Innovation Raises the Value of Standards

Roswell-on-surgical-trayOur new Roswell tag generated a lot of buzz at the recent HIMSS healthcare show and elsewhere, with much of the attention focused on Roswell’s innovative antenna-free design that makes it extremely rugged and makes new RFID use cases possible. There is another important feature that has been somewhat overlooked but is extremely valuable in the healthcare and other industries. Roswell is an EPCglobal Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standard tag (It is also ATEX comply and meets MIL-STD-810F durability requirements). Roswell redefines the rugged read-on-metal RFID tag category, but does so while being interoperable with the data structures and RFID readers that thousands of organizations are already using.

Standards and interoperability are extremely valuable in the healthcare industry, which we saw firsthand at HIMSS. There were more than 1,200 exhibitors at the show, more than 350 new product introductions plus many solutions covering all aspects of healthcare operations. However, many of these solutions are built on proprietary technology and do not easily work with other systems. That is a serious drawback for healthcare buyers, who have many responsibilities (for example improving patient safety, implementing electronic health records, improving asset management, etc.) and can’t afford the time and cost involved with supporting numerous standalone technology systems. In the RFID space alone there were asset management systems based on UHF, HF, microwave, Wi-Fi and ultra wideband frequencies, plus passive, active and semi-active tags. Very few of these solutions are based on widely used standards. Continue reading

Make the Safe Choice for RFID MRO and FOD Solutions

3-roeder-prazisionWe’ve all forgotten to put a tool away after completing a project. When it happens at your house it’s an inconvenience, because the next time you need the tool you spend time searching for it. Lost tools become very dangerous when they are left behind in the aerospace, energy or other safety-sensitive industries. Lost tools cause millions of dollars in damage to airplane engines. A metal tool left in the wrong place in a nuclear power plant could cause a shutdown.

Today many organizations are studying how RFID tool tracking can improve safety by automating foreign object detection (FOD) and support other maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) processes. For example, last year the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued Guidance on Introducing RFID Into Airline Maintenance Operations, and GS1 Europe reported results of an RFID MRO improvement project in the European railway industry. Continue reading

Key Industries Expected to Increase RFID Use in 2014

word-cloudXerafy expects 2014 to be a strong year of growth and innovation, both for the company and the overall RFID industry. Xerafy has developed a few one-of-a-kind products for the industry which will again redefine the boundaries of this space. There are also positive signs for increased RFID adoption in almost all of the main markets we serve. We’ve recently blogged about why RFID use is expanding in the oil & gas industry, the strong business case for RFID tool tracking, how our tags create new opportunities for surgical instrument tracking and how advances in smart labeling will enable accurate item identification and data collection in many other environments. Now let’s take a quick look at potential developments in some other key markets.

So far the Internet of Things (IoT) hasn’t been a large driver of RFID projects, but in 2014 it might get the most attention of any RFID-related development. Noted futurist Tim Bajarin recently wrote for Time magazine that IoT was the biggest theme to come out of the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. RFID can enable IoT applications for maintenance management, healthcare, manufacturing, energy production and many other operations, and Xerafy’s small, extreme environment tags make it possible to RFID-enable almost anything. Continue reading

RFID Helps Improve Patient Safety

Region_H_BrochureAccording to Conde Nast Traveler, 2013 was the safest year for air travel. This is widely attributed to improvements in newer aircraft, better pilot training and better use of technology such as RFID.

Even though the healthcare industry is unique in many respects, the industry can benefit from safety concepts borrowed from aviation and indeed, many initiatives have been successfully transferred from aviation to healthcare already. For example, the Surgical Safety Checklist of the World Health Organization (WHO) is based on a concept introduced in aviation 70 years earlier (Godlee 2009) and is found to reduce deaths and complications for surgical patients by more than a third.

The aviation industry uses RFID extensively not only to boost operational efficiency in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), but also for Foreign Object Detection (FOD) safety. Likewise, RFID brings a number of distinct advantages to healthcare safety and work efficiency, enabling traceability of people, assets and processes, virtually eliminating much of the potential for human error.
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RFID Helps Boosts Operational Efficiency for Aviation Industry

aircraftmaintainThe commercial aviation market has been steadily increasing the use of RFID in Technical Operations which can be broadly classified in two categories: RFID for flyable parts and for air worthiness of the aircraft; and RFID for ground operations and maintenance.

The aviation market has traditionally lagged in data standards across every aspect of information capture, but has begun adoption of Air Transport Association (ATA) SPEC2000 to improve structure and transferability of data. Differences in certification requirements among regulatory agencies (FAA, EASA, etc.) previously hampered adoption of RFID on serialized aircraft components, but driven by common business goals of an outsourced, open sourced, global supply chain, the airline industry — led by Boeing and Airbus— has collaborated to develop an industry standard for automatic data capture using GS1/EPC RFID standards of RFID in ATA SPEC2000 for permanent parts marking.

The application of RFID technology in the Aviation industry has many proven benefits, with the ultimate objective being continued air safety. From a RFID tag perspective, the good news is the technology is certainly ready for the aviation market today; but four years ago, this wasn’t the case. Passive UHF tags do not perform well on metals due to the detuning effects of antenna, and metal tag packaging needs an insulation material between the antenna and the metal surface to work at all. Further complicating this is the availability and cost of high/low memory chips, the tag durability for environmental use, and the size and form factor of the tag for use around small assets and for curved assets such as oxygen generators. Continue reading