Army wants any time, anywhere RFID tag

Army Next Generation RFID Tag Project Presolicititation Notice

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 tags from Savi Technology to track shipping containers worldwide. Active RFID tags and readers serve 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 provide ITV only when a tag reader scans a container equipped with the Savi tag.

The Army Logistics Transformation Agency (LTA) wants industry to develop new tags with built-in wireless capabilities for global communication, and has tapped GovWorks, the Interior Department’s Federal Acquisition Center, to run the procurement -- due 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 Next Generation Phase I active RFID tags developed by Ocean Systems Engineering, NAL Research and Savi. Those tags had built-in capability to communicate via the Iridium satellite system.

The prototype Phase I tag also packed onboard Global Positioning System receivers. "The prototype tags function just as the current RFID tags but with one added benefit -- it phones home from any position around the world,” said Mark Liberman, management specialist at the Defense Distribution Center in Susquehanna, Pa., at the time of the test.

Jeff Fee, logistics management specialist at LTA, said tags capable of satellite communication “will further enhance our in-transit visibility capabilities on a global scale.”

When GovWorks releases its Phase II solicitation next month, it says it wants contractors to develop and test additional prototypes capable of global wireless networking via satellite and built-in cellular telephone technology. The winning contractor will also be asked to evaluate the use of an internal container tag with ultra-wideband wireless technology to provide “in-the-box” visibility of container contents.

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

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