RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

RFID tag maker Metalcraft achieves ISO 9001:2015 certification from Intertek ••• Utility Composites intros RFID tag for rough wooden surfaces ••• Senet adds network server enhancements for LoRaWAN IoT connectivity platforms ••• Kerlink, Sphinx partner to bring IoT solutions to European network integrators, resellers ••• Tageos unveils small apparel RFID tag ••• Industrial Internet Consortium announces smart printing factory testbed ••• Samsung, Cisco, Orange team up on smart-city applications in Romania ••• RFiD Discovery, Nordic ID offer new handheld reader for health care.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Metalcraft, Intertek;
Utility Composites;
Senet;
Kerlink, Sphinx;
Tageos;
the Industrial Internet Consortium;
Samsung, Cisco, Orange;
RFiD Discovery, and Nordic ID.

RFID Tag Maker Metalcraft Achieves ISO 9001:2015 Certification

Metalcraft has announced that it was recently presented with an ISO 9001:2015 certificate from Intertek. This, the company explains, affirms that it adheres to the internationally standard for quality management.

“Metalcraft has had a strong history of committing to our quality system and continuous improvement,” said Jim Miller, Metalcraft’s VP of engineering and quality, in a prepared statement. “When the new standard came out, we saw that as a better fit for us and a great opportunity to take our system to the next level… Our certification means we are taking a hard look at ourselves and working as a team to make improvements in all aspects of the business, so our customers can rely on a quality product every time.”

Utility Composites Intros RFID Tag for Rough Wooden Surfaces

Utility Composites, which manufactures and markets non-metal fasteners used in several markets, including timber and lumber, has unveiled its SUNDOG RFID tag. The timber industry has been poised to adopt UHF RFID technology for inventory management, but the use of standard RFID tags attached to logs traveling down the highway under extreme weather conditions was not feasible, the company reports. RFID tags tended to be expensive and time-consuming to screw into wood, according to the company, or the tags were too fragile to withstand the demanding conditions of the industry.

The SUNDOG RFID tag is in the form of a staple that is collated into a strip of staple tags, each containing a UHF RFID chip and antenna. They are collated in a strip for loading into a magazine of a manual or pneumatic stapler. The tags are rugged enough to withstand extreme variations in climate, the company reports, as well as kiln drying and vat cooking operations typical in timber and veneer processing, with no negative effect on the readability of the tag. Readability and range are maintained upon completion of these harsh processes.

According to the company, the tags have a strong read range and read angle. The antenna sticks out away from the surface, reducing reading problems, with high moisture content of freshly harvested logs. For handheld readings in the x, y and z direction, the range varies from 8 to 11.3 meters using a circular polarized interrogator antenna, and from 6 to 8.3 meters using a linear polarized interrogator antenna.

Currently, Utility Composites is sending sample quantities of tags for testing in applications for log tracking, lumber load tracking, utility pole tracking and railroad tie tracking for inventory management. The firm expects the tags to be in full production during the quarter of this year.

Senet Adds Network Server Enhancements for LoRaWAN IoT Connectivity Platforms

Senet, a provider of cloud-based software, global connectivity service platforms and network build-out for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced network server enhancements for its cloud-based LoRaWAN connectivity platforms. The new features simplify the deployment, management and monetization of LPWANs and applications—the fastest growing segment of the IoT market.

“Companies cannot afford to defer their IoT investment until 5G arrives or delay business growth opportunities based on the promise of NB-IoT or LTE Category M1 coverage at a future date to be determined,” said Bruce Chatterley, Senet’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “With these new platform enhancements and our partner-centric engagement models, we’ve effectively broken the mold for reliable, secure and cost-effective IoT connectivity and application deployment at massive scale.”

Additions to Senet’s already expansive global footprint, channel plan and gateway support include Australian and Latin American regional channel plans; EU and U.S. 16-channel plans; dynamic channel plan support for full control over an ISM-band; support for the Laird Sentrius gateway; and support for the Tektelic KONA 16 Macro and KONA 8 Indoor EU/India 868 gateways. Senet has also launched an updated coverage map illustrating its global service delivery footprint, with coverage and connectivity readiness in more than 80 countries.

New network operator features include customer onboarding and service provisioning capabilities to streamline the implementation and delivery of multi-tenant connectivity services; gateway provisioning and application monitoring capabilities for quality-of-service and end-customer application support; and network planning such as mapping service addresses related to device and gateway locations, gateway viewsheds and computed path quality of devices, to increase the accuracy and reliability of service delivery.

In addition, Senet has established a method for infrastructure providers to participate in the IoT marketplace through its Radio Access Network (RAN) Provider Services. Companies with physical assets, such as towers, rooftops, billboards, light poles and municipality-owned locations, can join the Senet LVN as a RAN Provider, deploy LoRaWAN gateways and immediately share in the revenue generated by all end devices connecting to their radio access network.

New RAN Provider features include a dedicated portal with access to a suite of RAN management and deployment capabilities; gateway usage statistics for accounting, capacity planning and utilization; and network planning such as mapping service addresses related to device and gateway locations, gateway viewsheds and computed path quality of devices, to increase the accuracy and reliability of service delivery.

New application provider features include enhanced network usage and management views, and detailed statistics to provide critical insight into application performance; support for application monitoring, troubleshooting and service alerts to enhance application performance and resulting business value; and customized interfaces and improved geolocation services that simplify the implementation of power-efficient, GPS-free location capabilities for asset-tracking applications.

Kerlink, Sphinx Partner to Bring IoT Solutions to European Network Integrators, Resellers

Kerlink, a provider of solutions dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), and Sphinx, which helps integrators, resellers and installers validate and deploy IoT and industrial-connectivity projects, have announced that Sphinx will include Kerlink’s LoRa technology and products in its suite of network solutions. With this distribution agreement, the companies will focus on smart-energy, smart-city and smart-industry vertical markets in France, Spain and Italy.

“Our new strategic partnership with Sphinx will allow Kerlink to further build on the momentum established in IoT projects supporting innovative applications in Southern Europe,” said Ermeline Lebon, Kerlink’s head of channel sales, in a prepared statement. “The company’s expertise across a range of key verticals and its strong relationships with system integrators and resellers will help accelerate adoption of Kerlink’s IoT network solutions for smart networks.”

“Sphinx is constantly developing its suite of solutions with the latest technologies that can assure reliability and durability in extreme environments, and that includes partnering with leading global brands,” said Hervé Mathé, Sphinx’s general manager, in the prepared statement. “Kerlink is a natural fit for us, because its IoT gateways are proven strong performers that meet the strictest standards in the energy, city or industry 4.0 markets.” This agreement supports Kerlink’s commitment to grow its value-added distributors network and accelerate market penetration of LoRaWAN technology for private networks.

Tageos Unveils Small Apparel RFID Tag

Tageos has announced the release of the new version of its small EOS-241 RFID tag based on NXP‘s Ucode 8 IC. Designed for tagging apparel and small items, the new EOS-241 U8 offers excellent performance in a compact form-factor. The inlay is approved by the University of Auburn’s RFID Lab in all FCC categories.

The EOS-241 U8 successfully completed product testing in the ARC program at the RFID Lab. The inlay passed all categories related to various use cases for RFID within retail environments in the FCC frequency range (Spec A, B, C, D, M, G, F, Q, and N), demonstrating a high capability to meet retailers’ and brand owners’ requirements.

With finished dimensions of 1.77 inches by 0.75inch (45 millimeters by 19 millimeters), the EOS-241 U8 inlay represents a perfect solution for tagging a large variety of items, particularly small fashion items with limited available labeling area. The tag is also easily embedded into most other tag sizes and formats (tickets, sew-in labels and so forth).

“We are proud to see our product EOS-241 U8 meets the performance requirements for all ARC categories related to the FCC frequency range,” says Matthieu Picon, Tageos’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “It is good news for retailers and suppliers of the US market looking for a unique solution to label variety of product types.” The EOS-241 U8 is available immediately as a paper sticker or a wet inlay.

Industrial Internet Consortium Announces Smart Printing Factory Testbed

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), an organization focused on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has announced the Smart Printing Factory Testbed. Led by Fujifilm and supported by IIC members Fujitsu, IBM, RTI and Toshiba, the testbed automates print production and predictive maintenance for factory-based printing equipment.

The Smart Printing Factory Platform collects job status, machine condition and production-quality data for factory-based printing equipment using integrated sensors. It then delivers optimized production and predictive maintenance plans. Users can monitor and control printing equipment through a secure IT/OT management console. For legacy printing facilities without digital devices, sensors can be attached to send, store and analyze data.

“As in other manufacturing industries, the printing industry is required to respond to mass customization and must improve processes in order to stay competitive. However, replacing a legacy printing system with a fully automated one is not easy because companies use equipment from various manufacturers,” said Izumi Watanabe, Fujifilm’s IIoT team leader, in a prepared statement. “An open ecosystem is the best way to connect equipment from many manufacturers. An open ecosystem will also allow factory operators to analyze data and integrate new printing developments more easily. We look forward to working with IIC member companies to make improvements on printing industry processes and technologies.”

“The Smart Printing Factory Testbed is a perfect example of an IIoT application that will help improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of an industrial application through IoT-based automation,” said Richard Soley, IIC’s executive director, in the prepared statement. “We’re excited that IIC members are working on a cutting-edge problem like smart printing for factories.”

Fujifilm hosts the Smart Printing Factory Testbed at its site. Supporting IIC members provide enabling technologies for data acquisition, management console, production planning, design implementation and security. IIC testbeds are where the innovation and opportunities of the Industrial Internet—new technologies, applications, products, services and processes—can be initiated, thought through and rigorously tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before coming to market.

Samsung, Cisco, Orange Team Up on Smart-City Applications in Romania

Samsung Electronics and Cisco have announced that they have successfully completed a trial and series of 5G demonstrations with Orange in Floresti, Cluj, Romania. Since the announcement in February by the three companies of the first multi-vendor 5G fixed wireless trial in Europe, the trial has been running for a month and a half across multiple homes. The trial makes use of Samsung’s 5G solutions, including the virtualized RAN, one of the smallest 5G access units and multiple indoor and outdoor 5G routers, as well as Cisco’s Meraki Z3 Wi-Fi Router and Ultra Gateway Platform, which delivers a 5G virtual packet core on top of Cisco NFV Infrastructure that brings enhanced throughput and flexibility.

By leveraging the wide bandwidth available at 26 GHz and advanced antenna technologies, such as massive MIMO and beamforming, the companies were able to achieve coverage beyond 1 km at 1 Gbps for a single user in real live conditions. Measurements in these conditions also show aggregated cell downlink throughputs of 3 Gbps with few users, the company reports, though the system capacity is significantly higher.

Samsung, Cisco and Orange held a demonstration this month near Floresti City Hall to present the results of the trial and showcase some of the most promising 5G-powered smart-city and home-entertainment solutions in front of media and partners from across the industry. Samsung’s Connectivity Node is installed on a streetlamp to provide wireless connectivity for temperature and humidity sensors and security cameras. Sensors and cameras are connected wirelessly to the node, which is then connected to the core network via 5G.

Several parallel UHD videos and VR sessions were streamed simultaneously over the same 5G broadband connection. All of the content was transmitted via the 5G core and 5G radio link. The 5G system capacity was crucial to this demonstration, the firm explains, as it not only allowed simultaneous UHD streaming over multiple screens under one roof, but also provided extra capacity in case content consumption further increases. In another demonstration, two players competed against each other in a live cloud video game over the 5G network.

RFiD Discovery, Nordic ID Offer New Handheld Reader for Health Care

RFiD Discovery has partnered with Nordic ID to add a new handheld RFID reader to its portfolio of RFID tracking solutions for the health-care industry. The Nordic ID Medea UHF RFID Adaptive Cross Dipole offers a read range of up to 8 meters for passive UHF RFID tags and is capable of detecting active tags and reading bar codes. With a battery capacity of 7000 mAh, it provides up to 16 hours of use, the company reports.

Users can select from different read modes. The proximity mode enables users to locate a specific tag to within 1 centimeter, by displaying on screen whether the reader is getting closer or further away from the target. The cross-dipole mode provides a long read range, while the circular mode allows for fast inventory counts.

A 4.3-inch touchscreen and pistol grip with trigger button provide ergonomics and quick operation, the company reports, while its dust- and splash-proof design prevents damage to the reader and improves longevity. Users can detect active tags via a Bluetooth connection to a mobile active reader, and the device can also read bar codes, making it suitable for asset-management applications.

By tracking devices such as infusion pumps, syringe drivers, feeding devices, scanners, monitors, mattresses and beds, the system helps hospitals cut capital expenditures by improving utilization levels and reducing the need to purchase additional equipment. The device is also designed to reduce the amount of time workers spend looking for misplaced equipment.

“Feedback from our existing healthcare users highlighted the need for a powerful device with high read range and performance together with the ability to detect passive as well as active RFID tags,” said Rob Tear, RFiD Discovery’s business unit director for healthcare, in a prepared statement. “The launch of this reader forms part of our continued commitment to provide market leading systems, which fulfil customer requirements.”