Archive for November, 2008

Asset tracking in space?

Friday, November 21st, 2008

NASA plans to use RFID technology in space sometime in the near future. Even if the infamous $100,000 tool bag that floated into space this week from the International Space Station carried an RFID tag, the technology wouldn’t have helped in this case. However, the tool disappearance demonstrates perfectly the asset tracking capabilities of RFID. If that tool bag disappeared at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA would know exactly where it is.


That’s the entire goal of the recent Phase 2 RFID rollout at Kennedy Space Center. By the end of February, NASA will be able to track in real time not only high dollar assets, but thousands of tool items in NASA’s instrument library.  It used to take about three hours to complete a full tool inventory when Boeing workers finished a job on the launch pad. During that time, the work of about 100 NASA employees was on hold. With RFID, NASA and Boeing workers can account for all tools immediately upon conclusion of the job.


What about using RFID in space? “We get asked that question a lot,” said Phil Lintereur, a CAPPS fluids, avionics and propulsion manager for Boeing at Kennedy Space Center. “That will definitely be one of the thrusts for the future. Numerous NASA people have asked us about that and I’d say we’ll be pursuing that in the future.”




Money continues to flow into RFID; ThingMagic is latest to benefit

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

It’s a good sign for RFID technology that money continues to flow into the sector even during such poor economic times. ThingMagic today announced a strategic investment and technology development agreement with In-Q-Tel, the independent strategic investment firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the broader U.S. intelligence community.


The deal follows Alien’s $38 million round of funding announced in early October, and the $3 million in funding secured by Advanced ID this week.


“ThingMagic is a critical addition to our portfolio of wireless technologies,” said Ben Levitan, Partner at In-Q-Tel. “We review thousands of innovative business plans but invest in only those few that address the most difficult technology challenges faced by both commercial enterprises and the national security community. ThingMagic’s innovative RFID technology and research on wireless sensors offers great promise for both the private and public sectors.”


In a release, ThingMagic CEO Tom Grant said the deal will enable the company to expand and customize its RFID reader platform and product form factors, and eventually enable the use of RFID and sensors in more innovative public and private sector asset tracking, supply chain, inventory control and loss prevention applications.


NASA unveils plans for Phase 3 RFID rollout

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Two weeks ago we addressed Phase 2 of NASA’s rollout of RFID technology at the Kennedy Space Center. In an interview with RFID 24-7 this week, Boeing officials said that Phase 2 — which not only calls for tracking high dollar assets but all tool items in NASA’s instrument library — will be complete by the end of February.

Boeing will consume about 4,000 active RFID tags for the project, and about 65 RFID readers. The RFID tags are about the size of a quarter and therefore do not interfere with the operation of the torque wrenches and other tools. NASA is using active tags so they will not interfere with flight hardware on the launch pad.

Phase 3 of the project, to be rolled out next year, will extend the tool inventory management system to include tool calibration. In addition, an application will be rolled out to deal with hazardous chemical protocols. NASA employees working with various hazardous chemicals like anhydrous ammonia will eventually wear active RFID tags so their whereabouts can be tracked in the event of an emergency evacuation.

“That will be our big push,” said Phil Lintereur, a CAPPS fluids, avionics and propulsion manager for Boeing at Kennedy Space Center. “Not only tool inventory and calibration but obviously to enhance our personnel safety.”