RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

Alien debuts 96-bit class 1 EPC tags; SSA RFID-enables distribution software; Argent boosts RFID label production capacity; partners to offer RFID application integration; new handheld Bluetooth RFID reader.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of Sept. 6.

Alien Debuts 96-Bit Class 1 EPC Tags

Alien Technology, a Morgan Hill, Calif.-based RFID systems provider, has announced the release of EPC Class 1 tags with 96-bits of user-programmable memory. Alien had previously been offering 64-bit EPC Class 1 tags. The company says the new tags deliver up to 40 percent greater read range than previous versions and are suitable for use in Europe, where new regulations for UHF RFID systems have just been ratified. In addition to offering 96-bit versions of its current tags, Alien is launching several new tags that use the 96-bit microchip and are optimized for pharmaceuticals, baggage tags, retail hangtags and other applications. Alien is also offering readers and reader modules that support the 96-bit tags. The company will provide samples of the tags to customers in October and initial production shipments will begin in November. Alien says it can produce 2 billion units in 2005.

SSA RFID-Enables Distribution Software

SSA Global, a Chicago-based enterprise applications provider, has added RFID support to its warehouse management software. SSA says its RFID for Distribution is the first of several RFID applications for warehouse management and manufacturing that it will be introducing. DC Logistics, a company that owns and operates distribution centers, is piloting SSA RFID for Distribution at DC Logistic’s RFID Deployment Center in Dallas. The center’s goal is to enable customer compliance for shipments to Wal-Mart’s RFID-enabled distribution centers in north Texas.

Argent Boosts RFID Label Production Capacity

The Argent Group, a Troy, Mich.-based company that produces specialty labels, says that it is boosting its capacity to insert RFID inlays into finished pressure-sensitive or part-printed thermal transfer labels from the 100 million per year today to 300 million per year by mid-2005. Argent has purchased two more insertion machines from a European company. It declined to name the company because Argent says it is the only label converter in the United States using its equipment, which Argent says is superior to other insertion machines. Argent is adding test stations to make sure the transponders work in the labels it produces.

Partners to Offer RFID Application Integration

GlobeRanger, a Richardson, Texas-based provider of RFID middleware, and ESYNC, a Toledo, Ohio-based supply chain consulting, facilities engineering and systems integration firm, have formed a partnership to deploy GlobeRanger’s iMotion Edgeware platform at International Paper’s Customer Solutions Center. Using the GlobeRanger middleware, ESYNC developed workflows that are representative of typical supply chain processes, including RFID receiving, picking with an intelligent forklift or a high-speed conveyor belt and shipping. The capabilities of the system will on display at International Paper’s Customer Solutions Center in Mephis, Tenn.

New Handheld Bluetooth RFID Reader

Cathexis Innovations, a St. John’s, Newfoundland-based provider of asset management technologies, and Baracoda, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based provider of Bluetooth wireless technology, have announced that they have developed what they say is the first handheld Bluetooth 13.56 MHz RFID reader, dubbed IDBlue. The reader is shaped like a pen and can communicate with a Bluetooth base station up to 15 meters (45 feet) away. It uses ISO 15693, ISO 14443-A and Texas Instruments Tag-It protocols to communicate with tags. The unit is available immediately and has a list price of $499.