100 % “Made in New Zealand”
As a global high-tech company, Times-7 specializes in the development and production of RAIN (UHF) RFID antennas. The team is highly focused on the international market and exports to over 50 countries. They have a vast portfolio of UHF RFID ‘SlimLine’ antenna designs – the biggest in the market.
Product development focuses on three objectives: Product functionality, aesthetics and robustness. In an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Giuliana Gilges-Richards, Head of Sales & Marketing, elaborates on the products and applications.
The company started in September 2006 as Times-7 Sports in New Zealand. With a shared passion for cycling, the two founders recognized that the accuracy of the timing system at cycling competitions was not sufficient and that there was still room for improvement.
As a result, Times-7 Sports was established to bring a new product to the market that could increase the accuracy of timing in cycling competitions. Due to an increase of interest in their innovative antenna designs, Times-7 Research was born, and has evolved into what Times-7 is today.
UHF Antennas 100 % “Made in New Zealand”
- Founded in 2006
- Antenna design and production 100 % in New Zealand
- 98 % of products exported to over 50 countries worldwide
- Customized antenna designs available for specialized use cases
- Largest UHF RFID antenna portfolio worldwide
In 2020, the team continues forward with the exclusive manufacturing of antennas. The focus: RAIN (UHF) RFID. All antennas are 100 % "Made in New Zealand" and are exported all over the world. Giuliana Gilges-Richards explains: "With the obvious success of RTAS, the company received numerous inquiries for various small applications.
This was the spark for the development of our antenna portfolio as it is today." Times-7 currently has 40 standard antenna designs in their product portfolio and over 300 different antenna designs for almost all applications: from automotive and food, to libraries.
UHF RFID on the Race Track
The SlimLine RTAS is a complete high-performance ground mat antenna system designed for race timing and event management applications. This includes the tracking of people at an event and the timing of cycling or running competitions.
According to Giuliana Gilges-Richards: "This antenna was part of a solution we offered that focused mainly on applications in bike racing. The product was a huge success and is still used by our customers around the world today". The system is easy and quick to integrate. You can connect up to seven antennas with the finishing line strip.
Booming Production and Continuing Growth
Times-7 develops multi-purpose antennas for all industries with the majority of applications being fulfilled through their standard portfolio. When the RF specs aren’t fitting, they can build custom and bespoke designs. Production volume has steadily grown over the years and is now booming. As order and production speed increased, thanks to automated processes, the manufacturing capacity grew.
The result: Production of high-volume products, such as today's SlimLine A5010. With regards to current production output, Guiliana Gilges-Richards comments: "The volume we can output depends on the type of antenna. Our production and manufacturing capabilities are continually advancing and many of our antennas and new products, such as the SlimLine A5010 and SlimLine A5020, have a large production volume of 1,000 units per week."
Giuliana Gilges-Richards, Head of Sales & Marketing, Times-7: “What sets us apart from our competitors is our expert customer service and the speed with which we are able to fulfill orders. We owe this to our production forecast – keeping the goods on the shelf ready for immediate shipment – and the highly developed production process. We are excellent communicators and cater to all time-zones.”
“Times-7 is a designer and manufacturer of RAIN (UHF) RFID antennas. We emphasize this because the fact that we focus on one specific technology is unique. We have a deep knowledge of UHF RFID and much of our Research and Development is focused on antennas. We have expertise in RF technology, and we are innovative across the tagantenna- reader continuum and how the larger system works in conjunction with our antennas.”
Times-7 SlimLine Antennas
The product portfolio is based on a unique design aesthetic that Times-7 calls ‘Slim- Line’. All SlimLine antennas are between 8 and 12 mm thick and have been tested and deployed around the world in hundreds of applications, from tracking luggage at airports to intelligent shelves in retail used for real-time inventory. Thanks to the ultra- thin design, the SlimLine antennas can be installed in the tightest of spaces.
Functionality, aesthetics and robustness: These three aspects are built into every antenna of the SlimLine family. Two examples: SlimLine A5010 and A5020 - two antennas that not only have the 'SlimLine' aesthetics but also the robustness. This enables them to withstand all weather conditions without compromising functionality.
- Size: 10 inch x 10 inch
- Reading range: 9 m
- Protection class: IP67
- Applications: Warehousing, retail, medical and pharmaceutical, all-weather applications
- Benefits: clever mounting design, slim form factor, reflection protection, very low axial ratio,high IP-rating
- Size: 150 mm / 5.9 in square footprint
- Reading range average: 4.5 m
- 45 cm wider read range than other antennas of similar size
- Protection class: IP68
- Applications: Kiosks and point-of-sale, waste management, retail, medical and pharmaceutical
- Benefits: technical specifications and RF performance, superior Tag reading performance, reflection protection, ruggedness and environmental performance, easy mounting and smart design
Use Case in Healthcare
Rollex Medical Relies on UHF RFID
Rollex Medical, a manufacturer of medical refrigerators based in Auckland, New Zealand, is using an RFID system to monitor pharmaceutical products and data. With the RFID system MATOS PLUS, developed in cooperation with Times-7, a solution was created that can monitor stock levels around the clock.
The challenge: Capturing small liquid stocks that are densely packed. This Gilgis where Times-7's UHF RFID antennas come into play. The antenna can withstand cold temperatures in a metallic environment without affecting the reading rate. With an optimal combination of tags and antenna, a 100% read rate was achieved.
The result: Reduced waste a d a regulated stock rotation. Product recalls are easy to manage and the delivery of the right medication to patients is always guaranteed.
Antennas for Every Application
There is a demand for UHF RFID antennas in all areas, from the agriculture industry to logistics and healthcare. Times-7 offers a wide range of antennas for a variety of applications. As Giuliana Gilges-Richards points out: “There is no particular industry for which we can categorize all our antennas. We have seen an uptake of demand in the retail and healthcare sectors and are continually scouring the market for inspirational use cases that use our innovative technology.”
In the logistics industry, the antennas are used for tracking expensive goods. Libraries are also a big innovator in UHF RFID and Time -7 has worked on several large libraries around the globe and assisted in the implementation of RFID systems.
Final Puzzle Piece in the Product Portfolio
Times-7 is continually communicating with its customers and analyzing the market to improve its portfolio. The team views its customers as the window into the market and works closely with them to create high-level product road maps. “We are constantly evaluating the market and working closely with our customers to ensure that our products match their needs.
This business model allows us to forecast, design and manufacture precisely what the industry is looking for. We invest in both linear and circular antennas as we understand there is a necessity for both in today’s climate,” says Giuliana Gilges-Richards.
Linear antennas are particularly suitable for vehicle toll collection solutions because the placement of the tag is very controlled. However, there is currently a greater demand for circular antennas that simplify all aspects of the application and offer more flexibility.
Giuliana Gilges-Richards adds: "We are adapting to current trends and are continuously developing. On the one hand, we have traditional antennas that are still bestsellers. On the other hand, we receive numerous inquiries from customers all over the world which gives us market insights – this, combined with increasing market demand, gives us the opportunity to expand our product portfolio."
Focus: Customer Service
Times-7 is proud of its service teams. A fast, efficient and targeted response is part of the daily routine and is also what gives the company a head start in securing business deals. Since the entire team and all departments are located in one building, communication between the different departments is fast and efficient.
Giuliana Gilges-Richards explains: "What sets us apart from our competitors is our expert customer service and the speed with which we are able to fulfill orders. We owe this to our production forecast – keeping the goods on the shelf ready for immediate shipment – and highly developed production processes. We are excellent communicators and cater to all time-zones."
Think Outside the Antenna
Although Times-7 focuses exclusively on RAIN-RFID antennas, the company knowledge goes beyond that. Times-7 shares this industry knowledge with its global partner base and has recently pivoted its focus onto the local New Zealand market: "When it comes to antenna design and manufacturing, we will definitely focus on RAIN RFID. We do not want to develop and manufacture any other technology, but we also understand that UHF RFID is only one part of the whole picture – IoT", says Giuliana Gilges-Richards.
"People in New Zealand see us as experts in UHF RFID and we are expanding our services. We aim to support the local markets with UHF RFID and how it integrates with other technologies within the IoT space – this naturally includes a lot of knowledge transfer. We are researching what opportunities are currently available in terms of the local healthcare and agriculture sectors and how we, as a company, can help in the progression of these RFID projects. Recently we have been working with a New Zealand deer exporter and helped implement an RFID system to track their highly valuable and premium goods. This partnership has involved going on-site and educating them on the entire hardware side of the solution – not merely the antenna!”.
There is an enormous exchange of knowledge between engineers and the sales and marketing team during customer meetings. "We provide customers with knowledge about RFID and entire systems," says Giuliana Gilges-Richards. The mentality at Times-7 is to always think ahead. Giuliana Gilges-Richards continues: "We are forecasting growth, both in production and in our company as a whole. We are confident in our Research & Development capabilities and aim to innovatively expand as the market demand evolves."