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RFID News Roundup

Avery Dennison intros ultra-small RFID inlay for item-level applications; fashion brand Dazzle implements item-level RFID with UPM RFID inlays; TravelCenters of America rolls out RFID transaction system; RFID newcomer Global Tag debuts with varied product suite; Walki unveils new way of producing RFID antennas; Smartrac acquires KSW Microtec; Microsoft announces its Tag app for smartphones is NFC-ready.

Dec. 15, 2011—The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Avery Dennison Intros Ultra-small RFID Inlay for Item-level Applications
Avery Dennison RFID has introduced a new, near-field ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive inlay measuring just 0.91 inch by 0.20 inch (23 millimeters by 5 millimeters), with a total surface area that, according to the company, is approximately one-third that of comparable tags, while delivering similar performance. Designed for challenging item-level applications, the EPC Gen 2-compliant AD-110m5 inlay is made with Impinj's Monza 5 microchip (see Impinj Launches Products to Speed Item-Level Encoding), and is insensitive to liquids, plastics and other RF-unfriendly materials as well, the company reports. "We've seen a lot of situations where the business case for item-level tracking was there but the right inlay was not," said Maggie Bidlingmaier, Avery Dennison RFID's global director of sales and marketing, in a prepared statement. "The AD-110m5's robust characteristics should meet those needs and open up new possibilities for applications that call for smaller, high-performance item-level RFID inlays." According to Impinj, tests of the new inlay with Impinj's near-field antennas and Speedway Revolution readers provided improved read performance with a variety of materials, which Impinj attributes to the combination of Avery Dennison's advanced antenna design and the Monza 5 chip's read sensitivity. Samples of the AD-110m5 inlay are available now, with production quantities slated to be made available during the first quarter of 2012.

Fashion Brand Dazzle Implements Item-Level RFID With UPM RFID Inlays
UPM RFID and partner Shanghai BizGrid Information Technology, a Chinese RFID solutions provider, have announced that they are working with international fashion brand Dazzle on an item-level RFID project being undertaken in China. This year, Dazzle's d'zzit fall and winter collection will carry EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) hangtags with UPM ShortDipole and UPM Belt RFID inlays that, the companies report, will improve supply chain and sales channel management. Dazzle hopes to improve its logistical efficiencies and shipping and receiving operations by reading the tags and verifying every shipment upon receipt. The firm also hopes to improve store inventory accuracy, by tracking garments with the RFID hangtags as they arrive at the shops, and by leveraging smart shelves. Using handheld readers, retail shop personnel can easily check inventory levels and replenish sold-out items. The third goal is to enable item-level tracking from storage to the point of sale, as well as verify garment authenticity. With a combined RFID reader and antenna at checkout, multiple garments could be scanned simultaneously for faster customer service. The RFID hangtags could also be used in conjunction with an electronic article surveillance (EAS) application, the companies report, for anti-theft purposes. During a second stage of implementation, Dazzle plans to leverage the system to develop smart displays that retailers could use to provide product information and offer matching accessories in interaction with customers. At its warehouses, the firm plans to utilize trolleys containing RFID readers to confirm that the correct apparel has been selected for shipment to retailers.

TravelCenters of America Rolls Out RFID Transaction System
TravelCenters of America (TA) has announced that it has agreed to purchase and install RFID technology at all of its locations nationwide. This technology, known as Fuel Island Manager, is distributed by Comdata Networks, and is being developed by QuikQ, based in Franklin, Tenn. Fuel Island Manager, designed as a fueling payment solution for travel centers and transportation companies, provides a faster, more efficient method for drivers to fuel, the company reports, while offering transportation companies additional options for controlling the fuel-purchasing process. Fuel Island Manager employs EPC Gen 2 passive RFID technology to automatically initiate transactions at fuel dispensers. To operate the system, TravelCenters of America explains, a trucking company would simply need to install the RFID tags within each of its vehicles, and the tags would then activate fuel dispensers at fueling stations equipped with Impinj RFID readers and antennas as vehicles pulled alongside them, according to each trucking company's specifications for a particular vehicle and location. The solution is designed to streamline the fueling process, thereby enabling drivers to spend less time at the pump since the tag eliminates most, if not all, data-entry tasks. Fuel Island Manager simplifies the overall fuel-purchasing process, because it automates transactions for drivers, expedites transaction authorization and reduces the chance of unauthorized purchases. RFID technology may also benefit trucking companies, the company adds, by reducing the amount of administration related to the issuance of physical payment cards. Headquartered in Westlake, Ohio, TA is a full-service national travel center chain in the United States, with 165 locations across 41 states. The company says it serves hundreds of thousands of professional drivers and other highway travelers each month, including virtually all major trucking fleets, and expects to begin installation at its locations nationwide next year. TravelCenters of America is not the first business to implement Fuel Island Manager technology. Love's Travel Stops is currently testing it at one of its locations in Oklahoma City (see Love's Tries RFID for Automating Fuel Payments).

RFID Newcomer Global Tag Debuts With Varied Product Suite
Global Tag, an RFID startup headquartered in Brescia, Italy, is debuting with a wide range of RFID tags and labels for a variety of markets and applications, including ticketing, industrial-automation, retailing, anti-counterfeiting, education and hospitality. The company, founded last month, is privately funded. Global Tag's catalog covers more than 200 products, divided into three different frequencies—125 kHz low-frequency (LF), 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) and 860 to 960 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)—as well as several dual-frequency RFID cards. According to Fabio Mazzola, from Global Tag's marketing department, the company can also produce various tag forms, including wristbands, key fobs, nails and paper tickets, available in a variety of sizes, with such custom printing options as bar codes and serial numbers. Other options include tags encased in glass, as well as those designed for use in or on metal. One of the newest entrants to Global Tag's line-up is the Tag Hercules RFID tag, a high-performance UHF tag with Alien Technology's Higgs 3 EPC Gen 2 inlay designed for use in identifying municipal garbage bins and pallets. "This kind of transponder, built with a hardy and waterproof plastic case with an IP67 protection rating, allows its use both indoors or outdoors," Mazzola says, "while two holes guarantee a quick installation on any surface, except for metal surfaces." Global Tag is currently selling its tags in Europe and North America, with plans to extend to emerging markets, such as Africa and South America. The company's entire product catalog, with technical specifications, photos and other information, is available on Global Tag's multilingual Web site.
Walki Unveils New Way of Producing RFID Antennas
Walki, a manufacturer of technical laminates, has unveiled what it describes as a new efficient and sustainable method for producing flexible circuit boards and RFID antennas. The patented technology, known as Walki-4E, leverages a dry production process that does not involve liquid chemicals, and that uses paper as the substrate. According to Walki, the technology allows for computer-to-antenna production and extremely accurate laser cutting of circuit-board patterns. Compared with etching, the company reports, the technology eliminates an entire step from the tag-production process, or from the converter's process, thus combining efficiency and economy. Walki reports that the process involves producing a special laminate of aluminum and paper substrate, after which the aluminum foil is cut into patterns using a laser. "Since paper is used as a substrate, the RFID manufacturers can leave out the insertion of the PET inlay into paper, a necessary step when the antenna has been produced by etching," said Sami Liponkoski, Walki's global product manager, in a prepared statement. "Moreover, the computer to antenna production method speeds up design and development, an advantage especially when it comes to producing short series, involving a fewer number of antennas." Liponkoski also said, "We think that Walki-4E technology is the first feasible alternative to etching and that it will bring new dimensions of cost efficiency and sustainability to the industry." The dry process does not involve any chemicals, thereby resulting in process residue that, according to Walki, is easily recyclable, as well as a finished product (an antenna) that is also fully recyclable. The technology can be used for any production of flexible circuit boards, ranging from RFID antennas to boards for radiators and flexible displays. The first product to be launched utilizing Walki-4E technology will be Walki-Pantenna, an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID antenna that the company expects will be ready for mass production next year. Walki is currently in the ramp-up phase for its new production line, in Pietarsaari, Finland.

Smartrac Acquires KSW Microtec
Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has announced that it has signed a contract with private-equity firm Deutsche Effecten- und Wechsel-Beteiligungsgesellschaft (DEWB) regarding the acquisition of RFID component manufacturer KSW Microtec (KSW). The deal is valued at approximately $31.2 million (€24 million). Smartrac has a global network of research and development, production, and sales locations on four continents, and the acquisition will provide the company with KSW's technology and expertise regarding high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlay production and proprietary know-how. Synergies are anticipated to result from joint research and development activities, Smartrac reports. The acquisition is expected to extend Smartrac's market position within the RFID industry, particularly in access-control, electronic-payment, electronic-ticketing and asset-management applications, as well as for high-security products for government identification documents. KSW Microtec is headquartered in Dresden, Germany, with customers throughout Europe and North America. The company manufactures RFID inlays, prelaminates and components, based on etched and printed antennas deploying advanced wafer-processing, assembly, laminating and interconnecting technologies. The acquisition of KSW enlarges Smartrac's presence in Germany to three locations: Dresden, Stuttgart and a manufacturing facility in Reichshof-Wehnrath. KSW and its 72 employees will continue their business activities in Dresden. Under the new ownership, KSW Microtec's operations will be integrated into Smartrac's business-unit organization and global corporate structure.

Microsoft Announces Its Tag App for Smartphones Is NFC-Ready
Microsoft has announced that its Microsoft Tag smartphone platform now provides support for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, in addition to the support already available for QR Codes (a type of matrix bar code) and Microsoft's own Tag 2-D bar code, which consists of a graphical image about an inch square, outlined with a black-and-white inner boarder, and filled with multicolored or black and white triangles or dots. Microsoft Tag is a marketing solution that allows companies to leverage Microsoft Tag, QR Codes and now NFC technology to create simple marketing campaigns that deliver a line of text or a phone number, and that can help people use a mobile site, view a video, download an application, obtain contact information and more. Customers need not type in a URL, for example—instead, they can use their mobile phone to read the URLs encoded to bar codes and passive 13.56 MHz NFC RFID tags (assuming their phone has an NFC RFID reader). With the Microsoft Tag solution, organizations also gain access to free reporting that measures each campaign's success; a single, free smartphone app—the Tag app—that lets customers use their mobile devices to engage with Microsoft Tag and QR bar codes; and NFC RFID tags found in magazines, on product packages, on bumper stickers and more. The solution includes all tools necessary to create Tag bar codes, QR Codes or NFC tags, Microsoft reports, and to encode them with URLs—in less than five minutes—using the free Tag Manager tool, and to then add them to marketing materials.
Pub Time : 2011-12-16 14:13:20 >> News list
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