“Skinning cats” with RFID Technology at RFID Journal Live

Now that I have offended every cat lover on earth, just relax. I can assure you there were no animals harmed in the 2013 edition of the RFID Journal Live show in Orlando. I ‘m just borrowing a phrase from Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and countless other literary compositions. “There is more than one way to skin a cat” is the idiom I haven’t been able to shake from my thoughts since leaving the show.

Industrial gateway demo at the show

If you missed us, we were the guys displaying the industrial gateway/portal equipped with the ultra-rugged antennas and the 4 channel UHF controller that seemed fit to take on heavy artillery fire. In addition, you missed the flashing smartlight that indicated the presence and identified tagged items as they passed through the RFID portal, which was all powered by Transitionworks Software.

My first “cat skinning” moment came long before the start of the show. We have several elite middleware and application software partners in our RFID arsenal, but my challenge was to choose the best fit for the show demo. I had two basic criteria for selecting a partner: 1. …software partner must have extensive experience installing and deploying full traceability solutions in the industrial arena and is capable of producing an “off the shelf solution” as well as a highly customized, application specific solution. 2. …must be so user-friendly that even a marketing guy (me) can operate it. Transitionworks Software based in High Point, NC was the perfect fit. While performing my due diligence it became apparent that there are dozens if not hundreds of software providers who can design traceability applications. AND, they all have a different way of going about it (they all have a different way of “skinning a cat”…to keep with the theme). Transitionworks understands that conforming the technology around the customer’s process proves successful over time, opposed to interfering with the customer’s process in order to utilize RFID technology. I like the way they skin cats!

As the show began to rev up I couldn’t help but wander around the show floor and stare at the hundreds of different ways that RFID related companies are skinning cats. Ultimately, we (RFID providers) are all trying to do the same thing…Identify objects. This was my first RFID Journal Live show so I came in with an expectation of seeing mind-blowing, never seen before, RFID technology. On the contrary, what I saw was very familiar equipment and software performing very unique and never-seen-before applications. One application that opened my eyes involved shooting an RFID tag down drill pipe at speeds close to 70MPH where it is detected by a reader thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. The detection of the tag by the reader activates a mechanical device that is used to widen the hole, which is necessary in the drilling operation to avoid binds. Now, I do have to admit, the Omni-ID ProView tag was a never-seen-before technology which I think has a definite future in the manufacturing world. There is no doubt that tag will change the way we skin cats.

In hindsight, I am a little surprised I let myself go down the path of expecting some new “magical” technologies. As I have mentioned in past blogs, there is no magic in technology, but there is sometimes a lack of understanding which often times twists our brain. Understanding RFID and its’ applications is one of the biggest hurdles when a customer is contemplating how to create visibility in their process. The RFID Journal Live Show is a great place to get a grasp of the simplest and the most complex concepts involving RFID technology. Through multiple workshops and educational breakouts Mark Roberti and his staff have created a great learning environment for novices and experts. I highly recommend attending in April 2014, and you too can see the many ways to skin a cat using RFID technology!

**no one knows for sure where the phrase was coined, but it has been said that it is not referring to furry house pets. Rather, it is in reference to cleaning catfish. Having been raised in a river town and catching my fair share of catfish, it is easy to believe because everyone does seem to have their own methodology when it comes to skinning a cat…fish.

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