IBM Leads Charge to Legitimize RFID

At the EPCglobal US conference in Atlanta, a host of companies introduced products and services that further extend RFID's reach and capabilities.

At the EPCglobal US conference in Atlanta last week, a host of companies introduced products and services that further extend RFIDs reach and capabilities.

IBM, for example, announced that three companies focused on radio-frequency identification—OatSystems Inc., Marc Global and TrueDemand Software Inc.—are porting their software to IBMs WebSphere RFID Premises Server, which will result in new products from each vendor. IBM also announced a new printer geared toward the Generation 2 standard ratified earlier this year.

At the same time, hardware provider Alien Technology Corp. unveiled new tags designed to significantly reduce the cost of using RFID technology. Aliens EPC Class 1 RFID labels are priced at just under 13 cents—a 44 percent decrease in the price of 96-bit labels from Alien in the past 12 months, officials said, and a hairbreadth closer to the 5-cents-per-tag price industry experts have pinpointed as necessary for a return on investment. That price is good for tags ordered in quantities of 1 million or more.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Aliens price reduction and its implications for RFID deployments.

With labels ranging as high as 50 cents each, Alien developed a new manufacturing process to bring costs down. The companys Fluidic Self Assembly process and its High Speed Strap Attach Machine assembly technology allow for the relatively low-cost packaging of very small semiconductors in high volumes, said officials of the Morgan Hill, Calif., company.

Separately, hoping to rally the manufacturing industry to further use RFID technology, IBM announced new strategic partnerships. In conjunction with IBM, OatSystems, of Waltham, Mass., will offer an integrated offering that comprises Oats RFID applications and IBMs RFID Premises Server.

"Weve been working with Oat for quite a long time. When we looked at what IBM does and what Oat does, its very complementary," said Ann Breidenbach, director of sensor and actuator solutions product line management and strategy at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y. "Our focus is in middleware and standards; Oats focus is in business processes. The real benefit [of the combination] is tooling that allows you to modify and create new processes for RFID."

Atlanta-based Marc Global, which provides supply chain execution software, completed the integration of IBMs RFID Premises Server with its RFID Enabler software, for combined software that will help users RFID-enable execution systems and comply with EPC (Electronic Product Code) trading partner mandates.

TrueDemand, a Los Gatos, Calif., developer of RFID-enabled supply chain software, is working on EPC-enabled software that runs on IBMs middleware, a combination that will provide real-time access to RFID data.

IBMs new RFID printer, Infoprint 6700 R40, interoperates with tags and other equipment that use the Class 1 Generation 2 standard.

IBM announced its Work in Process software, which helps manufacturers manage inventory by integrating applications internally and externally with partners.

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