based network for Colombian logistics provider Empresa de Prevención y Vigilancia (Emprevi) that also leverages solar energy to power Savi RFID Signposts and readers. The network is using an RFID solution from Savi Networks, a joint venture in which Savi Technology holds a majority interest, to track shipments of goods from their point of manufacture to the port of Buenaventura on their way out of the country (see Emprevi Launches Service for Securing, Tracking Cargo). Savi Networks installed solar-powered panels at strategic supply chain checkpoints, including source factories and port facilities, to monitor in-transit goods manufactured in and exported from Colombia.

RFID Markets to Stay Strong During Next Five Years, ABI Research Reports

Market research firm ABI Research, located in Oyster Bay, N.Y., is forecasting the worldwide RFID market will reach $8.4 billion in 2012. In a new study, “The RFID Annual Market Overview”, the firm indicates the market will grow at an annual rate of 21 percent, starting from a base of more than $3.8 billion in annual revenue in 2007. The new study is an overview of vertical and application markets for RFID systems, and points to asset-tracking and real-time location systems (RTLS) as popular RFID applications gaining significant traction. It cites the fashion apparel and footwear item-tagging markets as industries stepping up their RFID pilots and trials, especially in Europe, and says the use of RFID for government ID documents is another strong segment, particularly for e-passports and national ID cards in China.

Convergence Systems Ltd.’ Interrogator Earns Chinese Certification

Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL), an RFID provider in Hong Kong, has announced that its passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Class 1 Gen 2 interrogator has been certified to operate in China by the country’s State Radio Regulation Committee (SRRC), part of China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII). Earlier this year, China officially designated the 840.25 to 844.75 MHz and 920.25 to 924.75 MHz bands for use by UHF RFID tags and interrogators in that country (see China Approves Requirements for UHF Bandwidth). The SRRC certification verifies that the CSL readers conform to China’s new RFID regulations. CSL manufactures active and passive RFID interrogators, antennas, RFID modules and custom RFID tags, and its readers come with built-in middleware and edge server application supporting EPC Gen 2 specifications. A member of EPCglobal, CSL is affiliated with the Chungnam group of companies.