RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Siemens unveils new UHF RFID reader with IoT interface ••• Lowe Rental, CoreRFID offer refrigerator-monitoring solution ••• Haydale Technologies, Star RFID partner to develop graphene inks for RFID ••• BCC Research market report shows strong RFID growth ••• iDTronic intros reader-writer for Industrial IoT ••• Cocoon In The Park festival boosts revenues with RFID cashless payments ••• C3 offers new platform for rapid AI deployment.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Siemens;
Lowe Rental, CoreRFID;
Haydale Technologies, Star RFID;
BCC Research;
iDTronic;
Cocoon In The Park; and
C3.

Siemens Unveils New UHF RFID Reader With IoT Interface

Siemens is extending its range of Simatic RF600 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) devices to include an RFID reader. The Simatic RF615R measures 133 millimeters by 155 millimeters by 45 millimeters, and comes with an internal, circularly polarized antenna and an additional external antenna connection. Using the connection for the additional external antenna, it is possible to set up a small-scale RFID gate.

The device supports OPC UA as an Internet of Things (IoT) interface and communicates via the OPC UA AutoID Companion Specification V1.0 data model. This permits vendor-independent communication within the automation and a standardized connection to cloud applications such as the open cloud-based IoT operating system MindSphere, via an industrial IoT gateway such as Ruggedcom RX1400 with CloudConnect. Analysis of gathered data provides transparency for KPIs such as plant availability, utilization of assets or energy-saving potential.

With its circularly polarized antenna, the reader offers flexibility in the placement of RFID transponders to be captured. With both a digital input and a digital output, the RF615R offers a trigger option for distributed read points, as well as local response to reading events. Access to configuration, commissioning and diagnostic tools takes place in the customary way via a Web browser. Other functions include in-process diagnosis and the diagnostic history in the logbook.

The reader is suitable for use in mechanical and plant engineering, the company reports, as well as with conveyor technology. Due to its protection rating of IP67, the RF615R can be used in harsh industrial environments.

Lowe Rental, CoreRFID Offer Refrigerator-Monitoring Solution

Lowe Rental, working with specialist consultancy CoreRFID, is rolling out a tracking system for its depots in Las Vegas, Nevada and Fairburn, near Atlanta, Georgia. The supplier of rented fridges, freezers and catering equipment plants to extend its use of RFID tracking to its U.S. operations.

The decision, according to the company, follows a deployment of RFID technology at Lowe’s headquarters in Northern Ireland and its operations in England, Scotland and Germany, during a period of two years. In September 2018, Lowe Rental began to further extend the RFID system’s use to its depots in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai.

The RFID system has saved weeks of staff time and resulted in an almost 100 percent accuracy rate, the company reports. Previously, each item entering or leaving the warehouse was identified via a six-digit code, which had to be manually recorded by workers using a paper-based system. Now, the codes have been replaced by RFID tags, which are detected automatically by RFID readers located at the exits, and the information is then downloaded to the database.

The new system enables instantaneous reporting and audits, which took one week to complete under the old manual system. They can now be completed in less than half a day, using a mobile phone reader app which can monitor the tags from up to 2 meters away. Lowe rents out more than 10,000 items worldwide, including fridges, freezers, catering equipment and temporary kitchens, and it also supplies high-profile events from horse racing at Royal Ascot to the Singapore Grand Prix.

“CoreRFID’s system has transformed our operation,” said Ian Lowry, the firm’s director of European operations, in a prepared statement. “By automating the whole tracking process, it has allowed us to save time and achieve near perfect accuracy levels. The solution works well in tandem with our existing systems. It’s a natural progression to roll out the system to our U.S. operations after the massively positive impact it has had in Europe and the potential to make a great difference to our efficiency in Asia.”

Munzi Ali, CoreRFID’s technical director, added in the prepared statement, “With over 20,000 items which are constantly on the move, Lowe’s operations rely on a fast and accurate tracking system. RFID technology fits the bill perfectly and offers huge potential to improve efficiency. The technology is also quick and easy to install and offers rapid return on investment.”

CoreRFID develops and supplies RFID solutions for IT asset management, equipment tracking, health and safety and production management purposes. Since forming in 2007, it has built a diverse global client base of more than 1,000 companies globally, including the London Underground, ICL and BAE Systems.

Haydale Technologies, Star RFID Partner to Develop Graphene Inks for RFID

Haydale Technologies has announced the signing of a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) between Haydale and Star RFID. Haydale is a global technologies and materials group that facilitates the integration of graphene and other nanomaterials into commercial technologies and industrial materials. With expertise in graphene, silicon carbide and other nanomaterials, Haydale offers solutions for electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. The firm has granted patents for its technologies in Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan and China, and operates from six sites throughout the United Kingdom, the United States and the Far East.

The JDA is for the parties to co-develop graphene- and silver-based inks for the printed RFID market. This co-development is expected to lead to a supply and collaboration agreement during the coming months. The parties have already commenced development of a dedicated silver ink for Star RFID, and have a small paid-for project to carry out this work. Star RFID has first right of refusal for any products arising from the JDA.

“Since HTT, our Thai facility, officially opened in March 2017, we have secured a number of paid-for projects that have developed into longer term and closer working relationships with some of Thailand’s high profile companies,” said David Banks, Haydale’s executive chairman, in a prepared statement. “Star RFID is no exception and we look forward to further developments in 2019.”

Apiwat Thongprasert, Star RFID’s managing director, added in the prepared statement, “We are really excited to work with Haydale and use their speciality graphene and silver inks. We see a strong commercial arrangement as key to sales success together with a highly consistent product. Something we already know that Haydale can provide.”

BCC Research Market Report Shows Strong RFID Growth

The United States and Canada are the early adopters of RFID technology in the retail and logistics industries, which is expected to reach $13.5 billion by 2023, according to BCC Research‘s latest report, titled “RFID: Technologies, Applications and North American Markets.” The North American market for RFID technologies will grow from nearly $7.2 billion in 2018 to $13.5 billion by 2023, the report indicates, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent for the period of 2018 to 2023.

This report addresses the need for an objective, quantitative analysis covering emerging RFID technologies in the context of the North American RFID market. The report provides a snapshot of the market and the share of principal applications and end-use industries that constitute it. It also provides an overview of RFID technologies (tags, printer-encoders and software).

For this report, the North American RFID market is segmented by application into identification and security, electronic payments, material handling and logistics, asset tracking, military applications and other applications. The report also reviews the North American RFID market for key end-use industries, such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, health care, transportation and logistics, retail and personal services, government and military, and consumers.

Highlights include an overview of the North American RFID technology market; a comparison of the characteristics of RFID and bar-code technologies; a description of RFID technologies, such as tags, printer-encoders and software; an evaluation of the application of RFID technologies in identification, security, e-payments, material handling, logistics, asset tracking and the military; and a detailed profile of major companies in the industry.

Prominent players identified in the report include Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, Allflex USA, Applied Wireless Identifications Group (AWID), Ascendent ID, Avante International Technology, Biomark, CenTraK RTLS (Awarepoint Corp.), Datalogic, Datamars, Globeranger Corp. (a Fujitsu company), Honeywell Scanning & Mobility, I.D. Systems, IER Inc., Information Mediary Corp., Active Networks (IPICO), NXP Semiconductors, PolyIC GmbH, Sony Corp., Texas Instruments, SensorMatic (TYCO) and Zebra Technologies.

iDTronic Intros Reader-Writer for Industrial IoT

The Bluebox Micro IA UHF is a new reading and writing device in iDTronic‘s Bluebox line, and is designed for Industry 4.0 and IoT applications requiring intelligent solutions and easy integration. The compact and small shape design (12.0 centimeters by 12.2 centimeters by 3.7 centimeters), the company reports, is suitable for industrial applications in logistics, robotics and assembly line production.

The reader comes with an RS-232 COM interface. This serial port is suitable for connection to monitors, point-of-sale terminals, measuring instruments and printers. Furthermore, the device is equipped with an RS-485 interface. The asynchronous serial connection is suitable for data communication over long distances. It is a bidirectional bus system that can be operated with up to 128 devices on a single bus.

The reader is equipped with an industrial M12 connector and has a power supply of 10 to 36 volts. The output line is up to 27 dBm / 500 mW. The power can be regulated from 10 dBm in 1-dBm steps. The reader is intended for automation processes within various applications.

The Bluebox Micro IA UHF is equipped with an internal antenna, enabling the reader to achieve a reading range of up to 3 meters. The reader operates in the UHF frequency range (865 to 868 MHz). Optionally, the reader can also operate at the UHF frequency of 902 to 928 MHz. Both frequencies support the ISO 18000-6C standard (EPC Class 1 Gen 2), using Alien Higgs 2/3/4, Impinj Monza, NXP UCODE and many other tag types.

The Bluebox Micro IA UHF is suitable for Industrial 4.0 automation processes in automotive production, the company reports. With IP65 protection, the reader can withstand temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius. The reader can be mounted via prefabricated drill holes, even outside the production line. With its 3-meter reading range, parts can be assigned contact-free within the chassis production up to the exterior equipment.

Cocoon In The Park Festival Boosts Revenues With RFID Cashless Payments

This past July, the Cocoon In The Park festival reports that it recorded a 39 percent increase in revenues, two years after switching to RFID cashless payments with Event Genius Pay. Such growth, calculated by using data from the festival’s last non-cashless, token-based event in 2016, was achieved after organizers implemented a series of recommendations provided by Event Genius, which had analyzed data from the festival’s cashless debut in 2017.

“Last year, we decided to go cashless and saw the benefits of Event Genius Pay—for fans and ourselves—immediately,” said Shane Graham, Cocoon In The Park’s founder and owner, in a prepared statement. “This year, by using the lessons learned from the data insights provided by the system, we were confident we could improve further.”

The cashless point-of-sale system processed its four millionth payment transaction this summer, according to the company. In advance of Cocoon In The Park, ticket holders were offered the chance to plan their budgets by pre-purchasing credit—to be spent on food, beverages and merchandise—directly from the festival’s website. On the day itself, fans then exchanged their entry tickets for a wristband equipped with a small RFID chip and had their pre-purchased credits loaded by workers. Customers could spend their money by tapping their wristband at any of the POS devices at the festival’s bars and vendors.

“It’s so easy for fans to get used to,” said Chris Toich, the founder of Outback Events, which provides event production and bar operator services at Cocoon In The Park, “once they’ve bought their first drink holding out your wrist to pay becomes second nature and queues move quickly. There’s no fumbling around for change, waiting for a card machine to connect and fewer errors.”

C3 Offers New Platform for Rapid AI Deployment

C3 has announced the general availability of Version 7.8 of its C3 Platform, an artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) software platform for digital transformation. C3 V7.8 delivers many improvements for developers, data scientists and end users, the company reports, as well as a new C3 Integrated Development Studio (C3 IDS), enhanced security, improved performance and scalability, new model management capabilities, machine-learning pipelines, local Docker development environments and new features across the suite of SaaS C3 Applications. C3 V7.8 is available immediately and has been delivered and installed in production use at 20 enterprise customers.

The performance and productivity improvements, the company reports, reduce organizational IT expenditures and accelerate AI-based digital transformation efforts by an order of magnitude. C3 V7.8 provides new model management capabilities to configure and deploy scalable models, performance improvements due to incremental data normalization, down-sampling of high-frequency time-series data, normalization and evaluation of time-series data at 1-second intervals and query-time normalization.

In addition, new virtual data lake support enables organizations to use the C3 Platform to connect to multiple, existing local data stores (SAP Hana, AWS S3, Azure Blob, Apache HDFS, Apache Hbase, Oracle Database, Postgres, Cassandra, AWS DynamoDB, SQL Server and MongoDB), while providing developers and data scientists with a virtual unified data access layer. C3 V7.8 continues investments in Kubernetes/Docker-based deployments across cloud providers and enables more than 40 new multi-cloud services as pre-built types in the C3 Platform (Azure Event Hub, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Active Directory, Azure SQL Server, Azure Blob, Store, Amazon ECS and Amazon SQS).

“With Version 7.8 of the C3 Platform, C3 continues to lead in delivering a cohesive AI development platform resulting in 10-100x faster development of AI-based applications compared to building it yourself with cloud microservices. Digital transformation has become a strategic necessity for today’s enterprises,” said Ed Abbo, C3’s president and CTO, in a prepared statement. “C3 V7.8 supports the requirements of global enterprises that are ramping up significant development teams on the C3 Platform to redefine their business processes with predictive and prescriptive analytics.”

“With C3 V7.8,” added Dan Jeavons, the general manager of data science at Royal Dutch Shell, in the prepared statement, “we were able to develop, deploy, and manage nearly 1 million models in our development environment and over 200 terabytes of data. We are now in the process of moving this to production to tackle some of our most challenging AI cases.”