RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Avery Dennison releases white paper on RFID isolating material performance; Syngenta orders 10,000 tags from CoreRFID; Blulog supports hospitals in battling COVID-19; Swittons, drug companies partner to combat coronavirus spread; Rohde & Schwarz, CommSolid By Goodix support wake-up signal test to improve power efficiency in NB-IoT devices; GlobalPlatform publishes new spec for Secure Element integration into IoT devices; SiFive intros trace-and-debug portfolio for IoT; Worldsensing, IDS GeoRadar launch IoT mining-monitoring system.

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Avery Dennison;
Syngenta, CoreRFID;
Blulog;
Swittons;
Rohde & Schwarz, CommSolid By Goodix;
GlobalPlatform;
SiFive;
Worldsensing, and IDS GeoRadar.

Avery Dennison Releases White Paper on RFID Isolating Material Performance

Avery Dennison Performance Tapes, which introduced its ShieldSense RFID Blocking Material in May 2019, has announce the release of a white paper that examines the use of RFID technology in inventory management. The document discusses the available isolating materials that can help maximize the technology's effectiveness.

The white paper, titled "Attenuation Performance of RFID Isolating Materials" and written by Brad Cumby, a senior RFID research engineer at Avery Dennison, explores the challenges that retailers face in using RFID signals to manage inventory levels. As these signals may penetrate most walls, floors and ceilings, accurate data gathering can be an issue for end users. Performance is subject to factors such as interference, frequencies, power and environments.

Avery's white paper examines the use of various aluminum-based shielding products, including foil tape, conductive paint, foil radiant barrier insulation and conductive cloth. In reviewing these products, the paper compares installation factors such as install time and effectiveness. It also provides recommendations for choosing a shielding product based on whether an application is a new construction or a retrofit, as well as ease of use and impact on total costs. Installation examples are provided.

"RFID technology has become a popular method of providing fast and accurate inventory not only in retail environments, but in virtually any inventory management application," Cumby said in a prepared statement. "This white paper was written to help current and potential RFID users understand how to maximize their RFID experience by shielding specific spaces, as well as making the most cost-effective, reliable shielding choice for their particular application."

The white paper may be downloaded for free at Avery Dennison's website.

Syngenta Orders 10,000 Tags from CoreRFID

Syngenta, a producer of agricultural chemicals, has ordered a new consignment of RFID tags to track ingredients at its Grangemouth plant, which have helped it to boost production. The company has ordered 10,000 tags from its supplier, CoreRFID, to replace tags that have been in regular use since the RFID tracking system was introduced in 2014.

The Grangemouth site employs more than 350 workers and produces the active ingredients used in its fertilizers and crop-protection products. The ingredients are put into bulk containers or bags, and are either shipped to production plants overseas or are moved to another plant on site and then used to make the finished products.

The use of RFID has allowed Syngenta to track the bags as they are moved around the site, and to gain better control over its entire production process. Every bag is fitted with a tag that can be scanned by fixed readers or by personnel with handheld scanners at critical points along the way. The system has replaced manual spreadsheets and allows the company to view the whereabouts of ingredients in real time. It has also enabled the firm to step up production and reduce the risk of error.

Paul Johnston, the Grangemouth plant's automation and information systems manager, said in a prepared statement that the system worked well from the start, and that the tags were being replaced due to wear and tear. "We are simply changing the tags for new ones," he explained. "RFID is super-reliable and doesn't really break down—either it works or it doesn't. Replacing spreadsheets and manual data entry has minimized mistakes and provided greater visibility; we can see where everything is and how much of it there is. A paper system is just not manageable on the scale that we manufacture and doesn't have benefit of ensuring 'right product, right place, right time'."

"RFID is a simple and very cost-effective way for manufacturers to keep track of materials or components and achieve better control of production," said Richard Harrison, CoreRFID's technical sales director, in the prepared statement. "It has certainly proved very effective for Syngenta. Six years on, no major changes have been required and, aside from replacing the original tags, the company remains happy with the system."

Blulog Supports Hospitals in Battling COVID-19

Blulog has announced that it will support hospitals by donating to interested institutions a set of devices for measuring temperature and humidity levels. The storage of medicines, vaccines and food items in proper conditions is vital to medical facilities, and Blulog's system is designed to automate measurements and save time, the company reports.

The firm decided to provide each hospital that contacts it with a set of one 2G hub and two temperature and humidity data loggers. Hospital representatives can report such a need by contacting Blulog directly and providing the name of their hospital and other important information about their facilities. Any hospitals interested in obtaining a free kit should send an email message to info@blulog.eu.

"As a technology-oriented company that helps maintain the highest quality in various sectors, including pharmaceutical and medical, we would like to support hospitals and other medical institutions in their fight against coronavirus," said Blolog's Daria Roszczyk-Krowicka in a prepared statement. "Let's save time for doctors and nurses by automating some procedures, especially now when every minute counts."

Blulog data loggers are used for monitoring the thermal conditions of food and medicines. The technology improves safety, saves time and boosts logistic operations, according to the company. Each data logger has a waterproof housing and can be positioned close to food so that it can collect data regarding temperature, humidity and other parameters.

Swittons, Drug Companies Partner to Combat Coronavirus Spread

New Jersey-based Swittons has announced that it is partnering with several pharmaceutical commercial organizations to help key healthcare practitioners maintain communication with the pharma sector during the current global pandemic and period of protective travel restrictions. Swittons' customizable smart devices are being offered to physicians for free, and the firm is also providing pharmaceutical commercial organizations with free devices during this crisis.

"Swittons is working to limit exposure risk to the coronavirus or other pandemics, by eliminating unnecessary visits to hospitals and other healthcare facilities," said Anupam Nandwana, Swittons' CEO and founder, in a prepared statement. "By automating the pharma-to-physician relationship, our goal is that professionals working in the field of pharmaceutical sciences will not be forced to risk their own health and will not become a serious risk factor for the spread of the virus."

The Swittons device enables physicians to request samples, schedule visits, book medical science liaison consultations and access important medical information. This remote communication helps to ensure the continuity of business, the company explains, and also protects pharmaceutical personnel from high-risk exposure and further propagation. This is important within critical therapeutic areas.

The smart devices can be preprogrammed with individualized functionality and come ready out of the box, according to Swittons. The system automatically connects through a Wi-Fi or GSM cellular connection (GSM service is provided by Swittons).

Rohde & Schwarz, CommSolid By Goodix Support Wake-Up Signal Test to Improve Power Efficiency in NB-IoT Devices

Rohde & Schwarz (R&S), a test and measurement equipment company, and CommSolid By Goodix, a cellular Internet of Things (IoT) company, have announced new test functions for NB-IoT wake-up signals, designed to reduce power consumption. For NB-IoT long-term monitoring applications, the companies report, the wake-up signal can be leveraged either to enable longer battery life without upgrading batteries, or as a way to reduce battery size while retaining a device's service life.

Rohde & Schwarz and CommSolid by Goodix have partnered to demonstrate the effectiveness of the 3GPP NB-IoT Release 15 feature wake-up signal in reducing the power consumption of NB-IoT devices. Test functions implemented on an R&S CMW290 Functional Radio Communication Tester are employed to outline the difference in power consumption for NB-IoT devices, with and without the wake-up signal technology.

Reducing the power consumption of NB-IoT devices is critical to increasing the duration of a device's reliable active life. 3GPP Release 15 introduces the wake-up signal, a special paging signal sent from an NB-IoT base station to specific NB-IoT devices, informing the devices to wake up the main receiver in preparation for receiving paging data. The main receiver only needs to wake up when it is informed; an NB-IoT device with the wake-up signal implemented remains in idle mode until told to decode the physical downlink control channel for a paging occasion.

Rohde & Schwarz's radio communication testers have implemented many new NB-IoT features introduced with 3GPP Releases 14 and 15. The company's CMW500 and CMW290 models include wake-up signal support, among other Release 15 features, along with recent firmware releases. "Lowest power consumption is one of the key drivers in NB-IoT driven applications," said Matthias Weiss, CommSolid's managing director, in a prepared statement. "Testing new 3GPP features early on allows our customers to leverage this advantage throughout their product design cycles."

"Rohde & Schwarz is committed to providing T&M support for NB-IoT functions that device manufacturers are planning to introduce with commercially viable products," added Anton Messmer, Rohde & Schwarz's VP of mobile radio testers, in the prepared statement. "We greatly appreciate cooperation with early adopters, to verify the validity of our implementation of 3GPP-specified functions."

GlobalPlatform Publishes New Spec for Secure Element Integration Into IoT Devices

GlobalPlatform, a provider of secure digital services and devices, has published a new specification intended to simply communication between embedded Secure Elements (eSEs) and connected devices. The specification supports the serial peripheral interfaces and inter-integrated circuits widely deployed in smartphones, wearables and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The standardization of communication between eSEs and devices brings interoperability and flexibility to device manufacturers, according to Gil Bernabeu, GlobalPlatform's technical director. "The growing use of embedded SEs is driving usage of physical interfaces such as SPI or I2C," Bernabeu said in a prepared statement. "The APDU Transport spec helps device manufacturers to configure the device's internal communication bus in advance, embed SEs into connected devices and optimize usage of their chosen protocols. This work will help to use eSE-powered secure services to create more secure devices across all sectors globally."

The specification allows the transfer of commands between the device and an eSE. This enables eSEs to offer additional uses cases to devices, the firm explains, such as device attestation, secure storage and biometrics matching. It also supports the updating of secure services at any point during a device's life cycle.

SiFive Intros Trace-and-Debug Portfolio for IoT

SiFive, a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions, has announced SiFive Insight, a technology portfolio designed to enable faster silicon bring-up, software and hardware integration, and application development through hardware tracing and debugging. SiFive Insight is a combined trace-and-debug solution for the freely available, open-specification RISC-V ISA. According to the company, this is especially useful for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry.

SiFive Insight allows developers, including those in the IoT sector, to gain greater visibility and control over their workflows and applications, the company reports. The system combines tracing and debugging capabilities to enable faster and easier product development. SiFive has invested heavily in SiFive Insight's trace capabilities to meet customer demand and expectations for the capability to access, observe and control products deploying SiFive's RISC-V Core IP portfolio, according to SiFive.

The system includes open-source contributions to develop the growing ecosystem of RISC-V developers, including a C++ cross-platform Nexus 5001 trace decoder for RISC-V. The Nexus 5001 trace specification is an open, well-documented standard that includes a portfolio of processor-trace and trace-related features. The SiFive Insight trace implementation is compliant with the proposed RISC-V Nexus Trace Working Group specification, currently under consideration.

SiFive Insight is available for all SiFive RISC-V Core IP product lines offered by SiFive Core Designer, a cloud-based tool for defining and customizing RISC-V processor cores. Toolsets from several application and embedded processor software-development companies support SiFive Insight, simplifying the adoption of SiFive processor IP and RISC-V application development.

Worldsensing, IDS GeoRadar Launch IoT Mining-Monitoring System

Worldsensing and IDS GeoRadar have launched a new mine safety monitoring system. The integrated solution will offer surface, sub-surface and geospatial monitoring in a single package, the companies report, thereby simplifying contracting and deployment. The technology will exploit the capabilities of Worldsensing's Loadsensing Internet of Things (IoT)-based wireless monitoring system to reduce the costs and delays associated with traditional wired or manually read sensor networks.

The joint solution is designed to simplify data management using HxGN GeoMonitoring Hub integrated visualization and analysis platform, delivered through IDS GeoRadar. The integration of the two firms' technologies is intended to provide mining companies with a single interface for a monitoring system that includes a range of wirelessly connected geotechnical and environmental sensors, in addition to radar, total stations, GNSS and satellite InSAR.

"As leaders in the IoT remote monitoring space, Worldsensing invests in making Loadsensing technology compatible not only with various sensors but also with third-party software, such as HxGN GeoMonitoring Hub by IDS GeoRadar," said Bernat Trias, Worldsensing's director of products, in a prepared statement. Alberto Bicci, IDS GeoRadar's president, added in the statement: "IDS GeoRadar is committed to helping customers put their data to work and we are delighted to present this software knowing that it will positively influence the mining world for years to come."

"Working with IDS GeoRadar, we see it as our mission to push for greater safety across the mining industry through the provision of global standards for integration and interoperability," said Steve Cahill, the chief operating officer at Worldsensing, in the prepared statement. "We look forward to announcing further partnerships in the near future."