CYBRA Finds the ‘Edge’ for Native i5/OS RFID Software
April 3, 2007 Alex Woodie
CYBRA last week unveiled EdgeMagic, a new edge server product designed to enable i5/OS shops to incorporate radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking technology into their own applications. Due out this summer with support for J.D. Edwards and VAI‘s S2K, EdgeMagic is expected to be the first and only native i5/OS RFID server product on the market.
CYBRA has been in the RFID business for years, but until now, its offerings have been relegated to developing software that controls the printing, or “encoding,” of data onto RFID tags. That product, called MarkMagic, is based on the same technology that CYBRA has successfully employed for decades for the generation of barcodes from i5/OS applications.
MarkMagic was sufficient for short-term RFID goals, where all a manufacturer or distributor needed to satisfy Wal-Mart and other channel masters was to get RFID tags with product data onto cases and pallets–the veritable “slap and ship.”
While slap and ship was enough to satisfy Wal-Mart’s RFID requirement, to really get value out of RFID–and prove to the executive board that RFID isn’t a cost center but can also help run the business more efficiently–manufacturers and distributors eventually need to close the loop and get RFID data back into their ERP, EDI, and warehouse management systems (WMSs), where product movement can be tracked. And that’s where EdgeMagic comes in.
Harold Brand, president of Yonkers, New York-based CYBRA, describes how the new EdgeMagic product will help customers. “They have an ERP. They have a WMS. They have EDI. Now they need something that comes in and talks to all those different products,” he says. “It’s taking it to the next step of dealing with readers and integration into EPCs [electronic product codes]. They need something that acts as the glue or the plumbing of all these different things, and that’s where EdgeMagic comes in.”
EdgeMagic will work with MarkMagic to generate the necessary EPC and global trade identification number (GTIN) data. After the RFID tags have been generated and applied, and product starts moving around the warehouse, then EdgeMagic starts functioning as an Application Level Event (ALE) interface for filtering and making sense of the barrage of raw data generated by RFID readers. EdgeMagic will perform RFID tag validation and keep the proper relationships between RFID tags on cases and RFID tags on pallets.
After all the data’s been collected and sifted by EdgeMagic, the product will hand over the pertinent pieces of data to the i5/OS-based ERP and WMS applications. The software will also interface with EDI systems, specifically for the generation of advanced shipping notices (ASNs).
EdgeMagic will also provide its own business process functionality. Take, for example, a hypothetical order of potato chips. “The order says there should be 18 cartons, but the reader says, ‘Sorry, there are only 17,'” Brand says. “Then it might turn on a red light, or a siren. It handles the assigning of the numbers, the validation, and then the notification to say ‘There’s something wrong.'”
In this respect, RFID can function as an insurance policy. “So when the stuff ends up at Wal-Mart, and they say something is missing [you have the audit trail that shows] something is missing on your end. It’s an insurance policy to help them comply with retailers, and the DOD (Department of Defense) as well.”
EdgeMagic is expected to begin beta testing soon, with general availability by this summer. The software will support EPCGlobal Gen 2 SGTIN-96, SSCC-96, DOD-96, and other RFID standards, and will ship with support for Oracle‘s J.D. Edwards and VAI’s S2K ERP applications, as well as Extol‘s EDI software, and the XR400 fixed RFID reader and the MC-9090G mobile RFID reader from Motorola (which owns market leader Symbol). Support for Infor products, specifically MAPICS and BPCS, and Manhattan Associates‘s i5/OS-based WMS is expected in version 2, which is due by the end of the year.
While some of these vendors have incorporated RFID capabilities into their products, some have not. “Out of the box, this thing will just attach itself to where it needs to attach itself,” Brand says. “If you have a modern version of OneWorld [now called EnterpriseOne], that’s great. If you don’t, we’ll take care of it.”
CYBRA decided to develop a native i5/OS RFID edge server because there was pressing need for it in the market, Brand says. “There are a whole lot of people in the same sort of mindset. They don’t want to spend a quarter of a million dollars and up, and not only does it not run on the System i, it doesn’t integrate with my ERP or WMS,” he says.
“What differentiates us is we’ve got the pedigree on the iSeries, the System i–we’ve been doing it for 20 years,” he says. “We look at EdgeMagic as the flipside of what we’re doing with MarkMagic. We’re going to take advantage of all the wonderful and useful support functions you already have built into the iSeries. We feel it can be a far better solution to the System i customers.”