Deloitte joins Smart Active Label Consortium

Deloitte has joined the Smart Active Label Consortium (SAL-C) on a global basis. The SAL-C is an international interest group, dedicated to promoting and developing the use of smart active labels (SALs). SALs are defined as thin, flexible RFID tags that contain an integrated circuit and power source. Two other types of RFID tags have been available for many years, a simple, inexpensive, non-battery (passive) tag, and a powerful, but relatively expensive battery assisted (active) tag. SALs offer performance at 90% of that generated by an active tag, while priced at less than 10% of an active device.

Since the recent announcements from Wal*Mart, Tesco, and the Department of Defence stating they will be asking their top suppliers to tag pallets and cases, many companies in the retail and consumer products industry have commenced serious trials with RFID. As a result of these trials it has become apparent that a passive tag will not always be effectively read on pallets and cases. In some instances the tags are not all read, which produces less than 100% accuracy. In other situations metals and liquids affect the performance, which leads to the requirement for serious operational changes or use of expensive active tags. SALs can overcome these problems, and also offer increased functionality compared to passive tags, for example the ability to track temperature changes on products over time. This application may be effectively used with fresh foods in grocery, or blood samples in the health care markets, where the product needs to be kept in a defined temperature range.

SALs are gaining rapid acceptance with leading thinkers in the RFID industry due to improvements in the technology used. Until recently industry acceptance of paper batteries used in active tags has been limited, as the battery has only been able to produce a limited life performance of approximately 12 to 18 months, with tag prices as high as US$5.00. Now tag prices have fallen to less than US$1.00 and tests on new innovative paper batteries are being tested that run for more than three years.

As part of their new membership Deloitte recently hosted the UK meeting of the Smart Active Label Consortium (SAL-C). This consortium meets on a regular basis to discuss the latest innovations and developments surrounding semi-active tags. Attendees at the Deloitte UK SAL-C conference, heard about:

  • The new VarioSens Temperature Sensing tag from KSW Microtech AG, which can be attached to sensing devices to monitor issues such as temperature change, mechanical tamper, humidity levels, light change, radiation, and chemical gases.
  • Power Paper Ltd gave a demonstration of the new PowerID semi active tag, where the latest paper battery offers a life span of up to 5 years, and enables a read range operation at more than 9 metres, while working within the restrictive European power regulations of just 0.5mWatt.

Tony Hodgson, partner at Deloitte and head of the UK RFID services division commented; We were delighted to host the SAL-C meeting. We have been looking at a smart-active tag for some time, but until now the price and performance just werent up to scratch. When we looked at the recent developments available from companies that are connected with the SAL-C we have been highly encouraged, and now see the semi-active tag taking its place as part of an RFID solution.

Baruch Levanon, Chairman of the SAL-C commented; The market is searching for the right RFID solution, but sometimes finds that the only way to achieve a successful result is to use a battery assisted active tag. At an average cost of $20 a unit, active tags can only been used in small volumes and do not satisfy the requirement for tagging many millions of pallets and cases. We believe that SALs will now produce the desired performance and are available at a price which will produce a good return on investment. We are experiencing a fast increase in our membership, and we were very pleased to recently welcome Deloitte to our consortium.

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