Putting the 'smart' into smart couplers
colder products Company (CPC) is the worldwide leader in the design and
manufacture of controlled performance connections and fittings that allow
flexible tubing to be quickly and easily connected and disconnected. These
specially engineered solutions provide flexibility, control, safety and
cost savings to a broad range of applications in the industrial, biopharmaceutical,
medical, chemical, food and packaging industries. Colder Products’
connections and fittings make systems cleaner, easier to maintain, and more
efficient, while adding value and functionality to smaller-scale applications.
The smart way to couple
Fluid coupling connectors are used in applications where consumable fluids
need to be replaced quickly, cleanly and safely. They are used in a range
of equipment from soft drink dispensers to commercial cleaning machines
and industrial ink jet printers. In 2002, CPC integrated the power of Radio
Frequency Identification (RFID) into its coupling connectors and launched
the world’s first range of ‘Smart Couplers’.
CPC wanted to embed intelligence into its fluid coupling connectors to enable
the automatic exchange of data at the exact time and location of connection.
The key drivers for this were the ability to:
• Enhance brand protection, by preventing the flow of unauthorised
or out-of-date materials
• Prevent potential misconnections, which can be hazardous and cause
• Maintain process quality through the identification of product characteristics
Several different technology options were evaluated and rejected by CPC.
For example, optical systems became obscured over time through accumulated
dirt, and mechanical solutions were vulnerable to wear through repeated
connect/disconnect cycles. RFID technology, with its ability to read and
write data across an air interface with no line-of-sight or mechanical components,
became the obvious candidate for the job.
Moving the idea forward
CPC’s first wave of development culminated in a pioneering range of
Smart Couplers that, due to the cost of the technology, were only suited
to high-value applications. The challenge was to reduce the cost of the
technology to propel the devices into lower-cost applications and really
open up the potential of mass-volume markets.
At this point CPC turned to Innovision Research & Technology plc, a
British company with proven experience in the development of low-cost RFID
tag and reader solutions and with responsibility for one of the world’s
largest volume commercial implementations of the technology to date.
A partner in innovation
UK-based Innovision R&T offered a world class engineering and custom
Integrated Circuit (IC) design group with the experience necessary to transfer
CPC’s requirements into ultra low-cost tag and reader solutions. Through
its proprietary technology portfolio and licensing-based business model,
Innovision R&T was able to minimise CPC’s initial risk by performing
all development work at-cost. Revenue was focused on the royalties generated
by a viable product that delivered mutual success for both parties.
The end result was a low-cost custom RFID tag and reader solution that is
set to dramatically increase the sales of CPC’s IdentiQuikTM and IntelliQuikTM
Smart Couplers across the globe.
Rick Garber, Technology Unit Business Manager, at Colder Products Company,
said: “Innovision R&T’s value proposition suddenly makes
it possible for high-volume manufacturers to implement RFID technology –
adding immeasurable value that can be passed on to the end-users at cost.
CPC has been able to enhance the appeal of its brand and offer a solution
to markets previously inaccessible through cost.”
About Innovision Research & Technology plc
Innovision Research & Technology plc is a leading Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID) design services company for the Medical, Transport
and Consumer Electronics sectors. The company creates, develops and licenses
low-cost near-field RFID systems and silicon chip designs, and other novel
electronic technologies via its 30- strong team of engineers, IC designers
and RFID specialists. Innovision R&T is listed on the Alternative Investment
Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: INN). For further
information, visit: www.innovision-group.com