RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

Secure Strap to protect shipments; 2005 DOD RFID Summit announced; International Paper helping vendors comply; TEC offers smart label printers; RFID test center opens in Wisconsin; SCM supplying readers for government agencies.

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

Secure Strap to Protect Shipments

Avery Dennison, an RFID label manufacturer based in Pasadena, Calif., and RF Code, a Mesa, Ariz.-based RFID software and hardware company, have codeveloped the Secure Strap security monitoring and electronic seal technology to provide tamper monitoring of shipments for groups such as the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and others requiring freight security. The technology, demonstrated this week at the National Cargo Security Council's conference in Long Beach, Calif., and at Forrester's seventh annual Emerging Technology Showcase in Scottsdale, Ariz., combines RF Code's TAVIS data management platform and Avery Dennison's tamper sensor. The Secure Strap consists of an active RFID locating device, transmitting in real-time, attached to a fiber-optic tamper sensor cable. If the cable is disturbed, Secure Strap sends a radio distress signal indicating its identification code. The Secure Strap tags are also used to track the shipments to which they are attached and can be reused through an encrypted reset key. Avery Dennison is currently using the Smart Strap tag system in a pilot program, TSA's Operation Safe Commerce, to monitor container shipments on ocean vessels. Smart Strap will be available in early 2005. No pricing information was released.

2005 DOD RFID Summit Announced

The 2005 DOD RFID Summit for Industry will take place Feb. 9-10, 2005, at the Hilton Washington, in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Defense's Logistics Automated Identification Technology (AIT) Office and the assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for supply chain integration will host the event. The summit will provide direction and information on the scheduled implementation timeline of the DOD's RFID mandate and requirements for suppliers, based on procurement methods, classes/commodities, location and layers of packaging; technical details on RFID technology compliance; and a Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFAR) update. Anyone interested in the DOD RFID policy may attend; suppliers being mandated to begin using RFID in shipments in 2005 are especially encouraged. More than 50 companies will be exhibiting. The registration fee is $300 before Dec. 31, $350 between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, or $400 Feb. 1 or later. For more information, visit www.dodrfidsummit.com.

International Paper Helping Vendors Comply

Paper and packaging company International Paper is offering a service to help companies meet RFID mandates being enacted by Wal-Mart, other retailers and the Department of Defense. Called Core Compliance, it includes six offerings ranging from help with simple slap-and-ship approaches to assistance with fully integrated RFID tagging that works with legacy systems and includes enterprise control over product serialization, or EPC numbering, to avoid serial duplication within an existing network. No hardware or software products are included with the solutions, though International Paper says it has relationships with a number of RFID product providers, including Alien, Matrics and Printronix. The offerings include initial assessments of customer's operations and compliance requirements, followed by recommendations of appropriate levels of RFID integration based on the customer's needs. International Paper tests its RFID solution systems at its Solution Center in Memphis, Tenn., which include a 600-foot-per-minute conveyor and dock portals that simulate the distribution centers of major retailers. The offerings are available now; the company did not release pricing information.

TEC Offers Smart Label Printers

Atlanta-based TEC America, the North American sales subsidiary of Toshiba TEC, announced the immediate availability of two thermal printers, B-SX4, which prints 4-inch labels, and B-SX5, which prints 5-inch labels, that encode, verify and print UHF smart labels. The new printers come with an AWID print engine (but can be fitted with print engines from other manufacturers) and support EPC UHF Class 1 (and will support the pending Class 1 Gen 2) labels. In order to protect the label's microchip from impact or pressure damage, the units' print head is raised above the chip (the printer does this by referring to the label design, established through a third-party label design software). If either printer model detects a label with a nonfunctioning RFID inlay, it prints horizontal stripes across that label. The printers do not apply the labels, but can be used in combination with some commercial applicators. Pricing information was not released.

RFID Test Center Opens in Wisconsin

Catalyst International, a provider of supply chain execution solutions based in Milwaukee, and Babush Material Handling Systems, an integrator of material handling equipment and control systems based in Sussex, Wis., have opened the Star Alliance Center, a facility for evaluating RFID solutions in a real-world environment. The 3,200-square-foot center is designed to help companies comply with RFID tagging mandates from retailers and the Department of Defense, and achieve customer service and operational efficiency through the use of RFID. The facility, which is in Sussex, has a simulated end-to-end product processing system that lets companies test and assess how various RFID solutions will interact with supply chain/ERP software, material-handling equipment and control technology. Products move from packaging and RFID tagging to label printing and palletization at run rates of up to 600 feet per minute. Datamax, SAMSys, Sato America, 3M/Combi and Zebra Technologies have provided hardware and software to the center.

SCM Supplying Readers for Government Agencies

SCM Microsystems, a Fremont, Calif.-based maker of smart card readers, will over the next year provide tens of thousands of its USB, PCMCIA and keyboard smart card readers to Idaho-based PC manufacturer MPC, a technology supplier to the U.S. government. The readers could be used as an external option on MPC's ClientPro 365, 565 and 414 computers to authenticate users to access critical information in U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) programs. The GSA has promoted the adoption of smart card technology across the government and the issuing of a standardized smart card to all federal employees. The readers being supplied to MPC are all based on SCM's STC II controller chip for smart card and biometric readers that supports multiple interfaces, reader devices and security standards. The STC II chip includes onboard flash for firmware and application enhancements.

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