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  • Editing Team 09:08 on April 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: active tag, , , , , ,   

    RFID Helps to Locate Underground Infrastructure 

    3M-caution-tape-locate-underground-infrastructure-RFID-blog3M Company has claimed to have developed an effective way to locate the path of underground plastic pipes and conduits, eliminating the need for tracer wire and test stations and the problems and costs associated with them.

    Traditionally a number of techniques have been used, including tracer wires, but these have limitations. They require power to be effective and cease to operate if broken.

    The company said that its new Electronic Marking System (EMS) Caution Tape “uses a new EMS marker technology embedded into a caution tape for installation near or above the buried facility and helps provide continuous path location.” Technology embedded in the tape transmits a signal to a special reader enabling the precise location and route of the pipe or cable to be found.

    3M says the markers require no batteries and there is no need to hook up an external transmitter or search for access points. The markers work independently so that if a section of caution tape is cut or removed, the other markers on the tape will continue to provide accurate location.

    The tape comes in different versions for different types of infrastructure (water, wastewater, gas, telco). Each uses a different frequency to help reduce the risk of accidentally locating and excavating the wrong buried facilities. 3M says the tape can last for up to 50 years.

    In fact, the tape uses RFID technology, which is finding application in a broad swath of industries. If you’ve ever bought a DVD or a book and seen on the back a label with lots of wire squares one inside the other, that’s one type of RFID tag.

    Those wires are an antenna. The bit you don’t see is a microchip and that’s the heart of the device. A reader placed near the tag creates an electromagnetic field that induces a current in the antenna. This current energizes the microchip, which then uses the same antenna to transmit data stored within it. The reader collects and interprets the data.

    RFID technology works only over short ranges. As the distance increase the power that the tag is able to extract from the reader decreases, reducing the power of its transmission, which in turn has to traverse a greater distance to the reader. 3M’s EMS tape is only good for a maximum of 600mm from the surface.

    Active RFID technology is also available, but this requires an external power source, which would neutralize one of the key advantages of 3M’s tape.

  • Editing Team 10:28 on August 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: active tag, , ,   

    What Hinder the Internet of Things from Arriving? 

    The term “Internet of Things” was coined more than a decade ago, by radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology pioneer Kevin Ashton. The idea was to connect every item, product, or “thing” to the Internet through a unique identifier, with RF tags functioning as the means of tracking and identifying.

    Logistics managers can benefit a lot from the Internet of Things, for it would make it possible to track the flow of goods into and out of a warehouse at the item level. Some retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers are already experimenting with item-level tracking. However, it seems to have to take another few years before realizing the ability of tracking everything.

    The benefits of an RFID-enabled “Internet of Things” seem undeniable. So why is it taking so long?


    A recent report from Frost & Sullivan, a market-research firm, titled “Analysis of the Active RFID and Sensor Networks Market” gives some insight into the barriers to making the Internet of Things a reality. It notes that one of the top challenges is getting more companies to buy the type of tags necessary to make this possible.

    To use the Internet of Things, active tags are indispensable. These tags are equipped with a transmitter and their own power source, typically a battery, and periodically transmit their identifying information. That continuous flow of information regarding an object’s presence at a particular time and place provides visibility into the movement of goods as they travel through the supply chain.

    However, although users are generally aware of active tags and their capabilities, they still prefer passive RFID tags, Frost & Sullivan’s research indicates. There are a few reasons of it.

    Above all, there are no common industry standards for active tags. On the other hand, passive tags use data standards developed by the EPCglobal consortium. At the moment, makers of active tags use different technology protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Rubee, Zigbee, ultra wide band, infrared, and ultrasound. All of those protocols require different standards, which prevents wide-scale adoption of the technology.

    Besides the need of a standard for active tags, the cost is another obstacle. Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Nandini Bhattacharya says, a passive basic tag costs $2 to $5 per unit, while an active tag costs between $10 and $15. And that’s the low end of the range. If those tags are embedded with sensors and support multiple technologies, the cost of an active tag can top $100 per unit. At those prices, active tags are still too costly for most companies to justify their deployment.

    Despite those impediments, the Frost & Sullivan report notes that more companies are looking to migrate from traditional active tags to more advanced technologies such as real-time locating systems (RTLS) and active RFID-based sensors that allow users to track the location and condition of objects in real time. In its report, Frost & Sullivan predicted that the total market for all types of RFID and sensors, which stood at $964 million in 2010, would reach $8.39 billion in 2017.

    Just how accurate that prediction will prove remains to be seen. But it looks like it will be at least another five years before the Internet of Things arrives.

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