RFID News Roundup

By Admin

Dundee Precious Metals tracks safety with Wi-Fi RFID; Zebra Technologies, IBS team up on RFID-enabled safety and logistics planning; TagMaster announces major port installation in the Persian Gulf; Omni-ID secures $8 million in additional funding and announces new CEO, partner; Google Wallet rollouts begin.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Dundee Precious Metals Tracks Safety With Wi-Fi RFID

AeroScout has announced that Dundee Precious Metals Inc. (DPM), an international mining company based in Canada, has implemented AeroScout's Wi-Fi RFID mining solution for tracking personnel, equipment and vehicles. According to AeroScout, DPM is currently using the solution to improve worker safety and productivity at its Chelopech Mine, in Bulgaria, both on the surface and belowground. Wi-Fi is a strategic technology for the mining company, AeroScout reports, and is being used to support emerging business requirements and maximize efficiency across the organization. AeroScout's Wi-Fi-based active RFID system for mines leverages DPM's above-ground and underground Wi-Fi networks to monitor the locations of equipment and individuals throughout the mine's tunnels and facilities. Several other mining companies have deployed AeroScout's solution as well, including Newmont's Leeville gold mine, one of Nevada's largest gold-mining operations (see RFID Is Golden to Nevada Mine) and international mining group Xstrata, at its Beltana Coal Mine in New South Wales, Australia (see Xstrata Mines RFID's Benefits). AeroScout's Wi-Fi tags, worn by miners or mounted on vehicles and equipment, transmit their unique ID numbers to the mine's standard Wi-Fi nodes. AeroScout's MobileView software uses that data to provide a real-time visual representation of the locations of miners and assets. MobileView enables DPM to track and manage items and personnel through an easy-to-use interface, AeroScout reports, as well as a variety of reports and rules-based alerts. To date, the firm has deployed more than 1,000 AeroScout Tags to track personnel and monitor vehicle locations, which helps to decrease equipment downtime and utilize resources more efficiently. The system automates the tracking of all workers, who must vacate the mine once daily for the purpose of production blasting and the clearing of explosive gases. Prior to implementing AeroScout's solution, the company tracked employees by noting who had turned in their cap lamps at the end of each shift. The system also automates the tracking of machinery traffic driven by workers underground. In the past, employees utilized a radio checkpoint system to relay their location. Now, DPM has visibility into where its machinery is located, thereby helping the control room more effectively direct traffic, quickly identify problems and rapidly respond in the event of emergencies.

Zebra Technologies, IBS Team Up on RFID-enabled Safety and Logistics Planning

RFID vendor Zebra Technologies has partnered with IBS Software Services, a provider of IT solutions for the travel, transportation and logistics industries, to provide the oil and gas industry with an end-to-end solution for the real-time tracking and management of personnel and logistics. As a result, the two companies reports, customers will be able to secure the real-time location of personnel, automate process counts, and improve speed and accuracy in muster or evacuation events. The solution integrates Zebra's real-time personnel-tracking solution, known as the Personnel Safety Solution (PSS), into IBS' iLogistics PoB (Persons On Board) application. PSS leverages Zebra's ATEX-certified ultra-wideband (UWB) active RFID tags and new UWB Vision presence reader. ATEX is part of an EU directive describing the equipment and work environment allowed in a setting containing an explosive atmosphere. The ILogistics PoB app controls planning and scheduling, and also tracks the deployment of personnel for the upstream oil and gas industry. It serves as the personnel control center of the iLogistics suite, designed to enable supervisors to allocate, schedule, train, validate, optimize and track personnel, as well as manage platforms and emergencies. Combined with Zebra's real-time location of all personnel, this process is now automated, eliminating the need for manual inputs. Some key benefits include improved real-time traceability of the actual locations of personnel across platforms, camps and transport resources; validation of safety certifications and training, to ensure that the right people come on board; easier management of complicated journey plans, as well as visa and passport validations; reduced manual intervention in accommodation management; increased safety of on-board personnel; compliance with health, safety and environmental (HSE) regulations through the PoB module; and automated counts for muster and evacuations off platforms. The location data collected by the UWB tags is passed through Zebra's PSS application, and is then pushed into iLogistics' PoB application in real time, according to Peter Ward, the sales director of EMEA process industries for Zebra's Location Solutions division. "All real-time information thus obtained is used in iLogistics," Ward says, "to ensure compliance, optimize various allocations, and prepare logistics plans for emergency evacuations." This improved personnel visibility and management can equate to reduced non-compliance fines, increased safety, better incident reporting, and faster evacuation management, the companies note, as well as a significant reduction in incident reconstruction and reporting costs. IBS and Zebra are already providing oil and gas customers with the integrated PSS and iLogistics solution. The two firms have conducted a number of proof-of-concept deployments within that industry, he says, adding that IBS' iLogistics application is widely used by the industry, and that customers include three of the top oil and gas companies, with worldwide deployments.

TagMaster Announces Major Port Installation in the Persian Gulf

TagMaster, a Swedish manufacturer of RFID solutions for rail and transportation applications, has announced that its long-time partner, Omnitec Security Systems—a Dubai-based provider of products and services in security, parking management, traffic controls, high-speed doors and gate automation solutions—has been awarded the contract to supply TagMaster's new XT-3 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader and RFID tags in a major port installation in the Persian Gulf. TagMaster is not at liberty to disclose the identity of the port at this time, says Bo Tiderman, the company's CEO. The XT-3 reader is an EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C compliant reader with a built-in antenna primarily intended for individual and vehicle access-control applications, such as parking-garage access, for which long-range identification, combined with high-speed RFID tag reading, may be required. The contract covers the supply of 154 TagMaster XT-3 readers, which will be used in the port's vehicle access-control system. The XT-3 is equipped with a configurable LED indicator at the front of the reader, as well as on the front of an optional external antenna. The reader is easy to access and configure via a password using a standard Web browser, the company reports, and is also easy to install, with support for mounting brackets. It supports TagMaster's SecureMarkID, which Tiderman says is an encryption protection that the company has introduced for the RFID tags. "The tags to be used are EPC Gen 2 ID tags, which are standardized products that can be bought from many sources," he states. "This means that there is a risk that somebody could copy the identity of a tag and use this for illegal access. To avoid this, TagMaster has introduced SecureMarkID." SecureMarkID, a unique coding method to prevent the cloning of tags, protects the information stored on the tags and ensures that it can not be accidentally overwritten.

Omni-ID Secures $8 Million in Additional Funding and Announces New CEO, Partner

Omni-ID, a supplier of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, has announced that it has secured almost $8 million in additional funding. The investment capital will be used primarily to expand the company's growing portfolio of industry-specific solutions, including new product and sales channel development, though the firm declines to comment further at this time. Omni-ID has also announced its recent appointment of technology industry veteran George E. Daddis Jr. as its president and CEO. Prior to joining Omni-ID, Daddis served as the CEO of WorldGate Communications, a publicly held video telephony firm in Philadelphia. Daddis started several companies, including InSciTek Microsystems Inc., which provided digital hardware and software design services. In addition, Omni-ID has unveiled a new reseller partnership with Yeon Technologies, a provider of RFID consulting and deployments services in Asia. The agreement, the company reports, will expand Yeon's portfolio of available passive RFID solutions for harsh environments, and for areas where long-read ranges are required. In a press release, Roger Tsu, Yeon Technologies' president, cited durability and long read ranges as key attributes of Omni-ID's tags that made the company's product line attractive to his firm.

Google Wallet Rollouts Begin

Google has released the first version of its Google Wallet application to Sprint. Announced in May 2011, the mobile-payment application, based on Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology, will enable consumers to pay for goods and redeem coupons simply by touching or waving their NFC-enabled mobile phones near a receiver (see RFID News Roundup: Google Unveils NFC-based Mobile-Payments Service). According to Osama Bedier, Google's VP of payments, his company has been testing the app extensively. As expected, he says, the app is first being made available to current users of Google's Nexus S 4G, through Sprint. According to Bedier, the rollout is being conducted as an over-the-air update, and will show up on the phones as the Wallet app. NXP Semiconductors is providing the NFC solution used in Nexus S 4G for the Google Wallet, leveraging NXP's PN65 NFC mobile-transaction solution that integrates an NFC radio controller, the embedded secure element and NFC software into a single device. Also as expected, Google Wallet will support both a Citi MasterCard credit card and a Google Prepaid Card, which can be funded with any plastic credit cards. The wallet currently works with MasterCard's PayPass technology, which leverages passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags and readers complying with the ISO 14443 standard. Visa, Discover and American Express have also made available their NFC specifications—a move that will enable their cards to be added to future versions of Google Wallet, Bedier wrote in a Google blog. As a thank-you to early adopters, he added, "we're adding a $10 free bonus to the Google Prepaid Card if you set it up in Google Wallet before the end of the year."