Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Trimble RFID reader lets tags be checked across transport spectrum

Steve Rogerson
October 7, 2015
 
Trimble has introduced a rugged, handheld computer with integrated UHF RFID capability designed to read both the rail-industry specific AEI automatic equipment identification tags and the EPC electronic product code tags used worldwide.
 
North America and some specific international markets use a UHF RFID tag system that is unique to the rail industry – AEI tags. The Juno T41 R-AEI is claimed to provide best-in-class read range, power and battery life to reading both AEI and the standard EPC tags simultaneously, so tagged rail cars and cargo such as exposed shipping pallets can be tracked across the transportation spectrum, regardless of tag standard.
 
"Trimble's fundamental focus for the rail industry is to provide solutions that drive agility, improve efficiency and provide better visibility into operations to maximise productivity," said Jim Sheldon, general manager of California-based Trimble's mobile computer division. "With the introduction of the Juno T41 R-AEI, we are now expanding our broad range to include a powerful field computer that can provide flexibility, connectivity and real-time business intelligence to the rail industry RFID tracking and asset management."
 
The AEI reader allows mobile workers to record, see and act on data in their hands in real time, instead of waiting on instruction from a back office that has received data remotely from a traditional fixed location reader dependent on rail cars moving past.
 
Mobile workers can stand as far away as 2.4m to read an AEI tag and more than 3.5m to read EPC tags. This range allows safety requirements to be met while still providing the flexibility for workers on foot walking near rail cars. It includes GSM, CDMA, Wifi and Bluetooth technology, which allows for instant connectivity between the worker in the field and back-office management.
 
The device can read tags in any direction or orientation where the reader is pointed. It offers a customised power transmission up to +30dBm (1W) for RFID collection and reading applications. It includes enhanced GPS technology for accuracy of one to two metres for use with UHF RFID.
 
Not only a rail RFID reader, it is also a handheld computer designed to provide the field computing power necessary to manage a wide variety of work requirements. With either a Microsoft Windows or Android operating system, the handheld computer can be used with rail business applications already in place.
 
With its 11cm sunlight-readable, Gorilla Glass capacitive display screen and 32Gbyte flash memory, it enables mobile workers in the rail yard to fill out forms, read and write documents and instructions, make notes, take pictures or videos and send them in real time. Users can share and retrieve data seamlessly from anywhere in the rail yard with wireless connectivity.
 
A software development kit and APIs assist with integration of the handheld computer into company software applications. Secure business applications can run on the device and the Android version can run third-party applications designed for Android 4+ level products.
 
With an IP68 rating, the model meets requirements for dust and water protection and also military-grade standards of ruggedness for drops, temperature, altitude, humidity extremes, vibration, chemical exposure and shock. In addition, it can operate in environments from -30 to +60ËšC.