RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) has entered a new era in South Africa with the local launch of RF Controls’ Intelligent Tracking and Control System (ITCS®) by Johannesburg-based Auto-Identification specialist company, Harmonic Solutions.

Based in the United States, RF Controls has developed ITCS as a standards-based automatic data capture system. It achieves wide area zonal monitoring using innovative “smart antenna” technology.
Items or assets are labelled using widely available, inexpensive, passive or battery-assisted passive UHF RFID tags. These are used to identify, locate and track tagged items in a three-dimensional space in real-time.  
The tags can be used on any item from clothing, electronic equipment and pharmaceuticals to cartons or containers (and their contents).
The smart antenna technology at the heart of ITCS can accurately determine the location of an individual RFID tag to within 30cm. This advanced antenna system incorporates complex mathematical algorithms and signal processing techniques, similar to those that have been applied to military target acquisition and tracking systems.
ITCS achieves its exceptional operating range while operating in full compliance with RF emissions regulations. ITCS is certified compliant with European CE and ETSI 302 208 and US FCC CFR 47 Part 15.247 both of which are recognised by the South African authorities. South African regulatory approval is currently in process at ICASA.
Barry Baetu, CEO of Harmonic Solutions, says ITCS is remarkably cost effective because a single antenna mounted on the ceiling or high on the walls of a warehouse or retail store could do the work of multiple conventional RFID reader systems thus offering a lower capital cost than conventional portal readers.
For example, one ITCS antenna could cover two or three adjacent dock doors in a warehouse, or wide exit points in a retail store.
“ITCS can also do so much more than a conventional passive RFID system. The ability to accurately locate arbitrarily situated tags in 3-D could solve many problems associated with conventional RFID systems, which simply capture the serial number of a tag in a read zone,” he explains.
ITCS not only allows you to uniquely identify multiple tagged items, it also enables you to accurately ascertain the present location of those tagged items in three dimensions. In addition, ITCS tracks the actual movement of the tagged items concurrently, providing high fidelity information on the precise location of tagged cartons, cases, pallets and individual items, all in real-time.
In a retail setting where RFID and passive tags have traditionally been confined to Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) applications to prevent theft, you could install ITCS at back-of-store – to achieve fully automated inventory management – as well as at exit points to reduce shrinkage.
You could know exactly what items you have in stock (apparel, shoes, DVDs, CDs, video games), precisely what each item is (size, colour, artist, brand – and how long it has been in stock) and exactly where each item is presently located (on the upper, left shelf), leading to improved replenishment process efficiency and enhanced customer service.
In addition, because ITCS keeps a time-sequenced record of the locations of each tagged item as it is read, you can automatically track the item as it is moved around the store, or out the door, by a customer or employee.
“ITCS takes EAS to the next level,” Baetu says and points out that the system can also help in locating missing items and deliver real-time inventory visibility to an inventory management system, leading to multi-faceted improvements in store operations.
“ITCS offers a completely different way of thinking about the utility of passive RFID tags, offering unprecedented ability to identify, locate and track tagged items automatically. The utilisation of passive RFID will never be the same again,” he concludes.