Two Vendors Offer RFID Packages

By Bob Violino

Intermec and Manhattan Associates have introduced all-in-one packages aimed at helping companies get RFID pilots off the ground quickly.


June 10, 2003—Intermec Technologies Corp. and Manhattan Associates this week introduced RFID packages designed to help potential users of RFID get pilots up and running quickly. The offerings were unveiled at Retail Systems 2003/VICS Collaborative Commerce, which is co-located with RFID Journal Live! in Chicago this week.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Manhattan Associates has teamed with Alien Technology to offer “RFID in a Box.” The package includes a limited-use license to Manhattan Associates’ Trading Partner Management application, five RFID readers with two antennas per reader, as well as RFID tags from Alien Technology to label and track goods, and five remote EPC printers to print the RFID labels.

Manhattan’s Gilbert

“This program will allow our customers that are interested in RFID to gain some experience in and exposure to RFID for a very low investment on their side,” says Greg Gilbert, Manhattan’s product manager for RFID strategy. “We’re doing this to help speed adoption because we have a lot of customers that are really interested in RFID, but they’re having a hard time figuring out where to start on their own.”

The idea is that a retailer could give some of the RFID labels and a label printer to a supplier. When the supplier is ready to ship goods to the retailer’s distribution center, the supplier prints the label and puts it on the product. The retailer can then receive the shipment automatically through a dock door with RFID readers.

The RFID labels will have embedded UHF chips based on the Auto-ID Center’s Class 1 specification. The tags will carry Electronic Product Codes and will be provided by Alien Technology, which will also provide the readers.

Manhattan Associates is working with Zebra Technologies and another manufacturer to develop a label printer that operates in the UHF band (915 MHz). The goal is to offer a thermal printer that can print the shipping information on the front of a 4 by 6-inch shipping label and write information to the RFID tag.

Intermec’s “Intellitag Ready-To-Go Retail RFID” package includes hardware, software and professional services. Wal-Mart and other retailers are looking to have suppliers tag cases and pallets, and the Intermec offering, like the Manhattan package, is designed to help suppliers get up to speed with RFID quickly.

The Intellitag RFID retail kit offers the Intellitag RFID tags in several different form factors. There are tags that are designed for reusable plastic containers and wooden pallets. The kit comes with a UHF reader and software for controlling the readers and capturing data. The software also has a simulation that shows how data can flow into a database for use by an enterprise application.

Dan Bodnar, Intermec’s director of product marketing for the data capture systems group, says the professional services will involve giving customers who buy the package an understanding of how RFID works, how to set up the hardware and how the tags and readers interact. Companies can have Intermec do a site survey to analyze the potential performance of an RFID system in their specific environment for an extra fee.

“What we’ve done is package up the necessary components in a kit that makes it easy for people who want to begin learning about RFID,” says Bodnar. “They can get this package and be up and running and experimenting with RFID within a couple of hours.”

Bodnar says pricing hasn’t been finalized but will likely be around $15,000.