In June this year Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based Reva Systems Inc won the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange or MITX Technology awards in the IT Operations category for its radio frequency identification network infrastructure products.
Two weeks later Reva announced a 200 site rollout through the Metro retail group in Europe where Reva’s UHF passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is being used for inventory management and goods processing.
With the number of network-connected readers deployed globally projected to grow beyond 100 million within the next decade, the RFID reader is poised to become the most numerous and densely deployed device in the enterprise networks of leading corporations around the world.
Ashley Stephenson is chairman and co-founder of Reva. Automotive Industries (AI) asked him about what made Reva’s RFID products different.
Stephenson: Reva’s products are standards-based purpose built RFID appliances that provide a high performance, reliable RFID network infrastructure solution. This is in stark contrast to most of the other players in the market which are proprietary software running custom programs on a general purpose PC.
AI: What has been the impact of Reva’s collaboration with Intel?
Stephenson: Intel’s decision to get into the RFID market really moves the industry forward. We’ve worked with them on their reader chip introduction which is bringing a better price performance standard to the broader reader market for both fixed and handheld / mobile readers.
AI: Earlier this year, Dow Corning, which makes silicon-based products including adhesives, sealants, rubber and lubricants started using RFID in its Auburn, Michigan manufacturing plant to monitor the manufacturing processes. What other uses are you seeing?
Stephenson: Customers like HP, Flextronics and Foxconn are integrating RFID into their base manufacturing processes. We also have an application at Sony where they tag items in their distribution process to ensure they’ve picked orders correctly. They also video the order packaging and shrink-wrapping process and burn the RFID tag data into the video to provide proof-of-shipment and a record for supporting customer service.
AI: How do you see RFID being used by automotive companies?
Stephenson: Different types of RFID have been used in the automotive industry for years from smart key fobs to various WIP tracking applications. With the standardized UHF passive RFID that has emerged, we are seeing automotive companies re-visit some of these areas. But mostly they are looking at new processes and areas of their businesses where tracking was always a good idea, but the mechanics didn’t make sense. Tool tracking and MRO items within factories is right at the top of that list. The next area is merging components onto the assembly line. We are also seeing finished goods tracking, hazardous materials tracking, and even smart work stations that are triggered to the RFID badges of operators. The uses for RFID especially when it can be leveraged across trading partners and purchased at attractive price points are virtually endless.
AI: What is going to fuel the demand for RFID products over the next few years?
Stephenson: We are starting to see enterprise, industry and eco-system growth. What I mean by enterprise growth is – as more companies bring standards-based RFID into production, you will see growth within those enterprises. We have customers who are talking about 75 to 100 readers at each site and a year ago they only had three readers in a pilot setting. Eco-system growth is appropriate to industries like automotive where as the primary manufacturing companies adopt the technology it tends to work its way up and down the supply chain. The sheer number of applications, number of companies and number of sites that can benefit from the intelligent use of RFID coupled with the price, performance and scalability that can be achieved with approaches like Revas RFID infrastructure leads us to believe that the adoption rate over the next few years is going to be incredible.