recent interview conducted by RFID Solutions Online, Mark Freeman,
president of Inspec Tech, Inc. shared his views on the top ten
things users should consider when buying RFID labels. Understanding
these considerations will ensure your RFID application’s success
and provide you with the best return on your investment
is the customer?
today’s RFID world there are many end-users that must comply with
mandates. These include Wal-Mart suppliers, Department of Defense
suppliers, and suppliers for Target, JC Penney, Sears, and other
major retailers. Also in the pharmaceutical world, many companies
are complying with FDA mandates. However, there are many companies
with no compliance mandates that are interested in the technology as
a tracking method.
inlay should I use?
are applying RFID labels in many ways. Some apply to corrugated,
plastic, and metal. Likewise, the environment these labels are
applied in will take many forms such as temperature and water. These
factors alone will determine which RFID inlay and facestock to
is the difference in RFID closed-loop and open-loop systems?
closed-loop solution many times takes on proprietary requirements in
the form of tags and readers. An example would be tracking a certain
type of pharmaceutical use in a hospital environment. An open-loop
solution is fairly generic in the choice of RFID hardware, software,
and RFID labels. An example of this type would be tracking a product
being shipped to a Wal-Mart Distribution center. Any combination of
Gen 2 readers/ writers and tags will work.
size RFID label do we use?
will depend on the application and the standards required by others
(i.e. DoD, Wal-Mart, FDA, etc). The size of the inlay used can range
from circular, square, rectangular, or linear footprints. These are
available in the UHF and HF products.
determines the tag we need to use?
this will depend on the requirements of the application, end-user,
and or the system used. Example: 13.56 MHz will work great for
tracking cattle but not for tracking cargo in containers. This is
because the 13.56 MHz design is used for close up reading. The 915
MHz Read distances for this type tag are from one inch to three feet
for tracking cargo container but not cattle. The 915 MHz design is
more useful in an environment where greater reading distance is
required. The distances with this type tag will range from two feet
to twenty -eight feet.
are the costs of these tags?
cost depends on several factors. These are the volume purchased,
size, frequency, and facestock required by the application to cover
the tag. Pricing can range from $0.18 to $5.00 per tag.
makes up the antenna?
antennas can be made of copper, aluminum, or metallic inks. The read
ranges and read rates vary depending on which style antenna is
chosen. Also, the antenna selected determines the costs associated.
For example, copper is much more expensive than metallic ink, but is
a much better conductor of RF.
are the read distances?
distances depend on the size of the antenna and the frequency. UHF
tags have the furthest read distance with a range of 24 inches to 28
feet. HF tags are used for close range reading, which range from
direct contact to 3 feet away. Distance will also depend on the
impedance level of the item to which it is attached. (i.e. a case of
soup v.s. a case of cereal) Therefore liquids, solids, metals and
people all affect RFID read rates/ ranges.
is the tag read?
are three common types of RFID readers. Mobile hand held readers,
which resemble barcode readers/ scanners. The fixed/mounted readers
on a conveyer system used for reading/ writing in line. The portal
reader at docks in manufacturing facilities.
is it applied?
label can be applied by hand or with print/apply units. The
hand-applied method has been coined in the industry "slap and
ship". The other method is automated print and apply. The read
rates of the tags applied by hand range from 70% to 90% positive
reads. Tags applied by the Inspec Smart Tag print/apply system have
a 100% accurate read rate because the bad tags are rejected before
ever reaching the product.
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