Top 10 Stories of 2014

By Mark Roberti

It's been an eventful year. Here's a look back at some of the biggest stories we covered.

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RFID Brings Greater Efficiency, Product Visibility to Interstate Batteries
Replacement automotive-battery supplier Interstate Batteries announced it is in the middle of a “validation phase” of a pilot project to evaluate an RFID solution it developed with Minnesota-based technology firm Seeonic. The project, which began in November 2013, involves the deployment of 2 million RFID-tagged batteries, 2,200 RFID-enabled storage racks and 29 RFID-enabled trucks. The goal is to facilitate replenishment by letting the company know the product inventory at each dealership or store, as well as what is in transit in the delivery trucks at any given time.

NXP Seeks to Drive NFC Phone App Use in Cars
With many experts predicting cars will be a huge part of the Internet of Things, NXP Semiconductors took a step toward enabling “connected car” applications by using Near-Field Communication technology to integrate a driver’s mobile phone with a vehicle’s operation. The company launched a new automotive portfolio, beginning with its NCF3340 NFC controller. The NCF3340, which consists of a high-frequency RFID reader chip that interfaces with a vehicle’s controls and other electronic components, meets the Automotive Electronics Council’s Q100 Grade 3 requirements for operation across a car’s full temperature range.

RFID-Reading Drone Tracks Structural Steel Products in Storage
While not one of the largest RFID deployments, even within the steel industry, Age Steel’s use of an RFID reader mounted on a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly called a drone, took the technology to new heights. The Steel Yard Autonomous Tracking solution, provided by UAE technology services startup Exponent Technology Services, enables Age Steel to quickly and accurately track the locations of pipes, plates and other metal products stored onsite.

Inditex CEO Announces RFID Expansion Plans
At Inditex’s Annual General Meeting, Pablo Isla, the chairman and CEO of the Spain-based multinational clothing retailer, unveiled his company’s ambitious expansion RFID plans. One of the world’s largest fashion groups, Inditex operates more than 6,300 stores worldwide, and its brands include Zara (its biggest division). The group owns the majority of its stores, and designs and manufactures almost all its clothing.

International RFID Institute to Deliver Certification Exam at RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2014
The International RFID Institute, a not-for-profit organization founded to promote professionalism in the RFID industry through standardized certification examinations, held an RFID Certified Associates exam in London on Oct. 23, in conjunction with RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2014. The exam will replace CompTIA RFID+, which was discontinued, and help ensure that companies hire knowledgeable RFID professionals.

Macy’s Expands RFID and Beacon Deployments
The retailer has begun tagging fashion garments at its Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, to help make sure the merchandise is on the sales floor and to reduce the need for markdowns. Macy’s also indicated that RFID-enabled departments saw a 10 percent increase in year-over-year sales, when compared with year-over-year sales in departments that have not yet been RFID-enabled.

MagicBands Bring Convenience, New Services to Walt Disney World
This spring in Orlando, Fla., Walt Disney World began providing a dual-frequency RFID wristband known as the MagicBand to all its resort guests staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. Guests staying elsewhere can purchase an RFID-enabled ticket at the theme-park gate, which provides streamlined access through park entrances and other MagicBand features. Disney’s use of RFID is likely to spur adoption by other theme and amusement parks globally.

Airbus to RFID-Tag and Track All Parts Made In-House
Global aircraft company Airbus announced the use of hybrid RFID Integrated Nameplates to supplement its standard, non-RFID nameplates on parts. When attached to a part, the RFID version provides identifying information not only in text and bar-code form, but also by means of its passive EPC Gen 2 tag. The announcement moves the airline industry a step closer to universal tagging of airline parts with RFID.

Zebra Buys Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise Business
RFID, bar-coding and real-time location system (RTLS) technology company Zebra Technologies announced it would acquire Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business for $3.45 billion. The sale gives Zebra control of Motorola Solutions’ RFID hardware business, as well as its mobile-computing, bar-coding, card-printing and cloud-based device-management technologies. Zebra will operate the combined businesses, adding Motorola Solutions’ technology and personnel to its own, under the Zebra name.

Kohl’s Rolls Out RFID for Select Product Categories at Its Stores
Department store Kohl’s completed its installation of an RFID solution to track garments in select categories at its stores and distribution centers. The technology was deployed by Checkpoint Systems, which provided middleware, integration, hardware, tags and labels. The deployment followed a pilot undertaken at 25 stores to gauge the effectiveness of reading passive EPC Gen 2 UHF tags on garments during inventory counts. Now, a large number of strategic apparel items, including footwear, denim and men’s basics, such as underwear and T-shirts, are being tagged at various points along their supply chains, and then counted during regular inventory cycle counts via handheld readers.