Deal could keep tab on assets

A new agreement between Unisys Corp. and WhereNet Corp. could lead to a system that would help military units track material that needs to be loaded onto ships, rail cars or aircraft in preparation for deployment

Unisys and WhereNet signed an agreement March 12 making Unisys a reseller of WhereNet's real-time location technology.

Unisys and WhereNet initially signed a co-marketing agreement in March 2000 under which Unisys analyzed WhereNet's local positioning product, said Harry Meisell, project manager for Unisys' total asset visibility operations and radio frequency identification.

Now, the two companies are moving into the second phase, in which Unisys will use WhereNet's radio transmission system to provide a prototype system for the Army's Logistics Integration Agency, Meisell said. Unisys has a task order for the prototype under the $4.6 million Defense Enterprise Integration Services II contract.

"We will be reviewing the capability and potential of the product for the military," Meisell said. Testing will take place this spring and summer, and Unisys is working with the Defense Department to select a good test bed for the product, he said.

Following the test, Unisys will explore other military and civilian agency sites that could use the technology, Meisell said.

WhereNet's system involves placing a radio tag half the size of a commercial pager onto a specific asset, said Tom Turner, WhereNet senior vice president. A series of antennas placed within a local area, such as a port, can determine the location of that asset within 10 feet, he said. The battery-operated tags, which cost about $50 each, last for several years, he said.

The low-power radio transmission system has been tested and does not interfere with other radio frequency systems, nor do other systems interfere with it, Turner said.

"The government owns a lot of high-value assets," Turner said. "WhereNet helps organize and manage them."

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