RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

ASK offers Class 1 EPC labels for 20 cents; Paxar label printer passes interoperability test; Savi launches "RFID value assessment" program; Accu-Sort enhances RFID label applicators; new RFID handheld tracks tools; TrenStar raises $30 million.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of Sept. 13.

ASK Offers Class 1 EPC Labels for 20 Cents

ASK, a French provider of RFID technology, announced that it has passed EPCglobal’s hardware interoperability test and will offer 4- by 6-inch EPC Class 1 printable and self-adhesive labels for 20 U.S. cents in volumes of 10 million units or more. The tests evaluated the interoperability of ASK’s EPC Class 1 C.label (also known as the ASK 001 tag) with the ALR-9780 reader from Alien Technology and the MP 9320-1 reader from Samsys. They were administered on behalf of EPCglobal, the nonprofit organization set up to commercialize Electronic Product Code technology, by MET Laboratories, a company that provides extensive testing and consulting services, in MET Lab’s controlled environment located in its Baltimore facility.

Paxar Label Printer Passes Interoperability Test

Paxar, a White Plains, N.Y.-based provider of bar code and identification technologies, announced that Paxar’s Monarch 9855 EPC Class 1 RFID printer-encoder has passed EPCglobal’s hardware interoperability test for use with Alien Technology’s Class 1 Omega Tag (commonly known as the “squiggle tag”). Paxar’s printer-encoder was shown capable of reading the tag, writing to the tag, writing to several tags with consecutive serial numbers, and locking the tag. EPCglobal’s hardware interoperability tests, which were conducted in August by MET Laboratories, are meant to provide guidance to end users in selecting EPC hardware products that work together. For complete Hardware Interoperability test results, visit www.epcglobalinc.org/interoperability.

Savi Launches “RFID Value Assessment” Program

Savi Technology has unveiled an “RFID Value Assessment” consulting services package for customers trying to meet or go beyond recent RFID requirements from the U.S. Department of Defense, Wal-Mart and others. Savi says its Global Consulting Services will analyze a customer’s supply chain business process, then design a system, assess the potential business benefits and integrate the customer’s networking software of choice with any type of automatic identification and data collection technology, including bar codes, sensors, EPC-compliant, passive and active RFID tags, and satellite tracking systems.

Accu-Sort Enhances RFID Label Applicators

Accu-Sort Systems, a Telford, Pa.-based provider of auto-ID systems, has enhanced its FAST Tag RFID line of RFID tag applicators to help retail suppliers meet RFID compliance mandates. Among the enhancements are the ability to work with new RFID thermal printer-encoders from Zebra, SATO and Datamax; the ability to place RFID tags on the side, front, back or top of cases; and the ability to operate in batch mode for a consistent product mix. The applicators come with software for managing Electronic Product Codes. This software has been upgraded to track the number of nonresponding tags per roll; the number of tag-encoding errors for low-performing tags; and the correlation of RFID data to bar codes on the case.

New RFID Handheld Tracks Tools

Quelis ID Systems, a Mirabel, Quebec-based provider of low-frequency RFID technology, has introduced the IndustrialQHandheld, a low-frequency (LF) RFID reader and handheld computer. The device features the Microsoft Windows CE.NET 4.2 operating system, an Intel Xscale processor and a color touch screen display that is readable in sunlight. The IndustrialQHandheld operates at 125 kHz and 134 kHz and reads Philips Semiconductor’s HITAG-S and EM Microelectronics’ 4X02, 4X05, 4X50, 4X69 LF tags. The device can be used to scan ear tags on animals, as well as to track tools. LF tags can be read more consistently on metal objects than either high-frequency (13.56 MHz) or ultra-high frequency (868 to 956 MHz) tags, so the device could be used to check tools into and out of a tool crib in an industrial facility.

TrenStar Raises $30 Million

TrenStar, a Denver-based company that buys, tracks and manages logistics assets using RFID, has raised $30 million in a second round of funding. One half of the capital comes from current shareholders, Trencor Limited and The Carlyle Group, and the other half is being provided by Technology Investment Capital in Greenwich, Conn. TrenStar purchases beer kegs and other assets and manages them on an outsourced basis for companies, including Coors, Kraft, Goodyear and Burberry. The funding will enable the company to continue to acquire assets. Last September, TrenStar raised $34 million from Carlyle Venture Partners, the venture arm of The Carlyle Group, Trencor Limited and other strategic investors. TrenStar devoted portions of the funding to various growth initiatives, including further technology development.

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