RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Weir Oil & Gas upgrades its RFID-based service platform ••• Samsung SDS, Telensa partner on smart-city solutions ••• ERM Advanced Telematics, Altair Semiconductor team up on automotive IoT asset-tracking tech ••• Smart Cities for All, AT&T collaborate on smart-city playbook focused on disabilities ••• Frost & Sullivan recognizes Nordic ID's RFID retail checkout systems ••• Polte, GeoTraq offer mobile IoT asset trackers.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Weir Oil & Gas;
Samsung SDS, Telensa;
ERM Advanced Telematics, Altair Semiconductor;
Smart Cities for All, AT&T;
Nordic ID;
Polte, and GeoTraq.

Weir Oil & Gas Upgrades Its RFID-based Service Platform

Weir Oil & Gas, an upstream provider of pressure-pumping and pressure-control equipment and services, has announced enhancements to its Weir Edge Services platform. These enhancements are intended to reduce downtime and cost of ownership, the company reports, and to expand support for operators across the globe.

Weir says its engineering team can support operators globally with repairs that identify the root cause of equipment issues, in order to prevent reoccurrences. Warrantied equipment repairs take an engineered approach to restoring equipment to like-new conditions and extending its life, leveraging a 13-point flow, 16-point pump and 19-point fluid end repair process. Operators have visibility to review this process through SPM RFID/AMP, Weir’s RFID and asset-management program.

According to the company, maintenance instructions are printed directly on equipment, such as its new SPM EXL Frac Pump, to help field teams properly maintain components and reduce downtime. A digitally enabled training platform will be available at the end of 2019’s second quarter, which will provide customers with access to supporting materials like running procedures, manuals and expert advice. These new capabilities are intended to enhance existing tools, such as RFID and AMP, and to address the challenges operators can face with onboarding field teams burdened by the need to maintain a broad range of equipment on site.

For access to aftermarket parts, Weir Edge Services offers EdgeX Expendable Parts and Mobile Trailers, which can be deployed to operators’ sites and provide on-the-shelf inventory for expendable parts. This provides customers with on-demand consignment inventory that increases uptime and lowers inventory cost at frac sites.

“Weir understands that reducing downtime and lowering total cost of ownership are essential in order to remain competitive in today’s marketplace,” said David Paterson, Weir’s pressure pumping president, in a prepared statement. “Our expanded, three-pronged approach to Weir Edge Services ensures our customers’ operations are functioning at the highest level possible with exceptional access to engineering experts and extensive equipment repairs, aftermarket support, and digitally enabled empowerment tools that enable tracking assets, employee training and equipment maintenance, among others. We believe that by leveraging these offerings globally, this enhanced approach to our Weir Edge Services program will deliver a competitive edge to operators.”

Samsung SDS, Telensa Partner on Smart-City Solutions

Samsung SDS, the digital arm of Samsung, and Telensa, a provider of smart-streetlighting and smart-city data, have announced that they are working together on several smart-city projects. The two companies are collaborating on smart streetlighting and the Urban Data Project, a cloud platform that creates a trust infrastructure for urban data, enabling cities to collect, protect and use their data for the benefit of all citizens. The first such collaboration will involve city projects in Korea, with wider deployments slated to follow throughout the Asia-Pacific region and in the United States.

The initial area of collaboration is smart streetlighting. Telensa’s PLANet streetlight-control application is being combined with Samsung SDS’s Brightics IoT platform, enabling cities to achieve energy savings and access a variety of sensor applications. Samsung SDS will provide its Brightics IoT data-collecting platform, which is focused on retrieving and analyzing big data, powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Telensa will also leverage Samsung SDS’s expertise in other areas, such as 5G technology and blockchain, which require streetlight access for ubiquitous deployment.

Samsung SDS will work with Telensa on the Urban Data Project. This collaboration will integrate Brightics IoT with Telensa’s City Data Guardian. Urban data is the mosaic of street-by-street, minute-by-minute information that makes up a city’s digital twin. It includes mapping how people use the city, the mix of traffic on the roads, the hyper-local air quality and noise levels. This data is valuable for designing better city infrastructure and delivering more efficient city services, and is potentially also useful for such industries as retail, real estate and insurance.

To date, the use of urban data has been limited by two barriers, the companies indicate. The first is trust—how a city’s chief data officer can apply privacy policies and provide transparency to citizens regarding how information is protected and used. The second is the cost of single-purpose sensors and the related costs of moving raw video data to the cloud.

The Urban Data Project aims to solve these problems. The City Data Guardian is the trust platform that enables cities to apply transparent privacy policies, comply with data regulations, and make data available to improve services and drive city revenues. Multi-sensor pods installed on streetlight poles combine video and radar, and employ AI and machine learning to extract real-time insights from raw data.

ERM Advanced Telematics, Altair Semiconductor Team Up on Automotive IoT Asset-Tracking Tech

Altair Semiconductor, a provider of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) chipsets, has announced that it is partnering with ERM Advanced Telematics, a supplier of automotive technology and IoT solutions, to develop low-powered and installation-free automotive IoT systems.

ERM’s IoT and asset-management solutions leverage Altair’s cellular IoT chipsets to provide solutions for IoT, asset-management, stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) and vehicle financial services. These include event-based platforms for automatic vehicle location and asset-management applications using sensors. The ultra-low power consumption of Altair’s chipsets allows the device to be connected without having to be powered by a vehicle’s battery.

“As installation costs continue to rise in comparison to hardware prices, Altair’s unparalleled low power figures and extended battery life means we can provide on-board solutions with minimal installation requirements that are able to remain in the field for up to two years,” said Kfir Lavi, ERM Advanced Telematics’ senior VP and deputy CEO, in a prepared statement. “This will usher in a new dawn for IoT and asset management, opening up a whole new market of applications for a wide range of automotive IoT scenarios.”

“Low power consumption is essential for the efficient and long-term growth of the automotive IoT space,” said Gili Friedman, Altair Semiconductor’s director of business management, in the prepared statement. “We are delighted that ERM Telematics has selected Altair’s cellular IoT technology to provide the low cost and power-efficient connectivity necessary to enable new markets and use cases.”

Smart Cities for All, AT&T Collaborate on Smart-City Playbook Focused on Disabilities

Smart Cities for All, a global initiative of G3ict in partnership with World Enabled, has announced the launch of its new Inclusive Innovation Playbook. The tool, developed with support from AT&T, lays out steps that cities and their partners can take to infuse the urban innovation ecosystem with a greater focus on accessibility and a commitment to persons with disabilities.

“We firmly believe that inclusive innovation and accessibility define the smarter products, services, and solutions that contribute to a smarter city,” said Karen Tamley, the Commissioner of the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, in a prepared statement. “The City of Chicago is dedicated to encouraging an innovation ecosystem that is diverse and involves persons with disabilities. We are proud to partner with G3ict, AT&T, and World Enabled to develop the Smart Cities for All Inclusive Innovation Playbook as we progress closer towards our goal of making Chicago the most accessible city in the nation.”

Many citites around the world are using technology products and smart solutions to allow people to report issues like potholes and broken traffic lights, as well as create direct and personalized communication channels with residents, and facilitate digital or contactless payments for city services. According to global studies conducted by Smart Cities for All, the continuous technology innovation driving this digital transformation is not benefiting everyone, however. The playbook is intended to help cities, as well as their partners and stakeholders, address this challenge by defining the inclusion of everyone as part of the technology-innovation process, and integrating it into urban innovation ecosystems.

“Smart Cities technology can transform urban environments to be a better place for all people to live, work and play,” said Suzanne Montgomery, AT&T’s chief accessibility officer, in the prepared statement. “It’s critical that we work in unison to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem that develops technology that’s inclusive and accessible to all. It’s an honor for us at AT&T to offer this resource to cities. We strive to be a catalyst in making inclusive urban environments a reality.”

The Inclusive Innovation Playbook lays out five plays and related actions that cities can take to infuse incubators, accelerators and the innovation process with a commitment to inclusion and accessibility. These plays focus on a city’s citizens, economic assets, infrastructure and networking, as well as on enabling public policies. The playbook draws from successful practices and insights from the private sector, government and civil society.

The Inclusive Innovation Playbook builds on work by AT&T. In its 2018 white paper titled “Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future,” AT&T and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) outlined four keys to helping ensure that smart cities are inclusive cities. They called for smart cities worldwide to ensure that inclusion be an integral aspect of entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.

“Every day we’re seeing the power of smart cities solutions to transform communities, improve sustainability, and enhance the quality of life for citizens,” said Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president of IoT solutions, in the prepared statement. “From smart lighting to public safety, this new resource for smart cities will help us join together to build a more inclusive, scalable smart cities ecosystem.”

Frost & Sullivan Recognizes Nordic ID’s RFID Retail Checkout Systems

Based on its recent analysis of the European market for RFID for retail self-checkouts, Frost & Sullivan has recognized Nordic ID with its 2019 Europe New Product Innovation Award. The award was given for the company’s work in facilitating a significantly faster checkout experience.

Nordic ID signed a strategic partnership with IBM iX, the design and consulting division of IBM, to develop an RFID-based self-checkout solution. Inspired by the co-operation, the company developed an instant checkout solution, known as Nordic ID Self-Checkout. Instead of having to scan items one by one, customers can scan them instantly, thereby reducing checkout times to one-tenth of the time required for a cashier to scan nine items, the company reports.

“With Nordic ID Self-Checkout, the company has made the checkout experience quicker and more accurate for retail consumers,” said Ram Ravi, an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in a prepared statement. “In January 2019, Nordic ID also launched an advanced information desk solution that presents an integrated reading area and touchscreen display for digital content, retrieving the necessary information on the chosen product instantly whenever needed. It delivers optimum support to customers by facilitating product selection for purchase.”

Nordic ID offers informational materials, as well as technical and other support services, to customers in various industries. Furthermore, it provides a single application program interface (API) for all of its hardware, allowing for a faster and less costly integration. To aid the optimal application of its products by customers, the company built a support partner network consisting of its service facilities and authorized service partners worldwide.

With its RFID-based offerings, the company has aided Austrian Airlines (Austria’s largest carrier) in optimizing aircraft maintenance processes crucial to flight safety. Nordic ID’s Merlin solution helps technicians save time by enabling them to read safety information aboard aircraft using RFID-enabled measurements. This solution reduced Austrian Airlines’ mandatory in-cabin maintenance tasks, such as checking data on oxygen generators and life vests, by 90 percent, and thus reduced the need for labor by 66 percent, leading to higher efficiency and maintenance savings.

“In less than four decades, Nordic ID extended its commercial activity to over 10 locations worldwide across Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia,” Ravi said in the prepared statement. “Its outstanding value proposition, backed by full-range customer support, is expected to increase the adoption of RFID based solutions across verticals, all over the world.”

Polte, GeoTraq Offer Mobile IoT Asset Trackers

Polte, a provider of cloud location over cellular (C-LoC) technology, and GeoTraq, a mobile Internet of Things (IoT) module manufacturer and connectivity provider, have announced a collaboration to embed Polte’s location technologies into two GeoTraq NB-IoT/LTE-M modules: the Tracker-Module GT-TM100 and the Sensor-Module GT-SM100.

The C-LoC location solution enables GeoTraq to eliminate the need for GPS and GNSS radios by leveraging globally available mobile IoT (NB-IoT and LTE-M) networks. In addition to providing wide-area outdoor coverage ranging from rural to dense urban, the company reports, Polte’s location solution enables accurate tracking indoors, even when objects are inside vehicles or shipping containers.

The Tracker-Module GT-TM100 is designed for low-cost asset tracking and other location-based intelligent use cases. The module’s small form factor (16 millimeters by 12 millimeters) allows it to be incorporated into most battery-powered machines, tools or other products to provide intelligent insights. The GT-SM100 includes an eSIM and connectors for the attachment of antennas, batteries and sensors, including temperature, flow, pressure, humidity, motion and acceleration. It transmits small packets of data for scheduled reports or trigger-based event alerts, which GeoTraq expects will be configured using its WebTraq portal, and will be integrated with a customer’s choice of IoT platforms for visualization.

“We see a huge market opportunity for low-cost, battery powered IoT asset trackers across many industry verticals from shipping & transportation to manufacturing to tracking everyday objects,” said Ed Chao, Polte’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We are at the very beginning of what is possible with Mobile IoT. Polte’s positioning technologies together with GeoTraq’s innovative Mobile IoT modules deliver on the promise of the Internet of Things. The most common everyday objects will now be able to connect at an extremely low cost with very low power.”

“We have been working with Polte for over a year and they have a superior technology for adding location services to our small, low-cost line of Mobile IoT modules,” said Pierre Parent, GeoTraq’s general manager, in the prepared statement. “We believe that the business world has not fully grasped the changes that are occurring in the tracking industry and the advancements that positioning on the LTE radio channel will provide.