Realizing RFID

Although expected a lot, the actual implementation of RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) ​​in 2005 did not improve significantly. The new standard, high price and lack of overall application model have prevented companies from accessing this highly promoted technology.

Although expected a lot, the actual implementation of RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) ​​in 2005 did not improve significantly. The new standard, high price and lack of overall application model have prevented companies from accessing this highly promoted technology.

The pioneering companies deploying RFID quickly realized that the application of RF (radio frequency) still needed many other things, not just tags (tags) and reading devices, such as need for filtering software. RFID data to retrieve the necessary information and move to the appropriate business channel.

Exit for RFID already. Middleware software from well-known companies and low-cost hardware recently developed based on the new Gen2 standard (see "Gen2") has brought RFID back into the plan of many companies. company. The new product generation allows companies in addition to conventional asset management and warehouse monitoring to connect new event streams with business processes.

Radio processing

RFID networks can be classified into three main parts: hardware, including reading devices, tags and related RF components; connecting middleware and processing components; and API library for data transfer to business applications. In particular, RFID's middleware layer is the most complicated part, more than hardware.

To reduce latency, the processing component should be designed as close to the RFID reader as possible - for example, at the warehouse instead of at the data center in the office, meaning that each warehouse should have its own processing component. The processing component must be able to work at the same time with multiple readers while analyzing and processing multiple data streams at high speed.

Next, the event management component will screen the noise. By using pattern filtering and matching rules, it can minimize "junk" (inappropriate information) before the data reaches the corporate network.

Finally, the API library enables the transfer of RFID data to business applications, programmable devices and other import / export systems in the production line. The main means to communicate with these devices is the ALE (Application Level Events) specification. Originally developed as part of the Savant application of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Auto-ID Center, ALE has become a popular standard and used by many middleware manufacturers for RFID. Currently, ALE is sponsored by EPCglobal (a group that manages standard organizations and supply chains) and is part of the EPCglobal Network with the purpose of EPC data connection (Electronic Product Code - product code). low-end electronics) with high-end business systems.

The core of ALE is built on SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). The application can call processing components through ALE without having to worry about network protocols and device specifications.

In addition to integrating multiple EPC readings, ALE also offers a number of benefits. For example, ALE makes it easy to filter out cards from a specific manufacturer or certain area in the warehouse.

Most importantly, ALE is not dependent on hardware and manufacturers, making it easy to upgrade and solve program "hooks" to share reader resources for business applications.

Handling event flow

ALE is not the only tool needed to complete RFID infrastructure. Handling low-level RFID data blocks to make them meaningful at higher levels is not an easy task, and it is not something that you can rely on processing capability in active monitoring software. business activity (BAM - business activity monitoring).

ESP software (event stream processing) and CEP (complex event processing) is the solution to this problem. Although CEP-based solutions have been around for a long time, mainly in military or government applications, commercial deployments have just begun in recent years.

ESP products such as Progress for RFID from Progress Software and StreamBase Systems' Stream Engine Processing can combine RFID and business systems to handle real-time events. For example, the ESP system can inform managers that an important order needs to be processed urgently and that the goods are waiting for warehousing, allowing faster orders to be met. Although dealing with the priority of ripe fruit parcels at loading stations or supermarkets, ESP is able to adjust the business process quickly. Traditional data analysis methods have too large delays, unable to meet the real-time requirements of RFID data.

The most interesting thing about ESP is that it does not require changes to existing systems. ESP can work with transaction processing systems, contact the business system by email service. As the cost of RFID implementation decreases and card data becomes richer, the scope of application will increase.

Gen2

Perhaps the most important factor promoting the popularity of RFID is the emergence of Gen2 - officially the EPCglobal Class-1 Generation-2 UHF RFID Protocol for Communications - the standard protocol for transmitting EPC (Electronic Product Code). ).

Although the Gen2 standard was approved in late 2004, it was not until mid-2005 that hardware designs supported this standard appeared. A few months later the production actually started, long after the first RFID wave used standard Class 0 and Class 1 hardware.

In theory, Gen2 has many advantages. In addition to providing a common standard, Gen2 also offers higher read speeds (4.5 times the Class 1 standard) and a wider range of operations. Gen2 also applies new algorithms to avoid conflict to improve accuracy and reliability.

The Gen2 card can hold more data, has a flexible memory size, password security and has the function of removing the thread circulating at the reader, giving you more possibilities. The Gen2 card also supports international bandwidth regulations, enabling global collaboration and ISO approval.

Gen2 has become the most common RFID standard, supported by many manufacturers.However, Gen2 may not be the final EPC standard.EPCglobal specifications such as ALE need to be refined.Anyway, the emergence of Gen2 also makes it easier to deploy RFID.

System integration

Building RFID infrastructure not only programmed to use ALE software but also the RFID reader hardware interface. So even the lowest level implementation is not an easy job. A solution to simplify integration and ensure data consistency is to combine various middleware tools and system platforms.

In terms of RFID network management, Sun Microsystems released an important update in February this year: Sun Java System RFID Software 3.0. This package includes Sun Java System RFID Event Manager, Sun Java System RFID Information Server, development toolkit and control components.

The Information Server component provides support for reading devices and application communication services, while Event Manager controls event handling to filter input data. Most importantly, this package provides excellent distributed error handling capabilities, important features that ensure the fault tolerance of RFID while working.

The new version includes the API library that handles reader and printer functions. Another important point is to add support for Java ME (formerly J2ME) to embed intelligent processing capabilities directly into the device, a crucial step to creating smart readers and devices The ability to communicate with other automated devices without the central server system. In addition, Sun also provides support for both ALE and EPC-IS communication (EPCglobal Information Services) to exchange data between trading partners, as well as support for AII automatic ID systems ( SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure.

As a component of SAP's NetWeaver application, AII provides mySAP Business Suite users with the ability to integrate RFID data directly, which is useful in supply chain and warehouse management applications. AII has good event management features and supports a variety of modern and traditional devices, such as bar codes, PLC (programmable logic controller) and Bluetooth. Other tools, like Auto-ID Cockpit, help warehouse managers monitor the status of orders.

SAP's support for AII is also included in the recently updated software package Any Anywhere 2.0 by iAnywhere, a Sybase subsidiary. This package provides the same middleware platform as Sun, including Site Manager and Component Manager components, but lacks the ability to deploy directly on the device.

However, the basic solution is not enough for large-scale projects (company level). Customers need to upgrade to Sybase RFID Enterprise 2.0 package, including RFID Anywhere and complete event management, data analysis and business process integration tools. This combined product suite is built on an SOA architecture, providing good development tools such as the Microsoft Visual Studio extension for generating system code, RFID network simulation tools and the ability to connect to multiple Reader interface, sensor and controller.

To expand the market, SAP has recently partnered with Intermec (RFID device maker) to target small and medium-sized customers with affordable RFID solutions. There are also a number of other major middleware providers in the market, such as ConnecTerra, which has recently been acquired by BEA, and IBM with WebSphere RFID Premise Server (see "RFID Infrastructure Provider" table).

INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPLIES RFID

Participating in the RFID movement along with brand names will help preserve your investment in the future. Use standard compliant middleware and hardware that can upgrade firmware to support new standards.

CODE OF CODE

Intermec
infoworld.com/4015

Production of RFID coding and printing equipment;EasyCoder product line topped the product group;Support Gen2.

Paxar
infoworld.com/4017

Having a reputation in the field of manufacturing RFID encoded printers and barcodes.

Zebra Tehcnologies
infoworld.com/4016

Produce a variety of printers / encoders that can upgrade firmware;Integrated reader supported by ThingMagic partner.

READER

Allen Technology
infoworld.com/4018 Provide a free Gen2 reader when purchasing an RFID Symbol card
infoworld.com/4019 Produce a variety of hardware, including fixed and portable readers; There is a product package for ThingMagic business
infoworld.com/4020Mercury reader product line supports Gen2 and previous standards;There are many categories that meet different deployment situations

MIDDLEWARE

BEA
infoworld.com/4027

WebLogic RFID Products family has many features including device management, event management and deployment packages.

IBM
infoworld.com/4021

WebShpere RFID Premises Server 1.1 connects devices and monitors;Support EPC-IS.

Savi
infoworld.com/4022

Tight integrated hardware and software solutions;SmartChain platform provides fast deployment solutions for businesses.

Sun Microsystems
infoworld.com/4023

Java System RFID Software 3.0 provides the API library for device management, events, monitoring and deployment.

HANDLING OF THE COMPREHENSIVE EVENTS

Progress Software
infoworld.com/4024

Complex event management;High scalability;Adapt ALEStreambase Systems
infoworld.com/4028Corporate-level event handling software

Signals are not clear

Although the list of hardware and software is getting longer, don't rush: the RFID market is still stubborn. Don't be convinced by suppliers. If you intend to deploy RFID in the present time, be prepared to face the problem of device compatibility, faulty software, the numbering standard needs to be improved and the security risks to be overcome. .

Compared to middleware, most of the first generation of reader hardware are not "smart" enough. When the new generation of readers adds more advanced processing features, the burden of the middleware class will be reduced. The focus will focus on shaking hands between the RFID infrastructure and the business system.

While RFID is not as popular as bar codes, it is best to plan for future deployment of RFID. By investing in a scalable system and adapting to future application models, your investment today will be preserved with the next and future RF wave.

RFID application company model

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