RFID Vendors Raise the Stakes with New ProductsBy Renee Boucher Ferguson | Print
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OATSystems, BEA and Alien introduce new technologies to grab the attention companies eager to deploy RFID.
With the design and deployment work for the U.S. Department of Defense's extensive RFID network completed in late September, industry experts expect a ripple effect across the supply chain industry, with more companies moving to add RFID dollars to their budgets.
RFID vendors aren't wasting any time coming out with new products to meet the anticipated needs of companies in various phases of RFID deployment.
BEA Systems and OATSystems on Oct. 12 announced new productsBEA the second revision of its WebLogic RFID Enterprise Server, and OATSystems its namesake (and new) tag@source system.
On the hardware front, Alien Technology made four announcements this week that, taken together, represent its biggest splash since the company came out of a quiet period, imposed by a postponed IPO earlier this year.
Alien launched on Oct. 9 its high-volume RFID inlay manufacturing facility in Fargo, N.D. Along with the ribbon cutting, the company announced the release of its Gen2 chip product, the expansion of its Gen2 inlay portfolio, and an agreement with six label converters for the purchase of up to 840 million RFID tags.
Under the terms of its agreements with the label resellers, Alien is the primary supplier of Gen2 UHF (ultra high frequency) tags that the partners buy and then covert into RFID labels for a wide range of supply chain, asset tracking and item-level applications.
"Alien has made a strong commitment to these top label suppliers to collaborate on provisioning the rapidly growing market for RFID technology," said Keith McDonald, a senior vice president at Alien, in Morgan Hill, Calif.
OATSystems as well is focusing on the label market with its latest announcement.
The company, which generally offers RFID middleware that helps to connect RFID and enterprise systems together, is now looking to the other end of the spectrum.
Tag@source automates tagging of products for manufacturers within production. It's essentially an in-line tagging solution built on top of OATSystem's RFID framework and integration software called Foundation Suite.
It provides the necessary steps for tagging goods at the manufacturing site, including encoding, applying, verifying, pallet building, shipping and any rework.
One idea among suppliers faced with RFID tagging mandates from the likes of the DoD is that they may be able to cut costs by pushing tagging down to the manufacturing level.
By tagging at the source, manufacturers themselves are able to meet compliance mandates and also gain some insight into the movement of their goods, according to Oat Systems, based in Waltham, Mass.
One thing everyone's waiting for is the cost of tags to come downa supply and demand issue that may be solved as more companies undertake RFID projects.
Separately, BEA Systems' upgraded WebLogic RFID Enterprise Server 2.0 is designed to help companies with big multilocation RFID deployments centralize the management of RFID events.
The software, which is compliant with EPCglobal's latest EPCIS standards, adds four new services that are designed to help users manage and coordinate RFID data gathered at "edge" operationsinside a retail store, warehouse or data center.
The four services in Enterprise Server 2.0a component of BEA's SOA (service-oriented architecture) 360 degree platformaim to enable better data collection, storage and reporting.
An RFID event repository stores RFID data collected across an enterprise. A master data service brings pre-defined, customizable templates for commonly used types of master data.
A reporting service provides Web-based reporting capability around event history, last location seen, missing assets, dwell time and transit time.
The last service enables data exchange with trading partners using several different protocols.
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