News | April 6, 2009

London Underground Use Confidex Ironside Tag On Escalators

Confidex, a fast growing company with unique expertise in RFID design, manufacturing and engineering, recently announced that it has shipped more than 10,000 of its Confidex Ironside UHF Gen2 Hard Tag to London Underground in the UK. The tags shipped via Confidex partner CoreRFID Ltd are to be used to improve escalator maintenance.

Although Confidex has shipped Ironside tags to several customers in substantially larger volumes, the London Underground application is of great relevance to other escalator operators around the world. Maintenance and safety of escalators is important for Metro operators such as London Underground and for shopping malls and other public places.

The escalators of the London Underground carry more than three million passengers every day from the street to the platforms and back again. Most commuters and tourists don't give the travelling metal staircases a second thought; a fact that is a testament to the reliability of the system and the care taken over the maintenance of escalators. The steps that make up these escalators are subject to constant wear from the feet of passengers and from the mechanical movement on the escalator track. A failure in an escalator step could cause serious injury. If an escalator step were to fail during rush hours, lives could be put at risk and serious disruption to travelers would result.

To prevent such an event, London Underground, has implemented an inspection / maintenance regime that ensures the structural integrity of every step is checked at least once during the course of every year. With almost 30,000 escalator steps, in almost 200 escalators, needing to be checked this requires significant effort by London Underground's engineering staff.

To address the need for faster, more accurate and more cost-efficient maintenance, London Underground decided to use RFID technology. They selected CoreRFID Ltd, based in Warrington, UK as their solutions provider and Confidex for their tag expertise company. A decision was made early on to use UHF Gen2 (ISO-18000-6C) technology as the only viable technology able to read tags attached on metal from a distance.

CoreRFID developed the "Step Tracking System" as the maintenance management solution. This uses PDA with RFID Reader (Nordic ID's PL3000 ruggedized hand held reader) mounted on a cradle beside the escalator and application software to read and write information on the tag. The choice of the ruggedized and extremely durable Confidex tag was seen as a key to the success of the pilot project.. "It was obvious to us that Confidex had the best solution here. The tags to be used had to last in the very challenging environment of an operating escalator with vibration, temperature variation, grease and dirt as well as magnetic fields all being a factor. In consultation with Confidex we selected the Ironside Tag. We have more than 18 months experience with most of Confidex Hard Tags and Speciality Labels and we were confident about the choice." says Richard Harrison, Technical Sales Director of CoreRFID.

"The tags are installed under the steps, attached with acrylic adhesive provided by Confidex and in spite of the very tough environment and constant movement, not a single Ironside Tag detached from its escalator step over the two months long trial period" continues Richard. "However, in the future all new steps will come from manufacture with tags riveted on them." Operational deployment has now started across the Bakerloo, Central, and Victoria lines and other underground stations where London Underground is responsible for escalator maintenance.

"This has been a very good collaboration between our three organizations. We are very pleased to see a well managed project from idea to trial and pilot moving to a full scale roll out," said Torbjörn Andersson, Confidex Vice President of Sales & Business Development. "There are clear advantages for London Underground in using RFID. Having an automated system that provides essential data without interrupting escalator use is something many other users and operators of escalators can take advantage of. Operators and maintainers looking for improved Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul for their escalators and travelators can look to Confidex and CoreRFID who will publish a case study of the application in the near future."

Confidex Ironside is a "Hard Tag" in Impact resistant material. It is among the most durable, on-metal, high temperature resistant Gen2 tags available to date. The tag, which use NXP's G2XM chip featuring 240bit EPC, UID and 512bits of user memory, was an early recipient of SAE's AS5678 certification. "The flagship Confidex Ironside Hard Tag is already used in a variety of applications, on metal containers, airline food carts, postal roll cages, power transformers, stillages in automotive manufacturing and on road maintenance equipment to mention a few said Torbjörn Andersson."

A complete Technical Product Specification including installation guide is downloadable from Confidex website:

About Confidex
Confidex, headquartered in Tampere, Finland, is a fast growing company with unique expertise in RFID design, manufacturing and system engineering. With offices in Europe, North America and China, Confidex provides high-performing, industry-standard RFID tags for demanding applications. The company's highly experienced team has enabled Confidex to quickly become the trusted partner for major vendors and end-users in the RFID industry.

Confidex's core competencies and experience span HF (high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency) antenna design, tag manufacturing, and advanced tag conversion and encapsulation. For more information, visit

About CoreRFID
CoreRFID, based in Warrington, UK is a specialist solution integrator and distributor for RFID applications and technology. CoreRFID develops and implements RFID solutions across healthcare, transport, facilities management, government and high-value manufacturing. The company has delivered applications for asset management, health and safety monitoring, pick and pack manufacturing and plant maintenance.

CoreRFID's principal capabilities are in RFID technology selection, mobile computing platforms and solution design, development and deployment, working in conjunction with major clients and integrating where necessary with existing back office systems. CoreRFID also operates a web shop outlet and distribution facility.

For more information, visit or

SOURCE: Confidex