Datamars is a pioneer of RFID in the textile industry with more than 1000 textile customers in 40 countries and more than 150 million RFID tags in use worldwide. To read this enormous number of tags, they’ve turned to ThingMagic UHF readers (Astra and Mercury6) for bulk-scanning. With a reader accuracy over 99% the ThingMagic readers have helped the company achieve record growth in the past year.
This year, Datamars has seen 100% of its new industrial laundry projects involve UHF technology, a clear indication that RFID has moved from being a luxury in the textile space to becoming a standard for advanced operations. Because of the low cost of entry associated with UHF RFID, the pairing of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers has become a primary choice both for customers just adopting RFID for the first time, as well as for existing RFID users looking for a combination of LF-UHF or HF-UHF to ease the transition to this next generation of solutions.
In a service industry, the success of an industrial laundry operation hinges not only on maximizing the productivity of a supply chain, but ensuring reliable operations for the customer. With read ranges of up to 6 meters (19 feet) without requiring a direct line of sight, the coupling of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers ensures bulk-scanning accuracy and scanning speed (1000 items in under 10 seconds) that help set an advanced operation apart from its competition.
The numbers from a deployment for Disney can better tell the story of what’s possible with ThingMagic RFID in a large-scale garment tracking solution:
- Disney used UHF RFID to track $100 million worth of costumes.
- The solution has saved the company more than a million dollars.
- Inventory counting times have been reduced from approximately 180 labor hours (within larger costume storage areas) to about two hours.
- The system increased the accuracy of inventory checks, from 85-90% accurate to nearly 100%.
- The need to staff checkout counters has been eliminated, freeing up personnel for other tasks.
Core to ThingMagic’s readers – Astra and Mercury 6 – is predictability and ease-of-use. Deploying an UHF RFID solution, in many more industries beyond textile and industrial laundry, should not require a disruptive installation of RFID hardware and software. As such, ThingMagic readers are developed to integrate easily with existing operations so enterprises can shorten the time to realize business results – the ultimate promise of an RFID solution. Beyond ensuring the reliability that helps an operation survive, more connectivity sets an enterprise up not only to have more visibility into operations, but also to more easily transition to next-generation technology.
For years, a longtime partner of ours, Zebra Technologies, has been known for bringing RFID-enabled products, from printers to handhelds, to market. Most recently, they’ve introduced a cloud-based, multi-sensor platform for connecting legacy devices with smart devices to bridge the gap between the two to help achieve the ideal of the Internet of Things. We’re happy to say that Zebra’s Internet of Things platform – Zatar – will integrate ThingMagic’s embedded RFID technology. The partnership will open connections between legacy assets and more modern devices like iBeacons, printers, handhelds and RFID readers and enable third party apps to more easily work with them over an open source API.
Internet-connected devices make information more available and enable companies to use that information to make decisions and take action faster, which are major value propositions of the ecosystem of the Internet of Things. The evolution of these technologies – RFID and others – from tagging and tracking to automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) to connecting everything over the Internet has created a need for more platforms like Zatar to facilitate these connections. Internet of Things platforms facilitate this communication to fill a need in the space created by the influx of devices that has caught developers and integrators off-guard by the sheer volume points to connect with. As a result, more now than ever, there is now a need for more easy-to-use, comprehensive development platforms to speed the development of programs and integration of technologies with one another.
In the Internet of Things ecosystem, we’ve carved out our own space with the Mercury xPRESS platform. As the need for more RFID-base applications grows, development needs to keep pace by becoming a simpler, faster and more fluid process and less of a burden. This is especially true for industries and organizations where RFID is starting to take hold. What Mercury xPRESS offers is a comprehensive development environment with the most advanced embedded RFID reader modules on the market paired with software and reference documentation to enable low-cost, high-performance embedded RFID solutions. Basically a complete development platform for embedding RFID.
In the new ecosystem of the Internet of Things, RFID is also driving value in more closed-loop environments – or Intranets of Things – for the enterprise, an area that is always exploding with new deployments. Connectivity and information-sharing need to occur in a way that differs on an industry-by-industry basis, so providing managers with a means of developing solutions without having extensive background knowledge in RFID development is valuable to them, especially as they’re able to customize solutions based on how they want the privacy and flow of information to occur. Internet of Things platforms will continue to appear in all different forms, but were seeing RFID continually be a vital addition to most solutions.
Last week we had the opportunity to be back at MIT, where ThingMagic first was started, to display our latest suite of innovations alongside a number of our partners at the 5th annual Auto ID & Sensing Solutions Expo. Given the size of the show, we didn’t expect any groundbreaking announcements that would shake up the auto ID and wireless industry. But it but was a good opportunity to connect with partners and other vendors and OEMs leading the RFID industry. It was also good to see MIT students (and perhaps the next generation of RFID professionals) roaming the expo floor as well. Among the roughly 50 exhibitors at the show, a few ThingMagic partners had interesting deployments to demo for the attendees.
A leader in cloud printing, Zebra had a few printers displayed, including their ZD500R, which takes advantage of a ThingMagic reader module and is versatile in the applications you’ll find it in – from the manufacturing floor to tagging and tracking for retail, healthcare and government.
The Zatar platform was their main attraction, their cloud-based software service that’s meant to help feed Internet of Things solutions more easily into users’ operations. Zatar makes it easier to configure devices together for smoother connectivity and will soon be compatible with ThingMagic devices, though beta customers like American Barcode.
RF Micron is a newer company with beta users developing solutions that involve their sensors which can adjust to environmental conditions and will involve ThingMagic’s M6 and M6e reader modules. Their innovation will prove to be big in industries like oil and gas and other industrial settings where conditions can often affect technology’s functionality. This could range from moisture detection and knowing when water has leaked into places it is not supposed to be, to pressure detection in tire gauges that will allow us to have smarter vehicles.
The newest and probably most interesting thing we saw was the Omni-ID View Tags, that use both active and passive RFID to replace paper labels in supply chain operations with an electronically re-writeable surface that’s added to RF tracking technologies. Picture a nurse wheeling a patient around a hospital, where patient information can be pushed to this device telling where exactly that patient needs to be next. Or an operator on a manufacturing plant floor walking up to a particular asset and having information pushed to this rugged handheld based on his particular role.
All in all, it’s good to see the variety of industries deploying ThingMagic and other RFID technology continue to grow and expand. We had the chance to catch up with one industry analyst at the show for his impression on everything being displayed and his thoughts seemed to mirror what we and other auto ID companies have been seeing and saying more and more – that connectivity across the board, not just RFID, is going to continue becoming cheaper, more fluid and more accessible; all making the Internet of Things more of a reality. And we were glad to be able to have aided in more than a few of such solutions on display at the Auto ID & Sensing Solutions Expo.
The premier industry event for radio frequency and related connectivity and communication technologies, RFID Journal LIVE!, is here again and our RFID reader development platform for OEMs – Mercury xPRESS – has been selected as one of the ten finalists for the 2014 RFID Journal Best in Show award! The award is given to the company that exhibits the best new RFID product or service at the show. RFID Journal Founder and Editor, Mark Roberti, praised the finalists, citing the breadth and scope of the offerings as they illustrate how far companies have come in using RFID technology on a large scale.
ThingMagic introduced the Mercury xPRESS Platform earlier this year, hitting a market at just the right time. Since introducing the xPRESS Platform, we’ve seen customer interest grow quickly. Regardless of comapny size or embedded RFID project, developers are demanding products that will enable them to create and deploy RFID applications more quickly and easily.
This interest stems in part from the barriers driven down by the innovative Mercury 6e Series of modules, which are supported by the platform. These modules enable OEMs to build smaller yet more powerful devices and solutions. With the Mercury xPRESS platform, developers can now focus on designing the next generation of application-specific readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more – solutions that will bring innovation, automation and process improvement to markets that, until now, have yet to realize the true value of RFID.
The Mercury xPRESS platform includes hardware, software and reference documentation that enable more efficient development of low-cost, high-performance application-specific RFID solutions. With the platform, developers can bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes and demonstrate proof of concept using sample applications from the software library almost immediately. This means rapid integration of RFID with a wider variety of products and complementary wireless communication technologies. And, to support ongoing innovation, the integrated development tools, device drivers and application software of the Mercury xPRESS Platform will be enhanced with updates that expand capabilities and enable development of a wider range of end products.
The broad range of product and solution development that is possible through the Mercury xPRESS Platform is something we’re looking forward to exploring with everyone at this year’s RFID Journal LIVE!
ThingMagic is pleased to announce that its Micro and Micro-LTE UHF RFID modules now operate within the recently ratified 920 MHz ultra-high frequency (UHF) standard in Japan. The ratification by Japan to expand the nation’s UHF standard to 920 MHz is further proof of what we’ve seen happening for some time now – RFID is going global.
Japan’s move to a standard that is compatible with much of the rest of the world’s radio frequency range represents a significant lowering of barriers to RFID implementation. It will now be easier to integrate high performance RFID features into products that can change how industries in Japan operate and become more productive. The shift in Japan from a 955 MHz band to a 920 MHz band, in part, represents an opportunity for a market that was valued at just over $637 million (66.7 billion Yen) in FY2012 to grow to a projected $940 million (98.4 billion Yen) in FY2017 (according to Yano Research Institute in Japan).
For developers and OEMs using ThingMagic products, this means they can now support the Japanese market with the industry-leading products they’re already using today. Organizations looking to deploy solutions in Japan are now able to use the ThingMagic Micro and Micro-LTE modules – known for their high performance and read distance in a form factor – in a host of markets, ranging from healthcare to retail to manufacturing and more.
At ThingMagic, we’ve developed some of the most advanced embedded RFID reader modules on the market, and now developers and OEMs are able to move forward in providing progressive solutions in Japan without limitation.
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., MEPS® Real-Time, Inc. (mepsrealtime.com) is now a leading provider of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solutions for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Its suite of Intelliguard® Management Systems offer healthcare providers unprecedented real-time visibility of medical and pharmaceutical inventory to reduce supply chain costs, improve patient safety, increase efficiency of pharmacy and nursing staff and eliminate human error.
MEPS Real-Time® was established originally as a division of Safety Syringes Inc. which was recently acquired by BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX). The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Howard Energy Co., Inc. based in Traverse City, Michigan.
Thanks to Paul Elizondo, Director of Engineering and R&D at MEPS for sharing his insights into the use of RFID in the healthcare market and for his thoughts on ThingMagic's embedded RFID technology and development tools.
Q. MEPS products are positioned as “RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory”. Please comment on the types of inventory your products are used to manage and the value RFID enabling your products provides your customers?
A. Our solutions are focused on high-value, critical dose, controlled drugs and processes. This is where we find the value proposition exists for our hospital customers. When you have a drug that costs hundreds and even thousands of dollars per dose, there is an obvious value to reduce inventory levels and manage expiration dates.
Reducing inventory of high-value drugs can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars freed up for the hospital. But, the drugs must always be there when required for a patient. Our systems provide real-time visibility of inventory, can provide immediate notification of minimum PAR levels, and are perfect solutions for a vendor managed inventory program.
These high-value drugs can also be an expiration risk. Typically, inventory is manually rotated by pharmacy personnel as new inventory arrives so that the first to expire is the first to be utilized. But, that doesn’t always occur. Additionally, inventory can be stored in multiple locations throughout a hospital. Our solutions provide real-time visibility to expiration dates and provide alerts when a drug becomes short-dated so pharmacy personnel can take appropriate action.
Another key value proposition is critical processes within the pharmacy where time-consuming tasks are performed. One of these critical processes is the replenishment of pharmacy kits, trays and boxes distributed throughout the hospital. Once used on a procedure (surgical or emergency), it is returned to the pharmacy. Some trays contain more than 150 drugs. The missing and used items must be identified, replaced and then each drug must be looked at to find the first-to-expire drug. It is a process filled with human error potential and can take 30 minutes or more. Our solution reduces the time to three to five minutes and with complete accuracy.
Our Intelliguard® Solutions include:
Intelliguard Medication Management – Features an Automated Dispensing Cabinet (ADC) that provides real-time, item-level visibility of pharmaceuticals with single and double-drawer options including Cold (2° - 8°C) storage.
Intelliguard Inventory Management – Features Controlled Temperature Cabinets that enable continuous temperature monitoring and real-time inventory visibility of high-value, critical-care medications. Cabinets have preset temperature settings for Cold (2° - 8°C) or Controlled Room (20° - 25°C) storage. Available sizes are from small under-counter to large-capacity models.
Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management Systems – Features countertop unit or an all-in-one cart to automate tray inventory, replenishment and approval processes while significantly reducing required labor. Leveraging advanced RFID technology, enables scans of more than 150 medications in high-density trays, multi-layer tackle boxes and overlapping kit labels in a matter of seconds.
Q. Throughout its history, MEPS products have supported various RFID frequencies including 13.56 MHz high-frequency and 2.45 GHz passive, before settling on settling on EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6c UHF. Can you share lessons learned with each technology and the advantages Gen2 UHF offers?
A. In the year 1999, we employed 13.56 MHz RFID technology in our first attempt to track medication in small enclosures. The complexity of the read antenna systems, resulting from the inductive coupling nature of the 13.56 MHz frequency, along with the non-deterministic, multi-tag read algorithm made it difficult to develop an accurate, repeatable and cost-effective system.
In 2003, MEPS decided to change frequencies and replace 13.56 MHz RFID technology with the recently developed 2.45 GHz RFID technology. This frequency offered the advantage of small read antennas, small RFID tags, high data rates, and a deterministic multi-tag read algorithm. While MEPS was able to develop and successfully deploy a refrigerated medication tracking product, reliability issues associated with the new technology and the lack of a worldwide standards made it difficult to move forward with commercial products.
In 2008, MEPS began the process of developing medication tracking solutions based on the newly ratified EPC Gen2 / ISO 18000-6c UHF RFID standard. The new air protocol standard offered high data rates, reliable RF communication, deterministic multi-tag read algorithm, noise mitigation, control of modulation type and control of other parameters for customizing the RFID identification process for challenging applications. In addition, this world standard at the UHF frequency has benefited integrators and end users by creating competition around a single air protocol resulting in higher performing tags and readers while reducing cost of ownership.
MEPS Real-Time has developed a large portfolio of intellectual property including trademarks, patents and patents pending.
Q. The adoption of UHF RFID in healthcare seems to be growing. What is MEPS experiencing and what are your expectations for the future of UHF in this industry?
A. The business is experiencing huge growth and interest in our Intelliguard RFID Solutions. We believe this has occurred because technology is quickly being identified as one of the only ways to reduce healthcare cost, improve quality of care, help prevent medication errors and increase staff efficiency. These are the key drivers in healthcare today.
We believe UHF RFID is an excellent enabling technology for many solutions in the hospital.
Today versus several years ago, customers are able to identify and purchase solutions instead of technology. As other RFID/Wireless solutions are successfully implemented with a positive ROI, such as RTLS/asset tracking solutions, customers consider additional opportunities to expand the benefits.
Research shows this trend continuing at a more rapid pace. New regulations such as the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) will increase demand. Costs will be reduced and capabilities will increase for UHF readers, antennas, inlays and smart labels because of the adoption in retail and healthcare. This will open up more opportunities with pharmaceutical manufacturers to selectively replace barcode with RFID where there is a need for greater visibility of inventory.
Q. What do you see as the greatest barriers to integrating RFID into products and solutions?
A. Barriers that were there several years ago, are no longer there. UHF has all of the capabilities of HF and has greater long-term opportunities to expand and develop. It is a great solution for supply chain and MEPS has demonstrated that in all of our technology solutions as well as with our business partners.
The hardware, database and inlay/tag solutions are available. The biggest barrier is overcoming the inertia of (hospitals, medical clinics, etc.) continuing to operate in the same historical manner. The challenge is not so much in getting the “tag cost lower,” which has been a barrier in the past, but in demonstrating the value added and cost savings of employing true tracking and inventory systems.
Q. ThingMagic recently released our Mercury xPRESS Platform to simplify the integration of UHF RFID into products and solutions. As an early adopter of the Platform, what has MEPS’ experience been and which features do you think will assist your development efforts the most?
A. MEPS is developing several enclosure solutions for tracking medication in the healthcare market. These solutions require a small or headless computer system that can be configured for connection to a database wirelessly, by Ethernet or USB interface. The Mercury xPress Platform provides this flexibility as well as allowing the use of either the M6e or M6e Micro readers depending on the application. In addition, the Mercury xPRESS platform delivers an array of digital inputs and outputs for process control.
Q. A key feature of the xPRESS Platform is its extensible architecture, giving developers the flexibility to design for the future using a single platform. For example, over time, the xPRESS Platform will include a variety of communication interfaces such as Wi-Fi, POE, GPRS, GPS, 4G/LTE and a library of market and application specific sample applications. How do you feel this will support the development of RFID products in general and benefit MEPS® future development?
A. MEPS is developing RF-enabled enclosures for tracking medication in both stationary and mobile applications. As these solutions expand to address new tracking applications, the flexibility of the xPRESS Platform will facilitate the reconfiguration of products for new RF antenna systems, user interfaces, and control systems.
MEPS®, MEPS Real-Time® and Intelliguard® are registered trademarks and RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory™ are trademarks of MEPS Real-Time, Inc.
We all know our world is more connected than ever, as is evidenced by the millions of smart phones cradled in the hands of people all over the word. But beyond this, there is a vast world of connected devices that is projected to far exceed smart phones. From toll booths and parking spots to refrigerators and thermostats, many places and common place 'things' can and will be connected. This is what the Internet of Things is all about.
The Internet of Things has stealthily crept its way into our everyday lives, promising to create ease and efficiency in everything we do. In the years since the term “Internet of Things” was coined at the Auto-ID Center at MIT, its definition has evolved in some interesting ways. For example, Intel's tagline The Iternet of Things Starts with Intelligence Inside indicates their heavy focus on embedded technology. Cisco’s newly formed Internet of Things business unit has a vision to turn what were once physical products into services by enabling those products to deliver data. Their vision is broad, taking the Internet of Things a step further to The Internet of Everything. Just recently, SalesForce.com has begun defining its vision of IoT as The Internet of Customers. What ever the Internet of Things is or will eventually become, reserch firm Gartner predicts it is growing rapidly. By the year 2020, the Internet of Things market as defined by Gartner will grow to 26 billion units, representing an almost 30 fold increase from 2009.
While the Internet of Things may have expanded to inclue technologies and applications well beyond its roots in RFID, we believe RFID still plays a defining role, particularly as an embedded solution. We’re seeing this manifested in the growth of the RFID industry, with new applications of embedded RFID increasing at a rapid pace across a variety of industries and product categories.
To help drive this growth, ThingMagic recenlty announced the Mercury xPRESS Platform. The Mercury xPRESS Platform is the first of its kind development platform that will make new application-specific RFID product development faster, easier and less expensive.
Leveraging over 10 years of RFID technology advancements and development expertise from ThingMagic, we expect the Mercury xPRESS platform will revolutionize the way that RFID readers and embedded solutions are brought to market, inevitably strengthening RFID’s role in the Internet of Things.
To learn more, please attend our webinar: Innovating With Embedded RFID: Introducing ThingMagic's Mercury xPRESS Platform
We are excited to share the possibilities this new platform offers for designing the next generation of application-specific RFID readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more!
Image source: IEEE
Apprehension developers may have with embedding RFID in new solutions does not come from a lack of perceived value – that value has been proven time and time again.
Like many embedded technologies however, RFID has a history of challenging complexities; often requiring a deep understanding of both RF hardware and application software development.
To answer these challenges, we’ve introduced a comprehensive platform that allows developers to build RFID-enabled solutions with the backing of over a decade of ThingMagic RFID technology expertise and resources!
The first of its kind Mercury xPRESS Platform includes hardware, software and reference documentation to enable the rapid development of low-cost, high-performance application specific RFID readers and embedded RFID solutions. By simplifying the integration of RFID into new and existing solutions, the Mercury xPRESS Platform results in unit cost savings, deployments with a stronger ROI, and an overall positive bottom line impact in many deployments.
With the platform, developers can bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes and testing and proof of concept using sample applications from the software library can start almost immediately. No longer do developers need to have significant RFID domain expertise. This means rapid integration of RFID with a wider variety of products and complementary wireless communication technologies. And, to support ongoing innovation, the integrated development tools, device drivers and application software of the Mercury xPRESS Platform will be enhanced with updates that expand capabilities and enable development of a wider range of end products.
Key components of the Mercury xPRESS Platform include:
- Hardware kit with microcontroller-based motherboard, including:
- Integrated ThingMagic UHF RFID module (Micro, Micro-LTE, or M6e)
- USB interface
- Ports for up to 2 additional plug-in data transport interface modules
- MCU preloaded with sample keyboard wedge application
- An optional Bluetooth plug-in module
- Software toolkit and SDK
- Reference design files including schematics, layout files, Gerber files, bill of material, component data sheets
The growth of RFID has been fueled in part by innovative hardware like our M6e series of modules, which has eroded one major barrier to RFID adoption: having a module that is small enough and powerful enough to fit in readers and other devices that are continually required to be built smaller yet still operate with high performance.
Now with the Mercury xPRESS platform from ThingMagic, developers can focus on designing the next generation of application specific readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more – solutions that could bring innovation, automation and process improvement to markets that until now have not had the resources in place to realize the true value of RFID.
Like athletes constantly searching for the right combination of training and nutrition to make them stronger and faster, developers are always looking for new tools and techniques that make it easier to more quickly build smarter, more powerful applications. For both, it’s about maintaining that competitive edge that will set them apart from others. Developers are finding that the convergence of more efficient and advanced embeddable technology is enabling them to change the wireless industry with a new class of applications.
Embedded RFID has emerged as an extraordinary growth technology. Research shows RFID, contactless, RTLS and similar technologies are enabling a growing number of auto-ID, location, sensing, M2M and Internet of Things applications. According to VDC Research, the market for these applications could grow to over $8 billion within the next five years. And as embedded RFID module innovation continues - with more application-specific options and ease of use features making their way into products - the technology is becoming more desirable for integration.
As a manufacturer of RFID reader modules, we know the hardware is only part of the battle. Our M6e series of modules has pushed the industry standard for size and performance to a point where nearly any engineer or OEM can include RFID as a product feature. But what separates the ideal embedded RFID solution from competing options is a combination of hardware, software and development tools. The importance of having an advanced software capabilities and a robust set of design tools can’t be overstated. This is what will truly drive the growth of embedded RFID.
ThingMagic’s commitment to ease-of-use with our family of advanced RFID modules runs deeper than most. With all ThingMagic RFID modules comes a set of development tools designed to simplify the process of creating an RFID-enabled solution.
These include the ThingMagic RFID module developer kits, our Universal Reader Assistant utility for initializing readers and selecting application-specific performance settings, and our Mercury API SDK with sample applications and source code to help developers get started demonstrating and developing RFID functionality.
And we’re continually enhancing these tools, as the process of programming and implementation is hardly a static one. Most recently we added a set of enhancements to
the Mercury API, including Android OS Support. According to VDC Research, nearly one million developers will be developing applications for embedded systems and M2M applications using Android by the end of 2015. Now, with a sample
Android application and project files, developers can build ThingMagic RFID-enabled Android applications with an easy “out of the box” solution!
Embedding RFID, like integrating any technology, comes with its challenges, which is exactly the reason it’s necessary to drive down these barriers from every direction. RFID exists to simplify the data collection processes and improve business process, but if it’s not simple to implement an RFID solution, it may be hard for some to justify. It is possible to embed RFID with ease, and requires only that a developer find a partner whose offerings can turn them into a championship-level performer.
> Download our Embedded RFID Module Brochure
Let us know how ThingMagic can help you embed RFID with ease!
How mobile computing devices have changed our personal lives is obvious, but enterprises and business professionals today are being similarly affected by the 24/7/365 nature of being connected. The enterprise presents its own challenges for mobility, one in particular being that there are environments mobile devices are now being used in that come with their own risks. We’re talking about settings that can be remote, have harsh operating conditions, are security threats to sensitive information or present dangerous weather, among others things. These mobile computers could be with construction workers hanging steel beams, firefighters in remote mountains, miners miles underground or soldiers in a combat theatre. In these situations, the users need to know that these devices are rugged enough to handle extreme heat, cold, moisture and take a heavy pounding. Like the old Timex watch tagline says, these devices need to be able to “take a licking and keep on ticking.”
It should not come as a surprise that RFID is a growing customer requirement for these devices as it is for many other mobile computing solutions.
To support these requiremnts, last year, Trimble's Mobile Computing Solutions and ThingMagic divisions partnered to create an RFID Reader accessory for the Trimble Nomad handheld. The UHF RFID Reader accessory includes a mounting kit which allows users to add UHF RFID capability to their Trimble Nomad handheld computers – devices with the ruggedness and durability that have made it the handheld computer of choice for users with both physically and technically demanding tasks. Using the Trimble Nomad with an RFID scanner, building contractors for example, can perform a variety of functions such as asset check-in, check-out, transfers and inventory validation much faster than traditional bar code scanning. When integrated with the Trimble® AllTrak™ Asset and Tool Management System, contractors can more easily track and manage all of their jobsite assets and tools resulting in improved equipment monitoring and asset utilization.
One of our more recent opportunities in this space has been with two leading auto-ID companies, DAP Technologies and Omni-ID. DAP and Omni-ID partnered to launch a series of mobile tablets for harsh environments that incorporate both active and passive RFID capabilities – an industry first. As a result, a single device can track and manage assets, collect information, synchronize systems, report data and receive and respond to messages. These rugged tablets include ThingMagic’s high-performance UHF RFID reader module, the Micro, for reading tag information on critical assets and equipment and transmitting that information for management and inventory purpose. The size of the Micro makes it unobtrusive for embedding in mobile devices that still require high performance.
Another industry that’s jumped at the opportunity to apply these kinds of solutions is oil and gas production. Oil and gas companies are now investing in tools that enable them to achieve the vision of the “Digital Oilfield revolution.” Simply put, the Digital Oilfield is defined by a focus on how the petroleum business can deploy information technology to support its main business drivers, namely: maximizing and discovering oil reserves, optimizing hydrocarbon production, improving safety and protecting the environment. And of course much of this work takes place in hard-to-reach, harsh working environments.
Similar to opportunities for productivity enhancement in other industries, the key to almost all the activities associated with the Digital Oilfield is the real-time capture and analysis of data. The auto-ID functionality of today’s mobile computing devices, when coupled with their ruggedized form factor and intuitive interfaces, allows asset tracking and data collection to be a more simple and consistent process, almost becoming an afterthought when in the field. This means fewer manual processes and the opportunity to generate new data for business process improvement.
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