RFID Demonstration Tests in Europe Show Improved Performance

Reva and Impinj tout "performance breakthrough" in 36-door operational distribution center technology demo, read rates up to 99 percent in dense environment

Reva and Impinj tout "performance breakthrough" in 36-door operational distribution center technology demo, read rates up to 99 percent in dense environment

Chelmsford, MA — October 17, 2006 — Radio frequency identification (RFID) solution providers Reva Systems and Impinj are reporting "breakthrough results" in technology demonstration tests conducted at an operational distribution center in Unna, Germany.

Reva provides RFID network infrastructure providers, and Impinj offers semiconductor and RFID technology. The jointly conducted tests in Unna were a follow-on to the multi-vendor RFID technology demonstrations conducted by European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Task Group 34 (TG34) to improve the performance of RFID reader deployments in Europe

In tests conducted by Reva and Impinj at the working distribution center, 36 pallets holding over 2,200 tagged, real-world consumer goods were loaded and simultaneously transported at full speed through 36 adjacent loading dock doors onto docked trucks, with the goal of measuring tag read performance.

"Compelling Results"

All the RFID tags were powered by an Impinj Monza Gen 2 chip. Each of the 36 dock doors were monitored by Impinj Speedway RFID readers, all centrally controlled by a single Reva Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP) appliance operating in conjunction with a Reva centralized LBT Sensor.

The system complied with proposed ETSI "listen before talk" (LBT) requirements. Tags passed through the reader antennae field of view for roughly one to one-and-a-half seconds, and the runs were repeated several times. The tests demonstrated average tag read rates between 98 and 99 percent, representing what Reva and Impinj called "breakthrough performance" in a dense-reader environment that furthered the viability of RFID adoption in Europe.

Dr. Chris Diorio, chairman and co-founder of Impinj, noted that previous European RFID trials have never scaled even close to 36 simultaneous readers. While the TG34 demonstration was actually designed to mainly focus on issues surrounding RFID channel selection, "the 36-door performance scores are the most compelling results to come out of that testing," Diorio said. "Most European trials have only supported a handful of simultaneous readers, and inventory reliability has always been significantly lower."

European Challenge

Europe's RFID regulations have hampered the deployment of UHF RFID systems at large sites where many readers would operate in close proximity. In the United States, RFID technology operates in a generous 26MHz frequency band from 902MHz to 928MHz. In Europe, however, this band is occupied by GSM phones and other devices, so RFID is relegated to a much smaller 3MHz band between 865MHz and 868MHz. This smaller frequency band combined with the number of RFID readers operating simultaneously in close quarters required the TG34 technology demonstrations to focus on channel allocation and reader synchronization methods to ensure dense-reader performance.

"This testing clearly shows the benefits of centralized RFID reader control," said David Husak, chief technology officer and co-founder of Reva Systems. Other systems at the operational distribution center demonstration used localized reader control methods.

"Only Reva and Impinj attempted the 36-door trial using centralized control, and the results were excellent," Husak said. "We demonstrated full system-level operation under worst-case conditions with inventory reliability close to 100 percent. These tests expand the global reach of UHF RFID solutions by conclusively putting to rest the concerns that the European regulations would hinder adoption of the technology at a commercial scale."

Reva Systems is headquartered in Chelmsford, Mass. Impinj is based in Seattle.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Contemplating RFID? Here are three critical questions to answer before embarking on a radio frequency identification initiative. Read "Recognizing Real RFID Adoption Potential," in the February/March 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— A recent independent study revealed that Wal-Mart customers are finding the items they wanted in stock more often due to the retailer's use of RFID technologies when compared to control stores. Read more in "Wal-Mart Achieving Improved On-shelf Availability with RFID, Study Finds" on SDCExec.com.