RFID Journal Announces Winners of Its Fifth Annual Awards

By Claire Swedberg

Gerry Weber International, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Mission Foods, Argonne National Laboratory, Intelleflex and Impinj's Chris Diorio have earned this year's awards, reflecting a variety of uses and achievements.

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At the RFID Journal LIVE! 2011 conference and exhibition, being held this week in Orlando, Fla., RFID Journal announced its 2011 RFID Journal Award winners—a diverse group that includes a German apparel retailer, a cruise line, a corn-flour and tortilla company, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory and a provider of battery-assisted EPC RFID tags and readers. The RFID Journal Awards recognize companies and organizations that have distinguished themselves by their successful use of radio frequency identification, or by their introduction of a valuable new RFID product or service.

This year’s winners were Gerry Weber International, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Mission Foods, the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, Intelleflex and Chris Diorio, Impinj‘s chairman and CTO.

The winners in each of six categories were selected by an independent panel of judges recruited by RFID Journal for their deep understanding of RFID, and who have no financial interests.

The Best RFID Implementation award was presented to German apparel retailer Gerry Weber International. The company’s solution integrates ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags into its product-care labels, enabling clothing items to be tracked from its factories to distribution warehouses, and on to 200 store locations (see Gerry Weber Sews in RFID’s Benefits).

The award for Best Use of RFID to Enhance a Product or Service went to Royal Caribbean Cruises, for a solution enabling guests to prepay for unlimited soft drinks, and to then serve themselves fountain beverages without having to wait on a service bar line. The system includes RFID readers built into drink dispensers, with antennas installed in the drip trays. According to Bob Midyette, Royal Caribbean’s director of fleet beverage operations, each beverage container has a built-in near-field EPC Gen 2 RFID inlay from Alien Technology, and back-end software confirms a guest’s ID number and then allows the dispensing of a 16-ounce drink. “The system allows us to improve service to our guests,” he explains, “and enhance sales with something that feels like magic.”

Mission Foods won the new RFID Green Award (the first recipient for this category), for a solution enabling the elimination of disposable corrugated boxes. “We wanted to reduce waste,” says Eduardo J. Valdes, Mission Foods’ VP. The company had been shipping as many as one million corrugated cartons out of its Texas facility alone, and was spending $5 million annually for all of its corrugated boxes. Thanks to an RFID tag attached to each container, he says, the company can now track and reuse the containers, thereby reducing its solid waste stream by 98 percent (see RFID Warehouse Solution Delivers ROI Within Months).

This year’s Best in Show award went to Intelleflex for its FMR-6000 and HMR-9090 multi-protocol battery-assisted passive (BAP) tags (the TMT-8500 temperature-monitoring tag, the BAT-8300 badge tag, the STT-8000 standard tag and the SMT-8100 tag for objects containing liquids and metals), as well as its interrogators. The system is based on Intelleflex’s XC3 technology, which is compliant with the ISO/IEC and EPCglobal standards for BAP RFID UHF technologies. This new generation of Intelleflex readers and tags provides a read and write range of more than 300 feet in RF-unfriendly environments containing metals or liquids. The tags and interrogators are compliant with the ISO/IEC 18000-6:2010 and EPC Gen 2 standards. With the long read range in harsh environments, the technology can be employed for applications involving the recording of temperatures for perishable foods and biopharmaceuticals, as well as for managing assets and tracking personnel. “We’re excited and honored to receive this award acknowledging Intelleflex’s XC3 technology and temperature-monitoring applications,” says Peter Mehring, the company’s president and CEO. “By monitoring temperatures, pharmaceutical and perishable-food companies can help ensure quality and reduce waste.”

Argonne National Laboratory won the award for the Most Innovative Use of RFID, for its ARG-US system, designed to ensure the safety of nuclear, radioactive and hazardous materials through greater visibility of RFID-tagged containers in transportation and storage for supporting vital DOE missions, as well as for environmental-management (EM) risk reduction. The lab began working on the solution five years ago, looking to ensure the safety of the containers, as well as the materials stored within. For the deployment, active RFID tags were attached to containers of hazardous materials, fixed readers were mounted in trailers wired to satellite devices, and graphical user interfaces were utilized to review the status and history of material movement and location, as well as for tracking vehicles. The system is currently installed at five DOE sites.

Finally, the RFID Special Achievement award went to Chris Diorio, Impinj’s chairman and CTO, for his work in the development of the UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID standard. Impinj is now working on the next version of the EPC RFID standard, he says, which includes anti-counterfeiting, security and file-management functionality, in order to enhance the way the tags are used.