IBM’s New Software Expands Benefits Derived from Sensor Events

ARMONK, NY - IBM announced the release of WebSphere Premises Server 6.1, a software product that enables business-process transformation by responding to the insights provided by sensor data. The product will enable companies to gather, analyze, and act upon data from passive and active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and other sensors to improve their ability to react to real-world events that impact their operations and business results.

The WebSphere Premises Server is IBM's software foundation for extracting the business value from sensor data," said Martin Wildberger, Vice President, Sensor Solutions, IBM. "This release takes advantage of IBM's industry-leading business-process management software to allow customers to improve business processes and drive competitive advantage through the use of sensor data."

Innovative companies—including Amerisource Bergen, DHL, Honda Italia, and Metro—use IBM sensor technologies to access previously unavailable business information. They have taken sensor solutions far beyond the "does it work?" stage to the critical "what does this mean for my business?" phase. The solutions used by these companies demonstrate that sensor technologies can improve key business processes in many different areas, including work-in-process tracking, the retail-customer experience, and supply chain visibility.

Today there are many new opportunities to draw useful business information from an infrastructure of networked sensors, including passive RFID for object identification, active RFID for location information, and other types of sensors for condition information, such as temperature, vibration, humidity, or other important status or environmental factors. This kind of information can illuminate previously dark areas of business execution, such as the location of a pallet of items after it has been delivered to a customer location.

IBM's WebSphere Premises Server makes it simpler than ever to establish a complete sensor solution. The product serves as a single platform that enables process innovation based on insights from multiple sensor technologies. It offers several new features that significantly expand businesses' ability to act upon sensor events. Real-time location-tracking services are provided to expand data capture and delivery capabilities to support active RFID technologies, allowing continuous tracking of real-time events in areas such as refineries, plants, and office buildings. The software also features an event-processing engine that allows companies to establish business rules that act upon sensors events, resulting in actionable information.

"The WebSphere Premises Server 6.1 allows businesses to create solutions that use multiple types of sensors, including the passive and active RFID tags we use for component tracking in our motorcycle manufacturing operations," said Nicola Marrone, RFID Project Manager at Honda Italia. "Using this software, manufacturers can improve their capabilities in work-in-process tracking and supply chain visibility."

The product works with IBM's WebSphere Business Process Management software, including the new WebSphere Business Events, to integrate all types of enterprise systems and establish new business processes without rewriting applications. Sensor event data can also be managed through IBM's WebSphere RFID Information Center, which allows businesses to securely share sensor data with trading partners, using EPCIS-or DPMS-compliant solutions.

Using a sensor solution based on the WebSphere Premises Server, a company can identify an item, its location, and its condition, using the best sensor technology for the task, whether that is a passive RFID tag, an active tag, some other type of sensor, or a combination of these. For example, a fork lift equipped with an active RFID tag can be tracked as it travels through a distribution facility. If the forklift picks up a pallet of strawberries identified by a passive tag, the software will alert the driver and operations manager if someone attempts to leave those goods in an area that condition sensors show to be above a certain temperature. In this way, the business can reduce spoilage and help ensure that consumers can buy the freshest possible fruit.

The WebSphere Premises Server features an open standards–based architecture that makes it easy for device manufacturers to differentiate their offerings by extending beyond the general capabilities of the adapter interface to provide additional capabilities that only their device may support. For businesses, the product's open design provides the freedom and flexibility to choose the best device capabilities that meet their solution needs from a broad range of device vendors. These vendors' devices have been validated via the "Ready for IBM WebSphere Premises Server" device-validation program, which helps manufacturers ensure interoperability, using an open standards–based device support model that allows vendors to easily deliver data to IBM's software. Eleven leading device manufacturers—Alien Technology, CAEN, Eurotech Inc., FEIG ELECTRONIC, Impinj, Intermec, Motorola, Reva, Sirit, TAGSYS, and Wavetrend—have been validated through the IBM program.

The new Premises Server is the result of collaborative work among IBM's Labs and innovation centers around the world. It was developed by a team of IBM developers in RFID Centers of Excellence in Beijing, China; Boeblingen, Germany; and Raleigh, NC. IBM Innovation Centers in LaGaude, France; Hursley, U.K.; San Mateo, CA; and Waltham, MA also participated in testing the software with IBM's business partners. IBM's worldwide innovation centers serve as a resource for partners to use in their device-validation activities.

For more information on IBM's sensor solutions, visit the IBM's Web site.

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