RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Weir Oil & Gas launches mobile iron asset management solution ••• Elatec intros new development board for RFID modules ••• Datamars Textile ID, Impinj form strategic partnership in RAIN RFID laundry market ••• Murata acquires ID-Solutions ••• Toshiba announces new ICs for BLE smart devices ••• Tyco Retail Solutions joins GS1 Alliance Partner Program ••• Atlas RFID Solutions wins 2017 President's "E" Award.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Weir Oil & Gas; Elatec RFID Systems; Datamars Textile ID, Impinj; Murata, ID-Solutions; Toshiba; Tyco Retail Solutions, GS1 Australia; and Atlas RFID Solutions.

Weir Oil & Gas Launches Mobile Iron Asset Management Solution

Weir Oil & Gas, a provider of pressure pumping and control equipment and services, has announced the launch of a technology designed to bring greater visibility and functionality to how companies manage iron assets from the field. Weir has developed a mobile application for Apple iPhone or Android devices designed to bring many of the benefits of the company’s SPM Asset Management Program (AMP) directly to the field.

“Technology has reshaped our industry in a number of ways over the last ten years, but one basic issue that has continued to burden service companies is pinpointing exactly where all of their iron is located,” said Chris Hibbert, Weir Oil & Gas’ pressure pumping VP of sales and service, in a prepared statement. “We set out to not only help them answer that question, but to go a step further in providing a comprehensive history and insight into asset integrity and performance.”

Weir is leveraging RFID technology to register each asset by serial number. Through this technology alone, a spread of iron can be accounted for within minutes, versus hours when compared to the manual process of counting and logging serial numbers by hand. In addition to the substantial time savings, the company reports, this approach reduces human error by automating the inventory process. A customer utilizing the app witnessed a 79 percent reduction in the amount time required to inventory a fleet of iron assets, according to Weir. The inventory of roughly 900 pieces of iron was recorded at serial number level detail, whereas it previously was recorded by product type only.

With SPM AMP and the newly launched mobile app, users can assign assets by crew or unit, as well as view Weir’s inspection certificates, so asset managers know the status of each piece of iron and its location within the fleet in real time. Companies required to show inspection certificates on the jobsite can quickly access them via the Weir app and email them to any exploration and production company representative as needed. This, Weir explains, eliminates the time-consuming task of searching stacks of paper for certificates, allowing operators to focus on productivity.

Weir has placed RFID tags on all iron leaving its factory dating back to 2015, enabling it to provide value-added services that can be expanded in the future. Weir also has the capability to retrofit older or competing iron on behalf of its customers.

Elatec Intros New Development Board for RFID Modules

Elatec RFID Systems, a manufacturer of RFID reader-writer modules, has announced its TWN4 MultiTech Nano Development Board. The new board provides RFID solution developers with an environment in which they can test the interfaces of the TWN4 MultiTech Nano multi-standard RFID reader module, which covers all current 125 kHz, 134.2 kHz and 13.56 MHz RFID technologies, along with the ability to read Near Field Communication (NFC) tags.

The TWN4 MultiTech Nano measures 31 millimeters by 17.8 millimeters by 2.5 millimeters. Its components are located only on one side, making it suitable for surface-mounting. It can be soldered directly to a printed circuit board or attached via pin connectors.

Elatec’s TWN4 MultiTech Nano Development Board

The TWN4 MultiTech Nano Development Board includes USB, Micro-USB and RS232 interfaces, as well as two serial interfaces (COM) to connect external add-ons, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) modules. Since the TWN4 MultiTech Nano is a reader module without integrated antennas, the development board features low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) antennas.

Two SAM sockets provide the option of using a key for security-critical applications. LEDs enable users to determine whether commands reach the correct interfaces. Because the antenna port is different between the two module versions, TWN4 MultiTech Nano and TWN4 MultiTech Nano LEGIC, one can use a breadboard to adapt the antennas to the respective module.

Datamars Textile ID, Impinj Form Strategic Partnership in RAIN RFID Laundry Market

Datamars Textile ID, a global supplier of RFID-based identification solutions for industrial laundries, has announced a strategic partnership in the laundry market with Impinj, a provider of RAIN RFID solutions. The partnership is intended to benefit industrial laundries by allowing continuous and synergistic research and development between the two companies.

A growing number of laundries have been implementing RAIN RFID systems, not only to reach higher productivity and avoid linen losses, but also to offer new RAIN RFID-based commercial concepts and services to their end customers. According to the company, a competitive advantage for modern industrial laundries can be achieved by being equipped with laundry-applied RAIN RFID technology, and by choosing the right RAIN RFID supplier.

Datamars and Impinj have co-developed a laundry-specific software layer, running on Impinj readers, that enables laundry managers to quickly deploy the RAIN RFID system. This software layer, known as Standalone, is enhanced with laundry-specific features that increase reading reliability and enables laundries using LF and HF RFID technology to transition to UHF technology, now referred to as RAIN RFID.

“As we enter a new era of RFID-centric processes, characterized by mature markets, companies must join their forces and different expertise to co-innovate and anticipate their customers’ needs,” said Riccardo Mazzolini, Datamars’ textile ID general manager, in a prepared statement. ” This close collaboration between our companies allows the prompt deployment of the last break-through technologies to the laundry field.”

“Automating processes, improving timeliness of services, and reducing inventory shrinkage help laundry facilities maximize their profits and deliver quality service to customers,” said Larry Arnstein, Impinj’s VP of solutions and business development, in the prepared statement. “The Datamars and Impinj solution was developed for those customer needs and brings together the strength of the Impinj platform with Datamars’ excellence and expertise in industrial laundry.”

Murata Acquires ID-Solutions

Murata Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of electronics components and solutions, has acquired ID-Solutions S.r.l., headquartered in Parma, Italy.

ID-Solutions is an RFID systems integrator that provides traceability solutions based on customers’ specific needs, including consultancy experience and the development of its own middleware and application software. ID-Solutions is a spinoff company of the University of Parma, a charter technology partner of RFID Lab Parma. It specializes in providing RFID solutions for supply chains, with a focus on the retail, food and health-care industries.

Combining ID-Solutions’ research background and expertise with Murata’s strengths—high investment in R&D, unique technologies, new product development capabilities and a broad global network—will benefit both companies, according to Murata and ID-Solutions. To date, Murata has mainly contributed to the RFID market as a hardware vendor. This acquisition will enhance its ability to propose solutions for RFID deployment, including software.

Toshiba Announces New ICs for BLE Smart Devices

Toshiba Corp. has announced the launch of two new ICs, models TC3567CFSG and TC3567DFSG, that offer low current consumption and increased security. The new ICs are the latest additions to Toshiba’s lineup of ICs supporting Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) ver.4.2 communications.

The new ICs offer a peak current consumption of 3.3mA at 3V voltage supply in transmission mode, by adopting a DC-DC converter and an original low-power circuit design. They can acquire a random number with a length of up to 32 bytes, using a random number generator. This function, the company notes, helps users to strengthen the information security of Internet of Things products.

Toshiba’s TC3567CFSG and TC3567DFSG ICs

The TC3567CFSG incorporates 128 kilobytes of Flash ROM for storing user programs and various data in standalone operations. The integration of an RF matching circuit and crystal load capacitors for a clock generator reduces the external component count during IC design, the company reports, with only seven components required for set development. This contributes to reductions in cost and mounting area.

The TC3567DFSG has no built-in Flash ROM and achieves low current operation by reducing the current consumption required for access to Flash ROM. This allows it to achieve long operating times for applications powered by small coin batteries. For example, using a CR2032-type coin battery, the new IC can carry out beacon operation for more than two years.

The new ICs will facilitate the adoption of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communications for IoT products that require a high level of security, including wearable devices for health-care applications and high-grade small devices that use coin batteries, such as sensors and toys.

Tyco Retail Solutions Joins GS1 Alliance Partner Program

GS1 Australia, a provider of standards and solutions for numerous industry sectors, has announced that Tyco Retail Solutions has joined the GS1 Alliance Partner Program as a Business Alliance Partner with GS1 Australia.

Tyco Retail Solutions provides security solutions and service to retail customers around the world. Operating in more than 100 countries, the company provides real-time visibility into inventory and assets, to improve retail operations and optimize profitability.

“We are happy to be making the commitment in aligning to the GS1 Alliance Partner Program,” said Steve Schenk, Tyco Retail Solutions’ sales director for inventory intelligence ANZ, in a prepared statement, “and are excited to further engage with the many organizations GS1 advises across retail and industry as we move into an IoT and unified commerce future.”

According to Joseli C Münive, GS1 Australia’s manager of alliances for the ICT industry, the addition of Tyco Retail Solutions into the GS1 Australia Alliance Partner Program provides a great asset to the Alliance Partner community. “With an already established network of value-added partners,” she said in the prepared statement, “including major GS1 member organizations around the world, Tyco demonstrates their commitment to global standards and alignment with GS1 initiatives in retail.”

Atlas RFID Solutions Wins 2017 President’s “E” Award

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross presented Atlas RFID Solutions with the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 22. The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition that any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

“Job creation is a top priority for the Trump administration,” Secretary Ross said. “As we kick off World Trade Week, it is a pleasure to honor Atlas RFID Solutions and other companies who increase our domestic exports and create good paying jobs for the American people.” In total, Secretary Ross honored 32 U.S. companies and organizations from across the United States with the President’s “E” Award for their role in strengthening the U.S. economy by sharing American ingenuity outside of our borders.

U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Awards through the U.S. Commercial Service, part of the department’s International Trade Administration. With offices across the United States and in embassies and consulates around the world, the International Trade Administration lends its expertise at every stage of the exporting process by promoting and facilitating exports and investment into the United States; administering anti-dumping and countervailing duties orders; and removing, reducing or preventing foreign trade barriers.

U.S. exports totaled $2.21 trillion in 2016, accounting for nearly 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Exports supported an estimated 11.5 million jobs nationwide in 2015, according to the most recent statistics from the International Trade Administration.