Impro expands locally designed asset management range

June '99 Asset Management, EAS, RFID

Impro Technologies' Asset Identification and Management (AIM) range of products, launched in late 1998 at the Card Africa '98 exhibition with the introduction of the Psi-Scan unit, permits the identification and management of assets by means of a combination of electronic tags attached to the assets, electronic detection devices and remote data capture terminals. This provides a means of building a database of asset information on an associated PC.

Impro expands locally designed asset management range

Impro Technologies' Asset Identification and Management (AIM) range of products, launched in late 1998 at the Card Africa '98 exhibition with the introduction of the Psi-Scan unit, permits the identification and management of assets by means of a combination of electronic tags attached to the assets, electronic detection devices and remote data capture terminals. This provides a means of building a database of asset information on an associated PC.

Key elements and building blocks comprising Impro'sAsset Identification and Management (AIM) range of products are outlined below.

Tag technology

Impro manufactures proximity tags suitable for AIM purposes ("proximity" means that no physical contact is necessary to access the tag memory) using two distinct technologies, namely passive read-only and passive read/write technologies. The term "passive" indicates that the tag does not incorporate a power source.

Tags using read-only technology are pre-programmed at the factory with data which can only be "read", but not changed, by the remote date capture terminal. Tags using read-write technology permit the reading of tag data as well as "writing" data into the tag, which permits the modification of data stored in the tag.

Slimtags (read only)

Impro also manufactures various passive Slimtags that are useful in AIM applications. These are produced in several shapes for different applications, such as round, tear-drop, and credit card-shaped. The tags are pre-programmed at the factory with a unique identification number.

Label tags

Impro Label Tags are thin, flexible label-shaped tags mounted on an adhesive backing tape. They are designed to peel off a plastic backing strip, and to be attached to an item for identification for security purposes. They are designed to permanently cease functioning if removed from the item concerned, thus indicating that tampering has occurred.

Read/write tag capacity

Any data can be programmed into these read/write tags, limited to a maximum of 192 user-defined bytes (equivalent to 192 characters), depending on the tag type. Future developments include the capability for the encryption of data by the user for security purposes.

The remote data capture terminal

The Psion Workabout* is a powerful hand-held computer which incorporates a powerful CPU, up to 16MB of RAM, a 58-key keypad, a large LCD graphic display and a serial RS232 port for communication with an IBM-compatible PC.

This unit acts as the intelligent platform for the Impro AIM Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite adapters developed locally by Impro. The Psion Workabout permits the user to develop and utilise custom-designed software to suit the required application. The device is capable of performing complex calculations, displaying graphs, manipulating spreadsheet data, and the transfer of data to and from a PC.

Application software is easily generated on an IBM-compatible PC under ODE or OPLg. Impro provides ample source code to assist in the development of customised software.

The Impro Technologies software needed to use the Psi-Scan or Psi-Rite with the Psion Workabout. is supplied on a magnetic disk with each adapter.

The tag detectors

Impro Technologies has developed two adapters designed to be easily fitted to the Psion Workabout. The Psi-Scan passive tag reader was the first product in the AIM range of equipment, and is designed for use where read-only capabilities are required.

The company has now released the second device in the AIM range, namely the Psi-Rite. This unit provides the capability to both read data from tags and to write data into tags, a capability that has many potential applications in both commerce and industry. Whereas the interface to Psi-Scan is very elementary, the Psi-Rite interface is far more complex because of its write capability.

When mounted on the Psion Workabout, these adapters provide small hand-held, robust, versatile, portable tools which can provide valuable management information, revolutionising the identification and management of assets in industry. The Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite permit the Psion Workabout to read proximity tags when the adapter is held close to the tag.

Both devices operate successfully in conjunction with tags attached directly to many different materials, including metal surfaces.

The Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite units are capable of reading a wide variety of tag types, and a long battery life can be expected (up to 20 000 reads on a single battery charge). The Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite is designed to allow the user to create custom-made application software for particular needs. Data can be stored and transferred to a PC via the Psion Workabout unit Visual and aural indications of the successful reading of a tag are given. Custom application program design is performed on a PC connected to the serial port on the Psion Workabout unit.

The Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite operate over a wide range of environmental conditions (temperature -20°C to +70°C, humidity 0 to 80% non-condensing), and meets CE requirements. EMC, static, dust and splash resistance all meet stringent international standards.

The Psi-Scan or Psi-Rite shares the Psion Workabout memory which is a standard 256 kB expandable to 16 MB.

The units operate at a frequency of 125 kHz and have a typical reading range of 50 mm, or 15 mm when mounted directly on metal.

The software is designed to run under the EPOC operating system used in the Psion Workabout, and applications software design can be done under ODE or OPLg on an IBM-compatible PC.

Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite Applications

The adapters have an endless variety of application possibilities. The two adapter types can be used for many similar applications. In many cases the "write" data entry technology of the Psi-Rite would prove to be highly beneficial.

Typical uses of the Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite together with passive tags such as those made by Impro include:

 Asset Management - Equipment records such as item location, maintenance history, and so on, can be kept and regularly updated. This could apply to items such as computers, mining equipment, car engines, library books, jackhammers, and any other equipment which needs to be identified. With Psi-Rite, for example, the maintenance history could be written into the tag. Details such as weight, date of cutting, the source of the goods, and so on could be recorded on goods such as bales of cotton.

 Consumables Monitoring - A tag attached to a consumable item, such as a battery or a printer cartridge, could be used to ensure that the item was not changed before a due date, or to record the service life of the item.

 Time and Attendance Monitoring - The Psi-Scan/Psi-Rite can be used as a remote time and attendance terminal, collecting data from personnel on site. Psi-Rite could also be used in a gymnasium, for example, to monitor differing charge rates and to discount credit stored in tags carried by members.

 Stock Control - The movement of stock and inventory can be monitored.

 Stock Taking - Item fitted with tags can be checked with this equipment. With Psi-Rite, shelf life checks can be made if the acquisition date is written into the tag.

 Remote Identification - Personnel (for example, during building evacuation), vehicles, containers and other items can be identified.

 Field Maintenance - The product allows the user to keep records of maintenance times and inspection data for items of equipment which have tags installed. This data could be stored in the tag using Psi-Rite.

 Production Management - Records of the time spent at each stage of the production of an item can be kept. With Psi-Rite, inspection data can be stored in the tag.

 Security - The units can be used in conjunction with the Label Tag for security purposes. The tag can be placed on equipment to guarantee that it has not been opened or tampered with. The Label Tag can also be placed over a keyhole, or over screws which need to be removed to gain access to equipment. To monitor the integrity of data in a computer ROM chips, a Label Tag can be attached to the chip.

The Psi-Scan and Psi-Rite units can be ordered from Impro Distributors, while the Psion Workabout and accessories can be ordered from the manufacturer (Psion PLC) or through Impro Distributors.

For details contact Impro Technologies' Laurie Badenhorst on tel: (011) 476 9186 or fax: (011) 476 8258, John Powell on tel: (021) 448 7961 or fax: (021) 448 0689 or Tony White on tel: (031) 705 3003 or fax: (031) 705 3057.


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