RFID News Roundup

German P&G plant to use RFID to manage industrial trucks; Invengo announces UHF reader that supports Wi-Fi, GPRS, Bluetooth; TeleTracking Technologies acquires RTLS provider RadarFind; Bielomatik, SmarTrac collaborate on smart label solutions; Muehlbauer intros new RFID converting line; Cybra announces joint venture with China Ministry of Transportation.
Published: September 24, 2009

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

German P&G Plant to Use RFID to Manage Industrial Trucks

Procter & Gamble Manufacturing , a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., has announced that it has selected an RFID-, sensor- and GPS-enabled system from I.D. Systems that is designed to help it better manage a fleet of industrial trucks at a production and distribution facility in Germany. The order was facilitated by I.D. Systems’ German subsidiary, I.D. Systems GmbH. The I.D. Systems solution includes the Vehicle Asset Communicator (VAC), which functions as an active 900 MHz RFID tag. Each VAC has a GPS unit attached to it, in order to track a vehicle’s location. The VAC communicates its ID number and location to I.D. Systems’ interrogators and antennas, which can be affixed to buildings, the company reports, and offers a read range of between a half mile and a mile. In order to operate a VAC-equipped vehicle, a worker must present his RFID-enabled badge to the VAC’s built-in RFID interrogator. P&G’s goal, I.D. Systems indicates, is to improve workplace safety and security by restricting vehicle access to trained, authorized operators, as well as reduce fleet maintenance costs by tracking vehicle usage. In a prepared statement, Peter Fausel, the company’s executive VP of sales and marketing, said, “for P&G, we were able to configure our Vehicle Management System such that P&G drivers could continue using their existing employee identification badges, and the system could communicate over P&G’s existing wireless network using advanced Wi-Fi security protocols.”

Invengo Announces UHF Reader that Supports Wi-Fi, GPRS, Bluetooth

Chinese RFID hardware manufacturer Invengo has added a new fixed ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) interrogator and a new jewelry tag to its product portfolio. The UHF Gen 2 860E reader supports Wi-Fi, GPRS and Bluetooth. According to Invengo, the addition of these wireless communications means the device does not require an Ethernet data cable. This, the company reports, reduces the costs associated with Ethernet cable installations and enabling companies to install and use the reader in a variety of locations—such as in libraries, where readers are often required to be mounted on wheeled carts—or to move them as needed. The UHF Gen 2 860E incorporates Impinj‘s Indy processor, enabling it to work in dense-reader mode. The interrogator features advanced filtering techniques, supports multiple protocols (EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C) and an operating frequency of 902-928 MHz, and offers a read range of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet). Available now in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the reader is priced at is $1,495. The device is also available in the Asian market, and is expected to become available in Europe later this year. In order to ensure a smooth integration into the European market, Invengo has appointed two key distributors in the region, UKCoding and StocksRFID. The UHF Gen 2 860E will sell for €1,300 ($1,900) in Europe, according to Invengo. In addition to the new reader, the firm has also announced its XCTF-8108-C04 jewelry tag. The passive tag is delivered on rolls to enable ease of scalability in jewelry-tracking application environments, and conforms to the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards. The XCTF-8108-C04 features memory for a 96-bit EPC number and a 32-bit tag identifier (TID), and offers a read range of up to 1.2 meters (3.9 feet).

TeleTracking Technologies Acquires RTLS Provider RadarFind

TeleTracking Technologies, a provider of automated bed-management and patient/materials transport software for hospitals, has announced its acquisition of real-time location system (RTLS) company RadarFind. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Hospitals such as the Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC), in Lumberton, N.C., and Mary Washington Hospital, in Fredericksburg, Va., are employing RadarFind’s RTLS to track such assets as cardiac telemetry units (see N.C. Hospital Looks to RadarFind to Improve Asset Visibility and Mary Washington Hospital to Deploy RFID Facility-Wide). The RadarFind system includes active 902-928 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponders that can be attached to assets and interrogators that plug directly into an outlet. The readers capture a tag’s signal, which includes a unique ID number, and transmit that data wirelessly over the same UHF band, to so-called collectors installed around the hospital. The collectors then pass that information on to a RadarFind server via a local area network. The interrogators can calculate an item’s location to within several feet on the floor on which it is located, using a combination of signal strength and other processes. In a prepared statement, TeleTracking’s CEO, Anthony Sanzo, said, “Engineering progress and new technologies, especially like that of RadarFind, now allow us to confidently incorporate RTLS for more precise tracking visibility of patients and beds on our enterprise-class platform, TeleTracking XT.” That platform, TeleTracking explains, is designed to help hospitals improve patient flow, thus enabling hospitals to discharge patients in a timely manner, as well as turn over rooms more efficiently, move patients comfortably and safely, and place a patient in the most clinically appropriate bed. “Now, with the RadarFind technology, it adds the ability of automatically triggering patient-flow transactions,” Sanzo said. “Transparently communicating information such as a bedded patient, a pending transfer or discharge, a patient’s location, or the start and stop of bed turnover or patient transportation, is a truly unique way to cut unnecessary time out of the patient flow continuum.”

Bielomatik, SmarTrac Collaborate on Smart Label Solutions

SmarTrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is teaming up with Bielomatik Leuze, a supplier of smart label laminating and personalization solutions based in Neuffen, Germany. Under the terms of the agreement, SmarTrac will be the preferred partner in developing and marketing Bielomatik’s RF-LoopTag UHF chip module technology. Bielomatik reports that its RF-LoopTag technology, used with the company’s RFID label converting-machine solutions, can create a chip module with a new form factor that enables converting companies to more easily manufacture UHF RFID smart labels. The technology is designed to facilitate the placement of chip modules onto a secondary broadband UHF antenna. According to the two companies, due to the contactless coupling method, the production of RFID-enabled packaging materials can be streamlined through the use of RF-LoopTag technology, even on hidden secondary antennas. “Bielomatik converting-machine owners will greatly appreciate the simplification and improved process reliability,” said Martin Bohn, Bielomatik’s division manager of RFID, in a prepared statement, “as well as a significant cost savings.”

Mühlbauer Intros New RFID Converting Line

Mühlbauer a provider of systems and software solutions for the production and personalization of cards, passports and RFID labels and other media, has announced a new RFID converting solution. According to the company, the CL 60000 is suitable for a variety of output products: wet inlays, self-adhesive labels, tickets, hangtags and baggage tags. Clients can also choose between various adhesive options, like transfer adhesive or hot melt. The CL 60000 can operate at speeds of up to 90 meters (295 feet) per minute, thus making it able to process up to 54,000 tickets on ID-1 format—which specifies a size of 85.60 by 53.98 millimeters (3.370 by 2.125 inches), and is commonly used for banking cards, such as ATM and credit/debit cards—110,000 labels or 11,000 baggage tags per hour. The system features a variable input spooler, so it can optionally work in a two-row parallel mode, either to double the throughput or to handle four layers. The CL 60000 includes an integrated test station that checks the quality of the labels, tickets or tags, Mühlbauer reports, as well as a reject station for sorting out bad inlays. According to the company, processed labels can be wound-up, folded (fanfold) or cut into single items.

Cybra Announces Joint Venture With China Ministry of Transportation

Cybra, which produces software for generating bar-code labels, RFID smart labels and electronic forms, and Key West Technologies have signed an agreement with the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Transportation’s Waterborne Transportation Institute (WTI) to form a joint venture to develop, manufacture and market products that add intelligence to shipping products, in order to track and monitor goods throughout the supply chain. These products, the partners report, will consist of smart shipping containers and other smart transport units that leverage Cybra’s EdgeMagic RFID Control Software, and Key West Technologies’ Globe Tracker Global Tracking and Monitoring Data Exchange Network, as well as additional intellectual property developed under the joint venture, which will be known as Beijing Smart Shipping Technologies (SST). The venture’s resulting products and services, Cybra reports, will let shippers know the location and condition of the goods in transit. At the signing ceremony at the WTI’s Beijing offices, Key West’s CEO, Jim Davis, displayed an early prototype SST tracking device developed by his company and its technology partners. The device will include ultra-low-power Wi-Fi technology from GainSpan, based in Los Gatos, Calif.