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 user 2009-09-25 at 11:10:29 am Views: 86
  • #22579
    Lexmark Integrates RFID Solution With Toner Cartridge Based Laser Printer
    has unveiled a new monochrome laser printer with toner cartridges that
    also has built-in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.The
    device, which is being marketed as a solution to help manufacturing
    businesses track and tag their assets, can print RFID labels that
    provide real-time visibility, as well as regular office documents.

    as an add-on accessory, the RFID option replaces a drawer on the
    Lexmark T654 monochrome laser printer, which uses toner
    cartridges.”Lexmark’s newest RFID solution is leading-edge technology
    that helps our customers in key vertical markets, such as manufacturing
    and healthcare, to reduce errors and streamline processes,” said Marty
    Canning, vice-president of the company.”In addition, customers can also
    use the device to print and manage their everyday business documents,
    eliminating the need for and costs associated with operating multiple,
    single-use devices.”Meanwhile, IT Pro has praised the C736dn office
    laser printer for the large capacity of its toner cartridges.

    Lexmark expands radio frequency ID business, sees growth opportunities
    to take a larger piece of an expanding market, Lexmark International
    recently introduced a new generation of its RFID, or radio frequency
    identification, printing device.While most often associated with
    package tracking and inventory management, RFID is becoming a key
    technology in many areas as it has evolved rapidly over the last
    decade. It does everything from operating keyless entry devices on
    vehicles to helping law offices keep track of files.

    RFID uses
    what’s called tags that include an integrated circuit and antenna that
    can broadcast their locations. Unlike most products that contain
    barcodes, each RFID tag has a unique serial number, allowing people to
    find that exact item. And because it broadcasts a frequency, the tags
    don’t have to be viewed in a direct line of sight like is required for
    extracting data from a bar code with a scanner.

    RFID reading
    devices pick up the frequencies when tags are nearby and then send that
    unique data to data management systems. For instance, a pallet full of
    goods that enters, say, a Wal-Mart distribution center has an RFID tag
    that updates an inventory system to let workers know those goods are in
    that location.That type of inventory management is what RFID has become
    known for, but it has far more applications, Lexmark developers say,
    and that’s what the company is aiming for with its newest offering.”The
    big boom has yet to come” in the market for RFID, said Eric Calvert,
    Lexmark’s worldwide product marketing manager.

    Lexmark’s entry
    new RFID printing option is the third such solution from the company
    for the market.In 2007, it introduced a standalone RFID printer. A year
    later, it released an RFID option that is effectively a sealed paper
    tray with all the technology inside that could just be added to the
    T64x family of printers.

    In late July, the company released a
    new tray that can be added to the T654 family.The new RFID tray option
    also expanded the possibilities for customers. It now allows customers
    to position tags both horizontally and vertically instead of just one
    of the two.”We pretty much opened up the entire page in terms of the
    real estate on the page,” Calvert said.The special RFID paper travels
    through that tray and the tag is programmed while everything else is
    printed.”It all happens in milliseconds,” said Rick Kallop, a senior
    industry consultant at Lexmark and RFID business development manager.
    “It never stops as it feeds through.”

    RFID printing has long
    been the dominion of thermal printers, which use heat and special
    paper, as opposed to laser printers and toner.The thermals often print
    shipping labels with RFID tags. It’s an area for which they’re
    well-suited, Lexmark says, because manufacturers have setups where the
    printer can automatically apply the tags on shipping labels and
    packages using blown air.”We’re almost more creating a new market than
    supplanting the thermals in their markets,” said Mark Underwood, a
    system architect in Lexmark’s laser printer division who focuses on
    RFID technology. “We’re going places they never could go.”And Lexmark
    says it’s doing it cheaper since its option costs less and also allows
    users to continue to print regular office documents. It also offers a
    wide variety of sizes of RFID paper that can be used.And because it can
    handle various RFID paper sizes, “we can consolidate two forms into
    one,” Calvert said. “It saves the end user money.”Where RFID can go

    So just what can Lexmark’s RFID printers do?

    bibs: RFID is now used to track times for runners in marathons and
    other races. In fact, Underwood says that if you trace the tags for the
    recent Midsummer Night’s Run far enough back in the supply chain, they
    were printed on a Lexmark RFID printer.Asset tags and shipping labels:
    Rather than have two separate forms for shipping labels and a tag to
    keep track of something like a computer, the Lexmark printer puts it on
    the same form.”Why spend 25 cents for two different labels?” Kallop
    said.Work-in-process tags: Take a manufacturer that has lots of pieces
    for its end product. The RFID tags are used to keep track of each
    piece.”If you’re building an engine, they put it on this engine … and
    they know when it’s gone from sandblasting to quality control to
    shipping,” Kallop said.

    Electronic vehicle identification:
    Lexmark has worked with a foreign country at one of its main ports at
    which automobile manufacturers ship vehicles. The port’s employees are
    allowed to buy up to two cars tax-free annually.

    But what’s
    wound up happening, Kallop says, is that someone might buy a red
    convertible and begin driving it to work. A few weeks later, the person
    would steal a similar-looking car and security guards would wave it on
    through since it matched the description of the employee’s vehicles.Now
    the cars are equipped with RFID tags to ensure employees are driving
    only what they paid for.The company is also working with a large
    metropolitan city, which it declined to name, to explore placing RFID
    tags on temporary license plate tags. That city, Kallop said, has
    different parking zones where people can park depending on their
    license plate. Thieves, however, have taken temporary tags for all
    areas and use them “so they can park all over the city,” he said.City
    parking employees will now have an RFID device so they can tell whether
    a tag on a car is actually registered to that car.

    tracking: Attorney offices are rapidly embracing RFID to tag their
    files, Kallop said.The companies will set up RFID readers near their
    exits that set off an alarm, in some cases, if a file is leaving. Or it
    will take a photo, he said, of who took the file, so it can be
    tracked.And keeping track of documents is just as relevant at, say, a
    hospital, where patients’ charts can often become lost.”Right now, the
    number of hours wasted a day at attorney offices, hospitals and
    courtrooms looking for documents is just mind-boggling,” Kallop
    said.Using RFID, employees can take a device and walk around and it
    will begin to beep when it’s near the correct file.

    A large law
    firm that adopted RFID went from having four people take two days to
    perform an audit to ensure all their files were on site to just one
    person doing it in four hours, Kallop said.The person walks around with
    the device and then at the end, “it will give you a discrepancy report,
    and then you go searching for them.”Evidence tracking: Tracking files
    is just one piece. Take police departments, which are responsible for
    maintaining massive amounts of evidence for criminal cases.Lexmark’s
    printer can print RFID evidence labels that can tag everything from a
    crow bar used in an assault to a gun.

    Lexmark has partnered with
    a firm called FileTrail that developed a browser-based records system
    to help track and log things like evidence, files and more.Darrell
    Mervau, vice president of business development for FileTrail, said the
    companies’ offerings can be applied to almost any business that manages
    an inventory of physical items.”There really are no limits to what sort
    of industry can benefit from RFID,” he said, noting that it would also
    be right for automotive part management, inventory management for video
    stores, and monitoring of high-end merchandise.It could even be used to
    track identified human remains — “think Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

    The market
    opportunities like hospitals, police departments and more, Lexmark says
    the market is ripe for expansion.According to data from technology
    research firm IDTechEx, the RFID market was around $5.29 billion in
    2008 and is expected to grow to $28 billion by 2017.Lexmark makes its
    money just like it does in the regular printing industry: selling the
    laser printer hardware and toner.”It’s a niche that none of the other
    guys have really attacked yet,” said Larry Jamieson of industry tracker
    Lyra Research. “Lexmark has a leg up. It’s another opportunity where
    they can own a piece of the market.”