Army wants any time, anywhere RFID tag

GovWorks running buy for tags equipped with satellite and cellular capabilties

By Bob Brewin

The Army wants some help in developing next generation radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with built in global wireless connectivity that will allow the service to locate shipping containers any time, anywhere.

The Army currently uses active, powered tags from Savi Technology to track shipping containers worldwide, with active RFID tags and readers serving as the backbone of the Defense Department's In-Transit Visibility (ITV) system, supporting the massive logistics effort for U.S forces in Iraq.

Last month the Army more than doubled the value of its active RFID tag and reader contract with Savi from $207.9 million to $424.5 million, but the current generation of active tags can only provide ITV when a container equipped with the Savi tag is scanned by a tag reader.

The Army Logistics Transformation Agency (LTA) wants industry to develop new tags with built in wireless capabilities of communicating globally, and has tapped GovWorks, the Department of Interior's Federal Acquisition Center to run procurement (due out Dec. 9) for Next Generation Phase II RFID tags which could incorporate a number of wireless technologies.

Earlier this year the Defense Logistics Agency, working with LTA tested Phase I next generation active RFID tags developed by Ocean Systems Engineering Corporation, NAL Research and Savi, which had built-n capability to communicate over the Irdium satellite system.

The prototype Phase I tag also packed on-board GPS receivers which provided geo-location capabilities. Mark Liberman (cq), a management specialists at the Defense Distribution Center in Susquehanna, Pa. said at the time of the test, "The prototype tags function just as the current RFID tags but with one added benefit ' it phones home from any position around the world.'

Logistics management specialist Jeff Fee of the LTA said tags capable of satellite communication 'will further enhance our in-transit visibility capabilities on a global scale.'

GovWorks, when it releases its Phase II solicitation next month, says it wants contractors to develop and test additional prototypes capable of global wireless networking via satellite as well as built in cellular telephone technology. The winning contractor will also be asked to evaluate the use of an internal container tag with ultra wide band (UWB) wireless technology to provide 'in the box: visibility of container contents.

GovWorks said it plans to award a single five year, indefinite quantity, and indefinite delivery contract for development of the Phase II tag.

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