RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

IXYS intros cylindrical LF half-duplex read-only RFID tag ••• FlexStr8 launches NFC temperature-logging label ••• AtlasRFIDstore becomes Tageos distribution partner ••• Martin's HQ installs Boon Edam RFID-enabled revolving door ••• U.K.'s Centre for Process Innovation heads up NFC packaging project ••• Northern Apex updates its personnel tracking solution.

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
AtlasRFIDstore, Tageos;
Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc., Boon Edam; the
U.K. Centre for Process Innovation; and
Northern Apex.

IXYS Intros Cylindrical LF Half-Duplex Read-Only RFID Tag

IXYS Integrated Circuits Division (ICD), a wholly owned subsidiary of IXYS, has announced the availability of the NCD1015ZP, a low-frequency (LF) half duplex, read-only RFID transponder. The 134.2 kHz transponder is suitable for applications including inventory management, ingress or egress discovery, real-time container tracking, manufacturing production flow control, vehicle identification, security access administration and high-value asset monitoring, according to the company.

The NCD1015ZP, which measures 50 millimeters (2 inches) in length and 17 millimeters (0.7 inch) in diameter, has 64 bits of pre-programmed or custom-programmed identification data storage and uses a 16-bit CRC error checking code generator to ensure data integrity. It supports the ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 standards.

IXYS' NCD1015ZP transponder

The passive transponder's integrated ferrite antenna enhances the tag's reading distance over what is obtained by non-ferrite antenna designs, IXYS reports, while the polyurethane encapsulating material boosts the mechanical robustness, making the tag suitable for deployment in harsh environmental conditions.

According to Nathan Zommer, IXYS' founder and CEO, the new product was designed and produced by IXYS San Sebastian, the company's European ASIC and RFID division. The transponder contains IXYS's proprietary RFID SOC IC and is sold through the firm's Integrated IC division and sales channels worldwide.

FlexStr8 Launches NFC Temperature-Logging Label

Flexstr8 has launched a new disposable smart label designed to provide a complete temperature history of perishable goods. The Flexstr8 Temperature Logging SmartLabel is thin enough to be easily integrated into packaging, the company reports, making it suitable for monitoring products in the biopharmaceuticals, chemical and agricultural industries throughout the cold chain cycle.

The smart label has a battery lifespan of a year or more, depending on the logging rate, and contains 28 kilobytes of memory, allowing for 14,000 measurements. It features an internal accurate temperature sensor (default +/- 0.5 degrees Celsius) with a range of –20 degrees to +50 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees to +122 degrees Fahrenheit). The internal time reference offers accountability and traceability across the entire logistics chain of exposure, Flexstr8 says.

The Flexstr8 Temperature Logging SmartLabel

Communication with the tag, which supports the ISO 14443A standard, is accomplished via a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID reader, such as those found in NFC-enabled Android-based smartphones. A free FlexStr8 SmartTemp app (available for android devices at Google Play) can be used to turn the logger on or off, and to set its log intervals (as short as every 5 seconds and as long as every 10 hours) and temperature limits. Logged data is graphically displayed, the firm reports, and can be dumped to device memory, uploaded to the cloud or e-mailed for further analysis. According to the company, an iOS version of the app is currently being designed around a custom inexpensive NFC reader attachment.

"Current temperature loggers are expensive, bulky, and have poor battery life. Furthermore, most data loggers are built under the assumption that they will be reused," said Eric Casavant, Flexstr8's head of product development, in a prepared statement. "However, many customers stated that they rarely get their data loggers back after shipment, prompting us to make an inexpensive disposable logger."

Available now, the label has a retail price of $15.99.

AtlasRFIDstore Becomes Tageos Distribution Partner

RFID technology distributor Atlas RFID Store, an e-commerce store providing RFID components and hardware, has announced a new distribution partnership with European ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID label manufacturer Tageos.

Under the terms of the new partnership, Atlas will offer Tageos' comprehensive portfolio of ready-to-use RFID paper-based labels and hangtags, as well as plastic-based products for specific applications. Atlas says it will also include Tageos' products in its service bureau offerings for UHF RFID label printing and encoding.

According to Atlas, the partnership with Tageos is key to its strategy, due to Tageos' innovative manufacturing technology designed to deliver cost-effective RFID products in an environmentally sustainable manner.

"Tageos is committed to providing unique RFID tags and labels to a wide range of customers in America," added Mike Grobler, Tageos' VP of sales and business development for the Americas, in the statement. "A growing number of customers across Europe are benefiting from the unique capabilities Tageos tags and labels offer, largely due to Tageos' revolutionary patented design and manufacturing processes. Thanks to our relationship with atlasRFIDstore.com we will expand the availability of Tageos cutting edge RFID tags to customers across North America."

Tageos' products are now available for purchase at www.atlasrfidstore.com.

Martin's HQ Installs Boon Edam RFID-enabled Revolving Door

Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. has installed a Boon Edam Tourlock security revolving door at its new corporate office in Chambersburg, Pa.

The Tourlock door that Martin's is using leverages HID Global's RFID technology for access control. It also includes Boon Edam's StereoVision 2. StereoVision 2 is a piggybacking-detection system for the Tourlock 180+90 that is able to recognize shapes, size and volume in three dimensions, the company reports, using time of flight technology and a combination of near-infrared and optical sensors. By analyzing these data points, Boon Edam explains, the system determines the number of people attempting to enter a single compartment on one authorization and stops the door if a violation occurs.

The Tourlock 180+90 door works in conjunction with BoonConnect, an IP-addressable, proprietary software system that provides diagnostic and configuration tools for technicians and facility managers, according to Boon Edam. Users can access door operations and events using such devices as a tablet, laptop or smartphone, via a secured corporate network.

Now, Boon Edam says, for the first time in nearly 30 years, all of Martin's administrative departments, comprising more than 80 employees, are located in one building—a new corporate headquarters recently built adjacent to the company's current bakery. This recent expansion is the eighth time that the firm has expanded its facility. The Phase 8 building project includes a new 43,000-square-foot corporate office, approximately 145,000 square feet of warehouse space, air conditioning in the new warehouse and bakery, and major site work creating new entrances and truck traffic flow on campus.

An essential component of the newly constructed building is the walking bridge connecting the corporate offices to the bakery, according to Boon Edam. All employees now enter the bakery through the administration building using the new Boon Edam revolving door. This is a security and safety improvement, meeting regulatory requirements to which food production companies like Martin's must strictly adhere. A Boon Edam Tourlock revolving door was chosen for the building's primary entrance, the company explains, because it is secure using radio frequency identification and can reject tailgating attempts.

"Keeping food safety and general manufacturing processes in mind, we want to know who is on the bakery floor; security is part of the policy and something that is always top-of-mind," said Kevin Franzoni, Martin's facility manager, in a prepared statement. "We liked the Boon Edam door because the company specializes in these type of doors, and it requires RFID access to enter."

The new building opened in July 2015, and the entrance was installed at that time. The human resources department provided training and orientation for employees regarding door operation.

U.K.'s Centre for Process Innovation Heads Up NFC Packaging Project

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), established in 2004 by the U.K. government, has announced a new three-year project known as SCOPE, aimed at building the manufacturing capability, capacity and skills required to commercialize smart products with printed Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors. In addition, CPI reports, SCOPE will help to position the United Kingdom as a world leader in the production of those products.

According to CPI, NFC is emerging as a technology for a variety of applications, such as providing product differentiation on fast-moving consumer goods, tracking or indicating the authenticity of a product in logistics, and anti-tampering controls, which also provides data-management information. Using printable electronics, companies will one day be able to produce NFC tags in high volumes, at low costs and with conformable geometries. However, CPI notes, in order for these products to reach retailers, technological innovation is required to develop the supply chain to facilitate the price points and market volumes that the industry needs for mass market adoption.

SCOPE's aim, according to CPI, is to develop new processes, equipment and applications to enable the high-volume manufacturing (billions or even trillions) of printed electronic components used to make NFC tags. The project is providing a technology platform for the development of new functionalities, applications, and specialist skills and capabilities. A key emphasis of the project, the firm adds, is to apply highly automated and high-speed integration techniques to meet target costs of less than one cent per NFC tag.

The consortium comprises 14 partners across the U.K.'s packaging supply chain, including Unilever, Hasbro and Crown Packaging, along with product supply chain companies Andrews & Wykeham and Mercian Labels. Additionally, the consortium unites complementary technical expertise in the production of flexible integrated circuits (PragmatIC), the automation of processes (Optek), ferrite materials (the University of Kent), electronics design (Silvaco), polymer substrates (Innovia), inks (Invotec and CPI), NFC know-how (NFS) and systems integration (CPI and PragmatIC). The British Print Industry Federation is supporting dissemination for the project, linking the supply chain together and providing end-user feedback on the technology's market readiness.

The project covers multiple application sectors, such as fast-moving consumer goods, beverages, games and security, according to CPI, and provides a platform to develop second-generation opportunities within other key U.K. sectors, including health care, food, energy, built-environment, defense and transport. Currently, the firm reports, initial concepts are being developed around low-cost, high-volume, printed logic circuits for integration into labels for smart packaging and product branding on fast-moving consumable goods.

To date, says Mike Clausen, CPI's program manager, the consortium has worked closely to produce a range of NFC product concepts that integrate logic circuits produced on flexible substrates. Next steps will be to scale up the manufacturing process to ensure that the NFC applications are produced at the cost and speeds industry demands. To do this, Clausen explains, the consortium is currently developing the capability to produce market trial samples of up to 50,000 to 100,000 tags.

Northern Apex Updates Its Personnel Tracking Solution

Northern Apex has announced an update to its Personnel Tracking Solution designed to help companies track employees throughout their facilities as part of security and safety processes. The solution uses a last-time location system (LTLS) architecture—which, according to Northern Apex, requires less infrastructure and is more cost-effective than a real-time location system (RTLS).

The LTLS system uses choke points—sensors on doors in key areas—to track the last time an employee passed through a location. From that, the system uses algorithms to make logical decisions regarding where that individual is located within a building.

The new upgrade features improved software algorithms that have been designed to provide more accurate readings, the company reports. "In some cases," explains Kevin Knuth, Northern Apex's business development manager, "we have adjusted our antenna and tag choices to help as well, but since each installation is custom, this varies by customer." While installations are custom and vary in terms of equipment, Knuth says, the preferred implementation is driven by the company's custom software, in concert with Impinj Speedway Revolution readers and tags made with Monza 5 and 6 RFID chips.

"Our system isn't like what you see in the movies," Knuth says. "In Mission Impossible, they can track someone and watch them walking along a corridor. That's an option we can provide if a customer wanted it, but we've found most companies don't need that level of granularity. The greater the granularity, the more expensive the system. Our system is designed for companies that need to track employees in and out of secure zones, such as a bonded warehouse or a high-value item lock-up area in a department store. It's a cost-effective solution to personnel tracking, and the uses are limited only by your imagination."