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Business Briefs: Alien improves blood bag tracking

Alien Technology, based in Morgan Hill, and Aifos Solutions
announced the successful implementation of a UHF RFID based
hemo-derivative blood bag tracking application.
Alien Technology, based in Morgan Hill, and Aifos Solutions announced the successful implementation of a UHF RFID based hemo-derivative blood bag tracking application. The solution dramatically improves upon efficiency, reduces errors, enhances visibility and bolsters security within the supply chain at the Blood and Tissue Bank of Balearic Islands, located off the coast of Spain, at a fraction of the cost of alternative RFID tag solutions. The biggest challenges were that the blood needed to remain at freezing temperature for long periods of time and the bags had to be readable both in a liquid and frozen state.

Great strides have been made with UHF RFID over the years, positioning the technology in favorable light in what was once considered an unachievable application, namely placement of UHF tags on liquids such as blood bags. Today, however, these hurdles have been easily overcome, and UHF RFID performance far surpasses all other RFID tag technology options at a fraction of the cost. The ultra high performance of UHF RFID enables more accurate inventories and improved read speeds at further read distances than was previously possible using HF RFID technology. Today, high density containers with over 80 blood bags each are virtually instantaneously read, even on liquids in high moisture, frozen environments.

Explains Joan Xiol, Managing Director of Aifos, “One issue with using RFID to track blood/hemo-derivative bags has been how and where one could apply an RFID inlay on the plasma bag without any contaminants leeching into the blood itself. We found the correct solution to eliminate any contamination. Additionally, the inlay label needed to survive long durations at freezing temperatures (-35ºC) when the plasma bags are kept in the storage chamber. The tagged plasma bag must be readable both in a liquid and frozen state — this was the second greatest challenge in this application. We are proud to say that we have solved both of these challenges and have installed the world’s first such whole vein-to-vein tracking solution at the Blood and Tissue Bank of Balearic Islands in Mallorca (FBSTIB).”

Josep Muncunill, MD and CEO of FBSTIB, states during the interview, “The solution foremost adheres to the international ISBT128 data integrity standard governing blood bag labeling. Maintaining inventory control, security and plasma quality accuracy has always been a challenge for blood banks. Bar codes are currently still being used, but oftentimes, the bar code label is crumpled or covered in a thick layer of ice during quarantine, making the plasma bag unreadable. When we have thirty to forty thousand plasma bags in our inventory chamber and a medical emergency requires us to find the correct plasma bag as quickly as possible, the quality and speed of our data capture system is of the utmost importance. We required a method to both reduce time consumption and labor intensivity in order to track down the correct plasma or very unique hematite bags in inventory. Aifos’ solution of applying a low cost Alien Technology UHF inlay onto each bag has greatly simplified both our inventory control process, security and quality management systems.”

Adds Stephen Crocker, Director EMEA/India for Alien Technology, “Alien’s low cost UHF tag solution incorporates our field-proven Squiggle® inlay mounted onto each of the plasma bags and our versatile enterprise category passive reader/writer, which is mounted above the plasma chamber door to provide global content control. Together with Aifos, we are working on several additional installations in Spain and throughout Europe. We strongly feel there is a global necessity for adopting this technology in order to enhance the quality, security and process/inventory control of tracking plasma bags throughout their life cycle.”

Esteve Jane, chief operations officer of Aifos Solutions, concludes, “We have established a strong IP foundation using Alien’s technology as a base in the plasma tracking segment, and we are confident that our complete software and hardware solution will fill a real and necessary global need in this very important medical tracking segment.”

For a video of the application, visit www.aifos-solutions.com/ eng/portfolio_sang.html.

Improved 1st quarter results for Coast

The Coast Distribution System, Inc., an RV and assessories supplier based in Morgan Hill, reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010, highlighted by revenue growth and improved bottom line results. Coast reported net income of $22,000, or $0 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2010 as compared to a net loss of $0.9 million, or 20 cents per diluted share for the first quarter of 2009. That nearly $1 million year-over-year improvement was primarily attributable to increases in net sales and gross margin, and a reduction in selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses in this year’s first quarter.

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