Think Innovation Think RFID
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Think Innovation Think RFID Think Innovation Think RFID Document Transcript

  • Think Innovation Think RFID
  • Contents RFID Explained Introduction 4 Where is RFID used? 6 Implementing/Deploying RFID 7 The Use of RFID 9 Research Activities Queen’s University Belfast 18 University of Ulster 20 Case Studies Ulster Carpets (Compete) 24 Kilpatrick (PPD) 25 Ashdale Engineering (SMART) 27 Invest NI and R&D Financial Assistance START Programme 30 Compete Programme 31 Product and Process Development Programme 32 Knowledge Transfer Partnership Programme 33 SMART Award 34 Managment Information System Programme (MIS) 35 Business Improvement Training Programme 36 1
  • RFID Explained 3
  • Introduction Introduction to Radio Frequency Introduction to Microwave (RF) (MW) Radio frequency (RF) refers to electromagnetic The electromagnetic spectrum shown in the waves that have a wavelength suited for use figure below covers a wide range of waves with in radio communication. Radio waves are different properties depending on the frequency, classified by their frequencies, which are f, of the wave. The wavelength, Ï is related to expressed in kilohertz, megahertz or gigahertz. frequency through the speed of propagation Radio frequencies range from very low frequency (c = Ï·f) where c equals the speed of light in (VLF), which has a range of 10 to 30 kHz, free space. to extremely high frequency (EHF) which has Microwaves are usually defined as electromagnetic a range of 30 to 300 GHz. RF Technology is waves in the frequency region from 300 MHz used in many different applications, such as to 30 GHz. This means that the wavelength in television, radio, mobile phones, radar and free space has the same order of size as the automatic identification systems. components used for generation and detection of microwaves. 4
  • RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. There are both active and passive tags. It uses radio frequency to identify objects. In its Passive tags do not have their own energy source, most basic form, RFID requires two components: they are activated by the radio frequency field from the antenna of the RFID reader. These chips • a Radio Signal Transponder, or tag, that is are intended for use in the consumer goods attached to an object and contains identifying industry and the trade sector. information about the object to which it is attached and an antenna to communicate Active tags have a power supply, which means data that information via radio waves; stored can be read at a much greater distance. • a reader, which creates a radio frequency field Many toll systems, for example, function on that detects radio waves to obtain information this principle. See Appendix 1 and 2 for in a tag. further information. In an RFID system, there is no line of sight requirement for product identification because the tags do not need to be seen by a scanner. Some form of number code is generally stored on the transponder. It encrypts information which is recorded in a database for access by authorised users. International organisations such EPCglobal are working to establish uniform worldwide standards for this number code. 5
  • Where is RFID used? RFID is already widely used across a broad range of industries. This table shows some RFID applications. Industry Sector Specific Use Examples Retail • Track and trace • Product recalls • Streamlined shipping and receiving • Automated invoice reconciliation • Shrinkage reduction • Improved demand planning Healthcare • Red Cross: monitoring blood banks • Hospitals: monitoring medication routes from medicine cabinet to patient • Pharmacy: drug recall (product pedigree) • Prescription drugs: identifying counterfeit or falsely labelled medications Logistics • Asset utilization: asset (e.g., containers, trucks, etc.) management, tracking and maintenance • Improving operational efficiencies: volume planning and automated data capture through shipping route • Safety and security: shipment route tracing and positive identification of package contents • Automated customs Automotive • Capital asset management: container and tool management • Part tracking: inventory management; assembly; theft control; brand authentication; distribution; recall; recycling • Vehicle related: car identification; access control; tire pressure Food Industry • Mad Cow Disease/Bird Flu: cow/bird pedigree, herd/flock history and details about the release into the food chain (Traceability) • Restaurants: responding to outbreaks of food poisoning Department of Defence • Supplies and materials management: track and trace; streamlined receiving; etc. • Military assets management: asset utilisation, tracking and maintenance Security/Policing • Passport • ID’s • Criminal tracking Airline • Baggage handling 6
  • Implementing/ Deploying RFID RFID is a technology from which many uses To successfully implement/deploy RFID the and applications can be found that can add following should be considered: value to a business. It also requires special skills. • Planning Several companies in Northern Ireland have Careful planning is essential to ensure that already adopted and implemented RFID the organisation benefits and to avoid risks. successfully. Success stories are included It will require creation of a new policy to adopt later in this document. the technology. Communication, education Both local universities have extensive experience and training plans must also be in pace. in RFID ranging fundamental research and design • Physics to application. Queen’s University Belfast and Physics is a very important factor in the University of Ulster are the best source to supply implementation process. Selecting the right RFID skills to the local industry. Their laboratories hardware (tags, reader, range of frequencies, can be used to analyse and characterise devices. number of reader etc) and designing the The first step in deploying RFID is to map out software are crucial. Therefore, the design requirements and to consider if other technologies stage and understanding the business model may be more suitable. A. SWOT analysis can are important factors for decision making help to tease out requirements. exercises. It is essential to identify/select the right partner to supply the hardware Some organisations will factor RFID into their to provide the right solution. strategy, as RFID can be seen as part of the Six Sigma process of continuous improvement. • Pilot The most important factor to any organisation The pilot phase is critical. This phase is a test is Return on Investment. for project planning. It is important to carry out pilot trials before full scale implementation, in order to ensure that the hardware and software works to plan. This phase can be used as a training step to familiarise staff with the technology prior to full deployment. It is essential to review the design and specification at this stage. 7
  • • Production The production phase or full scale phase is the methodical scaling up of a well designed system. If the Planning and Pilot phases were completed with clear objectives and goals in mind, the implementation process can be very smooth. Project management coupled with clear goals is a key factor. Contingency and flexibility need to be built into the project as this technology is new to most companies. ODIN technologies developed the following model to implement/deploy RFID solution. Figure 1, illustrates 4 Ps to deploy RFID technology - source ODIN technologies. 8
  • The Use of RFID The Use of RFID and its applications in The once obscure acronym RFID (Radio Frequency manufacturing, logistics and supply chain IDentification, the use of electromagnetic waves management, retailing etc. to identify a physical object) has recently been in the news in many contexts. In this document, RFID is a flexible technology that is convenient, we will try to explain how that single acronym easy to use, and well-suited for automatic operation. is used for a number of different, but related, It combines advantages not available with other technologies with distinct characteristics, identification technologies. RFID can be supplied and examine some of the unique analog and RF as read-only or read/write, does not require problems encountered in designing RFID systems. contact or line-of-sight to operate, can function under a variety of environmental conditions, • Unlike the barcode where identification is and provides a high level of data integrity. limited by line-of-sight, RFID technology and In addition, because the technology is difficult to its reliance on radio waves does not require counterfeit, RFID provides a high level of security. a line-of-sight for identification or a straight- line alignment between the tags and readers. RFID is similar in concept to bar coding. Bar code • As new applications develop, the technology systems use a reader and coded labels that are will continue to evolve. Growth beyond today’s attached to an item, whereas RFID uses a reader user-specific systems will occur as RFID is and special RFID devices that are attached to deployed across the marketplace and the an item. Bar code uses optical signals to transfer related hardware and software achieve information from the label to the reader; a high degree of harmonization. RFID uses RF signals to transfer information from the RFID device to the reader. Opportunities Radio waves transfer data between an item to which an RFID device is attached and an • As the technology matures and applications RFID reader. The device can contain data about proliferate, RFID will facilitate global commerce the item, such as what the item is, what time and spur innovation and competitiveness. the device travelled through a certain zone, • RFID technology increases visibility and perhaps even a parameter such as temperature. accountability in the supply chain. RFID will RFID devices, such as a tag or label, can be allow manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers attached to virtually anything – from a vehicle to efficiently collect, manage, distribute, to a pallet of merchandise. and store information on inventory, business processes, and security controls. 9
  • Challenges • The collection and use of personally identifiable information through RFID technologies • As is common with emerging technologies, represents a key public policy challenge to several challenges must be overcome for the deployment and use of RFID technologies. the technology to mature to its full potential. In the case of RFID, these challenges include: Much of this concern is with the collection, maturation of RFID technology, harmonization use, and storage of the data rather than the of standards for hardware/software and technology itself. Industry-driven solutions wireless spectrum operations, privacy and are beginning to include a combination of security concerns, and implementation operational guidelines, technical solutions, cost barriers. As these technical and policy and educational campaigns. challenges are addressed, RFID will likely An RFID system consists of tag, antenna and reader, become the system of choice for which is illustrated below. global commerce. • Interoperability across various RFID systems, companies, and countries is critical to achieving wide-scale deployment of RFID technology. Development of technical standards for tags, readers, and interface systems; and allocation of operational limits for frequency and transmission power will determine global interoperability. • Initial system and implementation costs are still being refined; in the near-term Antenna this could prove to be an impediment to Each RFID system includes at least one antenna large-scale adoption. Within small and to transmit and receive the RF signals. In some medium-sized enterprises, although RFID systems, a single antenna transmits and provides them with new opportunities to receives the signals; in other systems, one compete in the global market, limited budgets, antenna transmits and one antenna receives lack of in-house expertise, and a lack of access the signals. The quantity and type of antennas to new technologies could act as barriers used depend on the application. to adoption. 10
  • Reader However, it has become common within the industry to interchange the terminology and refer The RFID reader directs the RF transceiver to to these devices as either tags or transponders. transmit RF signals, receives the encoded signal For the purposes of this overview, an RFID device from the tag through the RF transceiver, that actively transmits to a reader is termed an decodes the tag’s identification, and transmits “active” tag; an RFID device that only reflects the identification with any other data from the or backscatters transmission from a reader tag to the host computer. The reader may also is termed “passive.” provide other functions. The user can change or customise the reader’s operations to suit The tags are programmed with data that identifies a specific requirement by issuing commands the item to which the tag is attached. Tags can through the host computer or a local terminal. be either read -only, volatile read/write, or write one/read many (WORM) and can be either active or passive. In general, active tags use batteries Tag to power the tag transmitter (radio) and receiver. RFID ‘tags’ are tiny microchips, in some cases These tags usually contain a greater number as small as a grain of sand, which hold unique of components than do passive tags. data identifying the object tagged. These tags, Therefore, active tags are usually larger in which have a small antenna attached, are read size and are more expensive than passive tags. remotely by an RFID reader. Depending on In addition, the life of an active tag is directly the radio frequency used and the type of tag, related to battery life. RFID tags can be read in some instances up Passive tags can be either battery or to several kilometres away, although it is more non-battery operated, as determined by the typical for RFID to be used in situations where intended applications. Passive tags reflect the shorter transmission distances are adequate. RF signal transmitted to them from a reader or Tags can be passive (activated when read) transceiver and add information by modulating or active, equipped with their own micro-battery the reflected signal. A passive tag does not use a and a transmitter. battery to boost the energy of the reflected signal. An RFID device that did not actively transmit A passive tag may use a battery to maintain to a reader was known as a tag. An RFID device memory in the tag or power the electronics that that actively transmitted to a reader was known enable the tag to modulate the reflected signal. as a transponder (Transmitter + responder). 11
  • Passive Tag However, the resulting power received at the reader is dependent on the fourth rather than Passive tags have neither a battery nor a the second power of the distance: Prec ? (1/r4), radio transmitter. Power to operate the tag IC and falls off very rapidly, so that receive-limited is obtained by rectifying RF energy intercepted range may also be only a few 10s of meters. by the tag antenna. The IC power required is typically some 10s to a few hundred microwatts, The limited power available to the IC also limits greatly in excess of the threshold for detection the amount of information that can be stored for a conventional radio link operating at similar and the amount of computational power available: data rates. Thus the forward-link-limited range passive tags can’t be expected to deal with of a passive tag is a few meters to perhaps the array of methods used in conventional 15 meters depending on the radiated power radios to ameliorate noise and fading, and antenna gain. such as interleaving, convolution coding, or phase-shift-keyed modulations. A parallel channel with shorter time constants rectifies part of the received signal to extract The benefit obtained from all the sacrifices in the amplitude-modulated information from the performance is a considerable reduction in cost reader. Since there is no coherent frequency and complexity: commercial tags are available conversion and limited amplification available, today at costs as low as US$0.20 in volume, tag receive sensitivity is also greatly inferior with a plausible path to costs of less than US$0.10. to that of a conventional radio, but expensive Passive tags are small and thin, and can be and power-hungry components required by a embedded in adhesive labels and other unobtrusive conventional receiver (synthesizer, mixer, LNA, etc.) structures, and since they have no battery they are avoided. Finally, the tag does not transmit its are maintenance-free and have long field lifetimes. own signal to the reader, but simply modulates the signal that its antenna backscatters by Active Tag changing the antenna impedance. Active tags are architecturally-conventional radios, In this fashion, the tag need only provide a using a battery to power a transmitter and receiver switching function operating at a modest rate and well as the IC. The resulting performance comparable to the data rate (a few hundred Kbps), improvements allow for ranges of hundreds rather than requiring oscillators, amplifiers, of meters in unlicensed outdoor operation, and mixers operating at 900 MHz. 12
  • but size and cost are considerably higher than Semi-passive tags can be integrated with passive tags, making active tags appropriate sensing capability. However, batteries must only for marking of expensive assets or be replaced periodically. Battery life of up to tracking of people. To minimize power usage, five years is achieved by careful design and active tags often transmit infrequent short bursts, low-power signal-present detection so that using pseudo noise-coded schemes similar to most of the circuitry is off when no interrogator code-division multiplexing (CDMA) techniques is present. Semi-passive tags are much larger employed in cellular telephony. and more expensive than passive tags. These brief bursts allow for accurate time-of arrival Passive measurements and therefore precise location of the transmitter if multiple receivers are available; active tags are often used to provide both identity and location of valuable assets such as shipping containers in outdoor storage yards. Because they are powered, active tags can have large memory capacities and may also store shipping manifests and provide sophisticated Semi-Active sensing and timestamp capability. Semi-Active Tag Semi-passive (or semi-active) tags are equipped with a battery to provide power for the integrated circuit(s), but still use backscattered communications to avoid Active a radio transmitter. Semi-passive tags can achieve longer ranges, generally limited by reader receive sensitivity: 10s to as much as 100 meters are realistic. Read reliability is greatly enhanced, since the tag no longer depends on the reader to remain powered. 13
  • RFID System in Operation technology, further discussing how RFID and (System Integration) bar coding work together and introducing the steps required to meet RFID compliance. Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a general term for technology that uses radio At its most basic, an RFID system consists of waves to automatically identify individual items. three components: a tag, an interrogator and RFID has been around since World War Two; software to control the data flowing through however, it was long considered too expensive the system. and too limited to be practical for many The tag, or “transponder”, generates electrical commercial applications until recently. signals that are interpreted by the interrogator, Mandates for its use from major retailers or “reader”. The interrogator not only receives and the US Department of Defense have the signals, but may also activate them within increased the awareness of RFID from the tag. That’s why an interrogator is a multi­ both vendors and users. component system: “transceiver”, RF antenna(s) This increased awareness will likely expand and computer chip. The transceiver activates the uses of RFID technology and, consequently, the tag and receives the information from it via improve the economies of it – thus overcoming the antenna. In some cases, one antenna transmits both earlier objections. the signals to activate the tag and a separate antenna receives the data from the tag. RFID technology in the manufacturing environment offers the potential to enhance the The chip decodes the data before it use of bar coding in several ways. RFID systems is transmitted to the host computer. can withstand extreme heat, cold and even The software transforms the data into information chemical exposure. The tag can be read describing the goods and orders that are through up to two inches of non-metallic debris, represented by the tags. Software also controls including paint, plastic, cloth, wood and concrete. whether data should be written, which tag should RFID tags also increases efficiency because contain the data and initiates the process of direct line-of-site between the tag and the writing data to the tag. reader is not required. Tags, themselves, can be divided into two groups This white paper expands on each of these – active and passive. Active tags contain a battery, topics by providing a basic overview of RFID 14
  • which enables them to transmit data to identify only the manufacturer and product, the transceiver. Passive tags do not contain not the unique item. The bar code on a bread a battery, so they depend on the transceiver wrapper is the same as every other; however, for activation. Both active and passive tags each loaf of bread could have a unique RFID possess either read/write or read-only functionality. tag, making it easier to determine freshness. Read-only tags usually function like licence plates Another key advantage that RFID provides over by identifying the object and pointing to more bar codes is due to the inherent technology. specific information stored in a database. Radio waves travel through most non-metallic Read/write tags allow the information stored on materials, so RFID tags can be embedded in the tag to be edited, locked or completely erased, packaging or encased in protective plastic for which makes them re-usable. Read/write tags weatherproofing and greater durability. RFID also store more information on the tag and tags also have microchips that can store a may not require a database lookup or any unique serial number for every product contact with an external system. manufactured around the world. RFID versus Barcodes Radio Frequency Ranges RFID is not necessarily ‘better’ than bar codes. Just as different radio channels have different The two are different technologies and have frequencies, RFID tags and interrogators have to different applications, which sometimes overlap. be tuned to the same frequency to communicate. The major difference between the two is that Radio waves behave differently at different bar codes depend on line-of-sight technology. frequencies. The most common frequencies That is, a scanner has to have direct contact for RFID systems are low- (around 125 KHz), with the bar code to read it, which means the high- (13.56 MHz) and ultra-high frequency, bar code has to be oriented towards a scanner or UHF (850-900 MHz). Some applications in order to be read. even use microwave (2.45 GHz). Europe uses 868 MHz for UHF, and the U.S. uses 915 MHz. Alternatively, RFID tags can be read anywhere Japan currently does not allow any use of within range of a reader. Bar code labels are the UHF spectrum for RFID. also more fragile than RFID tags. If a bar code label is ripped, soiled or falls off, there is no Because RFID systems generate and radiate way to scan the item. Standard bar codes electromagnetic waves, they are legally classified 15
  • as radio systems. The function of other radio Tag and reader makers are also trying to services must under no circumstances be develop systems that can work at more than one disrupted or impaired by the operation of frequency to overcome the interference issues. RFID systems. It is particularly important Each frequency has different characteristics that to ensure that RFID systems do not interfere make it more useful for specific applications. with nearby radio and television, mobile services Low-frequency tags are ideal for scanning (police, security services, ambulance services, objects with high-water content, such as fruit, industry etc), marine and aeronautical radio at close range. services and mobile telephone. This is because they are less expensive than Governments regulate the power of the ultra high frequency (UHF) tags, use less power interrogators to limit interference with other and are better able to penetrate non-metallic devices. The variety of interrogators available substances. On the other hand, UHF tags might today reflects the variety of environments in be better for scanning boxes of goods as they which they are installed: pass through a bay door into a warehouse. • Portals: Dock doors and transfer tunnels, This is because UHF frequencies typically conveyors, palletisers, etc. that use fixed offer better range and can transfer data faster. devices in which RFID labels are read However, they use more power and are less likely to pass through materials. They also require • Portables: Forklifts, mobile carts, hand-helds, a clear path between the tag and reader. etc. that provide mobility 16
  • Research Activities Research activities in RF and its applications at the Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster. 17
  • Queen’s University Belfast The Institute’s 14,000 m2 headquarters building houses state-of-the-art laboratories, offices and one of the largest RF (microwave and millimetre wave) anechoic chambers in Ireland. It is staffed by 120 academics, senior research staff, post-doctoral fellows, research students and administrators. Among them are 40 highly qualified industrial and academic researchers recruited from around the globe. In addition, TDK - the Japanese electronics company - has located a six person R&D unit in the building. Located at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast, ECIT has received funding from the European Union, Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Employment and Learning, The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Northern Ireland. Information Technology (ECIT) was established ECIT consists of four research clusters: in 2003 to commercialise world-level expertise in a variety of digital communications • High Frequency Electronic Circuits/Antennas; technologies at the School of Electronics, • System-on-Chip; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science • Digital Communications; and at Queen’s University Belfast. • Speech and Vision Systems. Its four research clusters cover areas such It plays a leading R&D role in both hardware and as broadband wireless communications, software in the areas of advanced digital and electronic data security, image and speech communications technology. It provides a rich processing, telecommunications software and mixture of ‘blue-skies’ research and strategic antenna design for mobile communications. industrial related research and development. 18
  • ECIT is already working with a number of Contact ECIT: local companies on RFID, offering expertise, consultancy and collaborative agreements. Enquiries about assistance with It is capable of providing a comprehensive product development contact: range of services customised to customers needs. Mr Conor Quinn MBA Business Development Executive Facilities ECIT, Queen's University Belfast Northern Ireland Science Park The facilities available are of the highest Queen's Road, Queen's Island industrial standard and include calibrated: Belfast BT3 9DT • Vector Network Analysis to 110 GHz www.ecit.qub.ac.uk • Power and frequency to 110 GHz • On wafer probing to 110 GHz • On-Chip Temperature cycling from -65 to 200°C • Noise measurements to 26.5 GHz. • Quasi Optical Measurements to 700 GHz • Large Signal Time Domain Measurements to 40 GHz • Vector Signal Analysis to 40 GHz • 10m Far Field anechoic chamber • 1.5m x 1.5m Near Field Scanner Companies already making use of ECIT facilities include TDK Electronics Ireland, OMMIC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, Astrium EADS and many others. 19
  • University of Ulster bio-inspired systems, intelligent wireless technologies and cognitive robotics. The research is being applied to topics as diverse as intelligent embedded systems, hybrid intelligent machine vision systems, re-configurable computing, hardware-software partitioning, design automation, self-repair of complex embedded systems, robot-robot cooperation, human-robotic collaboration and wireless sensory networks. The work of the group extends from theoretical studies of computational intelligent systems (computational neuroscience) through to the application of the research results in local and national industry. There is strong and fruitful interaction with a range of companies, and substantial emphasis on the exploitation RFID Work within the Intelligent Systems of intellectual property generated by the group. Engineering Laboratory, University of Ulster The group has attracted over £15 million research at Magee funding in recent years. The Intelligent Systems Engineering Laboratory The Wireless Technology Demonstration Centre (ISEL) is a research group within the Faculty of (WTDC), within ISEL, provides a centre-point Engineering on the Magee College campus of for wireless technology research, development the University of Ulster. The group was founded and demonstration. WTDC develops innovative in 1997 and is composed of approximately 45 applications which use wireless technologies academic staff, research associates and in areas within the medical, industrial, research students. commercial and educational domains: wireless ISEL focuses on intelligent systems in the sensory networks, supply chain management, widest sense; including research into a range location based services, positioning systems of intelligent and hybrid technologies, neural and gaming. These demonstrations utilise networks, fuzzy systems, genetic/evolutionary technologies such as RFID, Zigbee, Bluetooth, algorithms, hybrid intelligent systems, reasoning, WiFi and GPS. 20
  • The EpiCentre (Electronics Production and RFID projects include: Innovation Centre), also within ISEL, is a • RFID and Zigbee internal multi-million pound cross-border technology positioning systems: utilises RFID, partnership to enable businesses in the Zigbee and WiFi technologies to implement north-west cross border region to tap into an alternative method for indoor positioning, the expertise of academics, specialised achieved through an integration of Wireless equipment and research facilities. Sensor Networks and RFID technology. EpiCentre is a collaborative venture between the • Active RFID long-range tracking: involves the University of Ulster at Magee, the North West tracking of assets and staff with long range Institute for Further and Higher Education and active RFID technology. The positioning system Letterkenny Institute of Technology and is uses RFID readers and active tags running supported by the EU INTERREG IIIA Programme at 433 MHz. It can achieve read ranges of for Ireland/Northern Ireland. Partner institutions between 30 – 100m depending on the type have invested heavily in facilities and dedicated of antenna used. Some of the benefits personnel at each of the three sites. include improved security and improved efficiency of asset management. The primary goal of EpiCentre is to help stimulate • Consumer RFID & NFC: uses passive tags to innovation and growth by helping businesses in perform predetermined operations automatically the region overcome technological challenges by touching an RFID tag with the RFID and to develop new and innovative products. reader/writer on a mobile phone. Each tag To date EpiCentre has supported over 50 contains data that enables a mobile phone, local client companies with hands on practical with an inbuilt RFID reader, to initiate assistance and technological expertise. a service, such as calling, messaging, Several of these client projects have involved browsing or recording data. expertise in the general area of Wireless • RFID supply chain management: this project Technology including RFID, Zigbee, WiFi and is investigating how RFID has and will continue wireless sensors. to improve industrial supply chain management (SCM) systems. Certain challenges exist in replacing current strategies such as barcode scanning technology with RFID. 21
  • This includes various aspects of RFID SCM from For further details contact: the supplier, to manufacturing/warehousing, to distribution/ logistics, and finally to Prof. Martin McGinnity, Director the retailer. Intelligent Systems Engineering Laboratory, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, • RFID Health Care: focuses on how RFID can University of Ulster at Magee, Northland Road, complement and improve access to hospital Derry, Northern Ireland, BT48 7JL information systems through passive RFID TM.McGinnity@ulster.ac.uk patient tags. Specific challenges addressed +44 (0) 28 7137 5417 include: cost-effective administration of medical assets, enhanced healthcare workflow, reduction of error-prone paper administrative processes, real-time and accurate information systems, and increased productivity. RFID is an invaluable asset in ensuring the quality and safety of perishables by providing visibility into environmental conditions during shipment and storage. This work focuses on investigating how RFID can be utilised for monitoring the condition of temperature- sensitive objects during these stages. 22
  • Case Studies 23
  • Ulster Carpets (Compete) The Company It is the first company in Northern Ireland, perhaps in the UK, to apply an RFID solution Ulster Carpet Mills (Holdings) Limited is a family in manufacturing. Developed in-house by the owned group that has five manufacturing research and development team, PSYLO is a plants and a world wide sales, marketing and significant technological advancement. design network. The largest subsidiary, Ulster Carpet Mills Limited, (UCM) is based in The patented technology enables Ulster Carpets Portadown, Northern Ireland and employs over to exceed the needs of the marketplace, 500 people. It manufactures high quality woven focusing on surpassing colour and design Axminster and Wilton Carpet, and has become capabilities for woven carpets and providing an the world's second largest Axminster producer. enhanced degree of service excellence to clients. Ulster Carpets production facilities are now at The Challenge an unrivalled level of automation and efficiency and allow the organisation to maintain a clear • Reduce waste and renewed focus upon the future direction • Higher loom efficiency of investment to the local Portadown area. • Removal of cost adding operations In essence this revolutionary development clearly illustrates Ulster Carpets commitment Invest Northern Ireland to UK manufacturing and further enhances Intervention the company’s competitiveness on an international platform. RFID project was support by Invest Northern Ireland under the Compete Programme. The Benefits • Reduce waste. • Increase staff productivity. • Better machine utilisation. Ulster Carpets developed an RFID solution in-house including both hardware and software. 24
  • Kilpatrick (PPD) The Company • During development, Kilpatrick discovered that Calor UK used barcodes as a means of Kilpatrick Ltd is a Cookstown based company tracking LPG cylinders and were unaware developing vending systems for use primarily that RFID was a superior alternative. Calor on filling station forecourts. The company is asked Kilpatrick to examine this technology continually seeking to improve its product range area on its behalf. and identify niche areas where the outcome of product development would prove successful. Invest Northern Ireland Intervention The Product / Service • Invest NI’s Technology Advisory Unit (TAU) The company has designed the ‘365’ - a secure, worked with Kilpatrick on its CE Marking self-service 24 hour fuel vending system aimed programme and ensured that the 365 at automating the retailing of fuels (e.g. coal, system complies with EU health and safety charcoal, peat, LPG cylinders etc on petrol station rules and environmental legislation. forecourts, convenience stores and holiday • Detailed guidance on LPG storage regulations parks etc. It will help to eliminate shrinkage of in France was researched and the findings then these theft-prone products as it adopts a range provided to Kilpatrick and its French customers. of secure payment methods thus reducing the In addition, Invest NI assisted in identifying reliance on staff-assisted sales. a local company to equip the 365 system with solar power capability, enabling the The Challenge 365 to be sold into off-grid locations, such as European campsites • To address export markets, Kilpatrick had • TAU sourced information on current worldwide to demonstrate that the 365 system met RFID developments as applied to LPG cylinders. legislative requirements, particularly in the TAU also identified a number of potential area of product safety and especially in the technology partner companies in Europe EU region and North America. • Kilpatrick had to familiarise itself with LPG storage regulations in France in order to secure sales to this market region. 25
  • The Benefits • The company can now CE mark its product and is familiar with the requirements for similar marking of any future systems. • Concerns raised by their French customers were addressed and the associated market can confidently be targeted. Kilpatrick identified an RFID technology partner from Switzerland and implemented this technology within its product. This led to a significant business opportunity, which generated business worth many millions of pounds. 26
  • Ashdale Engineering (SMART) The Company Development of this has been kick-started by a Smart Award from Invest NI. Ashdale has Ashdale Engineering Ltd has emerged as developed Ashtrak as a multi- functional asset Northern Ireland’s leading company for industrial management tool for use in any commercial automation solutions and is moving forward environment requiring timed auto identification with an ever improving and impressive array with task lists and user prompts. of services and products. One particular application has linked health and Formed in 1977 with two employees and safety inspection and reporting requirements representing suppliers of photoelectrics, of local council play park maintenance to staff emergency lighting and fire alarms, the company management and asset maintenance by using now represents some 30 principals and has added RFID tags and hand-held terminals. The back a service and commissioning department, office function is automatically updated and a systems division, and an in-house training facility. easily configurable and can be modified by the departmental manager to reflect daily Ashdale has been able to count on its requirements whilst retaining the integrity of established list of ‘blue chip’ customers to the information for possible future legal purposes. fuel natural expansion while basing its strategy on understanding customers’ problems and The data collected is easily synchronised providing a complete solution with continuing with the central system on return to base. support and customer service. Auto identification provides full timed traceability as all pieces of equipment have been tagged The Product with either RFID tags or barcodes. If the information collected indicates a need for Through the company’s pro-active approach to further action such as a maintenance activity new technology, mobile computing was brought this can be automatically structured to generate to the forefront and bespoke applications have an action list. A full checking history is available been developed for customers. A need for an for each item, or each checker should it be “off the shelf” application to address all aspects necessary to confirm particular events possibly of equipment inspection has been identified. related to a health and safety issue or an employee activity log. 27
  • The Challenge Invest Northern Ireland Intervention Ashtrak can be paperless and still retain full reporting and accountability. It can be tailored The project was supported by Invest NI to suit any asset control requirement using under the SMART Award Scheme. the latest technology and integrated into most existing software. Development of this product was supported by Invest Northern Ireland under the SMART Programme. It can be configured to use a wide range of bar code and RFID technology ranging from conventional bar codes to the two dimensional info dot which contains up to 20 times the information of a traditional bar code. Equipment and communications have also progressed so that rugged scanners, signature capture (for acceptance or authorisation applications), Bluetooth (for remote applications), GPR/GPRS (for very remote applications requiring location information), and large screens (for lots of information) can all feature in a typical application to reflect specific requirements and improve the functionality of the software. 28
  • Invest NI and R&D Financial Assistance The following Invest Northern Ireland R&D assistance is available. Please contact your Client Executive prior applying to any assistance. 29
  • START Programme The Start programme aims to increase the shorter if required. Projects are usually either amount of industrial research undertaken 'company only' projects or partnership projects, by Northern Ireland based companies either involving a company and a local university on their own or in partnership with (or universities) and/or another company. Northern Ireland universities In very exceptional circumstances, 'university only' projects can be supported if no Northern Ireland How it Works industrial partner can be found, the proposed A Start project is a planned period of research research is relevant to Northern Ireland industry that aims to: and the research is multi sector in its application. • Gain new knowledge which will be used in the development of new products, processes or Eligibility services The programme is open to Northern Ireland • Bring about a significant improvement in based companies, which are Invest NI clients existing products, processes or services and Northern Ireland universities. The programme is managed on an open call basis and provides financial assistance in the form START Support for RFID of discretionary grants, loans or investments. START support may be applicable to assist The rate of assistance will not normally exceed industrial relevant research projects involving 50 per cent of eligible project costs and there is innovative ‘blue sky’ research on RFID technology. no maximum project size. A typical Start project will run for three years, but can be longer or 30
  • Compete Programme The overall objective of the Compete Eligibility programme is to help local companies become more competitive by providing Compete is open to Invest NI client companies only. support for developing innovative market If you are not a client company please contact led products and manufacturing processes. your Regional Invest NI office. Compete is open to Northern Ireland businesses engaged in manufacturing - or about to engage How it Works in manufacturing, and to internationally Compete is run in two distinct phases: tradable service businesses. Phase I - provides an opportunity for Compete Support for RFID businesses to plan the project in some detail and present a complete proposal to Invest NI. Compete support may be applicable to assist new Support is at a rate of up to 50 per cent product or process development projects involving of eligible costs to a maximum assistance innovative applications of RFID technology. of £15,000. Phase II - support is up to 40 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum of £250,000 (less any phase I support). 31
  • Product and Process Development Programme The Product and Process Development (PPD) • Sub-contract Programme is designed to support smaller • Intellectual property (patents, trademarks etc) Northern Ireland businesses. This programme • Materials (consumed during the production aims to encourage small businesses in developing of a prototype or during tests/trials) innovative new market-led products and/or manufacturing/production processes. • Trials and testing The grant is dependent on the nature of Expertise is available within Invest NI to the company and the product/process costs. assist companies to draw up a project plan Maximum grant for this type of project will (including definition of project costs). not exceed £35,000. A grant of up to 40 per cent will be considered PPD is open to Invest NI client companies on eligible project costs which may include: with 50 or less employees only. If you are not a client company please contact your Regional • Market/technical research Invest NI office. The programme is open to • In-house costs (labour, production, Northern Ireland businesses engaged in technical, design) manufacturing - or about to engage in • Consultancy manufacturing, and to internationally tradable service businesses. 32
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership Programme Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe’s Benefits for the knowledge base leading knowledge transfer programme, helping businesses improve their competitiveness and Through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships productivity through better use of the knowledge, academics are able to: technology and skills that reside within the UK • Develop business-relevant teaching materials; knowledge base. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is intentionally flexible in delivery, allowing • Identify new research themes and projects to vary in length between 12 and undergraduate and postgraduate projects; 36 months and the knowledge base partners • Publish high quality research papers; eligible to participate include universities, • Contribute to the Research Assessment further education institutions, research and Exercise (RAE) and rating of their department. technology organisations and public sector research institutes. Benefits for the Associate Benefits for the company partner Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can: Business performance outputs vary considerably • Help graduates enhance their career prospects from case to case, given the rich variety of projects, by providing an opportunity to manage a however the latest information shows that, challenging project central to a company’s on average, the business benefits that can be strategic development and long term growth; expected from a single KTP project are: • Provide top class training and development in business management and leadership skills; • An increase of over £290,000 in annual profits before tax; • Offer an excellent chance of permanent employment at the end of the Partnership • Creation of eight genuine new jobs; (over 75% of Associates are offered • An increase in the skills of existing staff. employment on completion of their project and overall 60% accept). 33
  • SMART Award The overall objective of Smart Award is to • Smart stage 2 – if you win a Smart stage 1 stimulate the creation of new, innovative award and successfully complete the project businesses and to help existing small businesses you may apply for a Smart stage 2 award improve their competitiveness by developing for further support to assist with the new products and processes to the benefit development of a pre-production prototype. of the national economy. Smart stage 2 awards are non-competitive, and assistance is available at up to 40% of There are three types of assistance aimed the eligible project costs, up to a maximum at supporting different types of research of £150,000. Assistance is paid retrospectively and development projects: after expenditure is incurred and defrayed. Projects must take at least six months, • Smart Micro – is competitive and assists and no more than 36 months, to complete. individuals or micro firms (up to 10 employees) to develop a simple low cost Smart stage 2 offers a streamlined application prototype of an innovative product or process to Smart stage 1 winners continuing their process with the project lasting 6-12 months. product/process development, provided that Support is made available at 50% of eligible the application is made within 6 months project costs. The maximum award is of completion of the Smart stage 1 project. £10,000 and is normally paid quarterly Please note that assistance under Smart against claims submitted. stage 2 is not automatic and is dependent on a negotiated process of approval. • Smart stage 1 – is competitive and assists individuals and small firms (up to 50 employees) to carry out a technical and commercial feasibility study lasting 6-18 months. Support is made available at 75% of the eligible project costs. The maximum award is £45,000. If justification can be demonstrated one third is paid up front to the winners and the remainder is normally paid quarterly against claims submitted. 34
  • Managment Information System Programme (MIS) The MIS Scheme aims to improve the quality What are the costs? of management information through the use of Information and Communications Companies with up to 50 employees, Technology (ICT). Typically this requires the potential funding is up to 40%. implementation of ICT solutions to improve Companies with more than 50 employees business processes and automating the funding will normally be reduced to 25%. flow of information through the business. (eg. financial, CRM, production, ERP, MRP, Maximum MIS expenditure is 40% of document management, etc) £140,000 (£56,000) for companies with up to 50 employees; 25% of £140,000 (£35,000) How it Works? for companies with over 50 employees. Following an initial company visit, a nominated Eligibility ICT advisor compiles a report detailing the costs of the proposed project along with The MIS programme is open to Invest NI recommendations as to its viability. If the clients only. application is successful, a letter of offer is issued to the company and Invest NI monitors RFID Support the spend once the project gets underway. MIS support may be applicable to a client wishing • Software costs to implement an RFID system. The MIS support • Implementation costs could cover the software, implementation and • Training in the use of the software training (of the software) for an RFID system. (Hardware costs can not be funded) 35
  • Business Improvement Training Programme The Business Improvement Training Programme for significant improvement in performance. can help companies to improve business Companies seeking support for these projects performance by providing practical and must undertake a Business Health Check within financial support for training and development six months following agreement. The level of activities aimed at raising the skills levels support will be negotiated on an individual of managers and workforces. company basis. Benefits What are the Costs? By improving the skills of managers and The costs involved are those associated other employees, companies can benefit with the training and development activities. in a number of ways: Training needs are determined by the company and support available may be both practical • Increased productivity and financial. Practical help includes advice • Improved products and services and guidance on best practice, implementing • Reduction in waste and overheads training infrastructures and training linked to national/industry recognised standards. • Increased profit and turnover • A more flexible and motivated workforce Financial support is available towards the cost of: • Course fees How it Works • PAYE wages/salary costs – agreed support Companies seeking support must have undertaken level applies to all eligible salary/wages costs an Invest NI Business Health Check and are for companies with up to 250 employees. required to submit a training programme, For companies employing in excess of 250 together with costs, which is linked to improvement employees the support level applies to 50% projects contained in an integrated action plan of the salary/wages costs agreed with the company. • Travel and subsistence Assistance may be available for company • Training materials projects which can demonstrate the potential • Mentor support for small businesses 36
  • Eligibility Support is aimed at companies involved in manufacturing or tradeable services that are engaged in exporting or import substitution, and, hotels and licensed guest inns certified by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Where/When Does the Programme Run? The Business Improvement Training Programme runs continuously and applications for support from eligible companies may be submitted at any time. 37
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