Savi Technology Taps Solar Energy To Power RFID-Based Asset Tracking Systems

November 25, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Savi Technology, a Lockheed Martin company, has recently begun deploying solar-powered Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers and signposts, which are claimed to enable customers in the defense and commercial sectors to conserve energy and reduce costs while tracking supplies in real-time. Solar energy is said to provide an energy efficient and environmentally friendly power source for users’ RFID hardware, and also to eliminate the need to install electrical infrastructure in remote areas where there is no fixed reader infrastructure.

Savi engineers mounted solar panels and RFID signposts on poles located at a major U.S. Army supply facility in Kuwait. The solar-powered signposts activate RFID tags attached to vehicles or pieces of equipment. The tags then report the assets’ positions to nearby RFID readers, which relay the information to Savi Site Manager software that automatically updates the assets’ latest location. These tools enable the facility to track more than 25,000 tags per day.

"We continue to have challenges with providing adequate power for the installation of RFID sites in austere locations," said Lt. Col. Patrick Burden, U.S. Army Product Management Office of Joint Automatic Identification Technology (PM J-AIT). "We are always looking for innovative ways to address these critical issues to support Warfighter needs." PM J-AIT serves as a single point of contact for acquisition support and technical expertise for Joint Services, Federal agencies, NATO, and multi-national forces.

Plans are underway with the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the use of solar-powered applications to other areas in the Middle East and beyond.

On the commercial side, Savi Networks operates an RFID-based network in Colombia that also leverages solar energy to power Savi RFID signposts and readers that track the status and security of containerized cargo shipments managed by Emprevi Ltda., a Colombia-based provider of logistics and security services for major importers and exporters. Savi Networks, a joint venture in which Savi Technology holds a majority interest, installed solar-powered panels at strategic supply chain checkpoints, including source factories and port facilities, to monitor in-transit goods manufactured in and exported from Colombia.

"Solar energy powers some of the more remote sections of Emprevi’s RFID network that would otherwise lack a constant, dependable power source," said Mauricio Barberan Canas, President of Emprevi. "While taking advantage of a clean, renewable energy source, the system also leverages highly advanced information and security technologies that greatly improve Emprevi’s supply chain security, visibility, and management."