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RFID Inlay Tagging Challenges

Views:1     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2018-02-07      Origin:Site

The RFID inlay is a perfect fit for item-level authentication and asset tracking solutions in pharmaceutical and medical applications. Popular industry applications consist of library and rental item level tagging for automated self checkout and return of printed and digital media, as well as industrial closed loop systems for manufacturing automation. RFID inlay can also be utilized as personal currency in ticketing and customer loyalty card applications. HF RFID inlay offers proven robust performance with short-to-medium read ranges even when used around difficult materials such as liquids and metals.

As with any fast-growing technology that shifts paradigms, RFID tag has raised some new issues as more tagging is done at suppliers' factories. There is growing awareness that all RFID tags are not created equally. An RFID tag inlay, which is a combination of an antenna and chip, is either laminated to a sticker or embedded into a paper tag. Today there are approximately 80 different types of RFID inlays with varying performance characteristics.

For example, there are specific RFID inlays that should be used in tags applied to denim wear. These RFID inlays are designed to function properly in proximity to the thick denim material, metal zippers and rivets. If the wrong inlay is used, it will decrease the tag's read performance and the retailer's ability to successfully scan the tag in the store and accurately account for the inventory.

Industry organizations have devoted considerable resources to identifying which inlays work best with different products, and most retailers specify which type of RFID inlay should be used for each apparel category. Yet the risk for error remains.

There are other factors that can degrade the quality of RFID data for apparel brands and retailers. The supplier might forget to apply the tag, in which case the item will not appear in the store's inventory. Or the supplier might attach the wrong tag to a particular garment, which will cause an incorrect SKU to show as being in stock. RFID tags also can be damaged at the factory or on their supply chain journey. A garment bearing a damaged tag might not be recognized and thus not be properly received into available inventory.

A key characteristic of RFID tags is that they provide a unique identification number for each individual piece of apparel — an identifier that can be read without line of sight to the tag. The tag's signal can be picked up through cartons, boxes and other packaging. While this core benefit of RFID streamlines and enhances accuracy of many processes, it also can create complexities for the supply chain.

Tags can be improperly encoded or numbered by the RFID tag supplier. For example, the supplier might use improper serialization techniques resulting in duplicate tag identification numbers. These identification numbers often are referred to as serialized global trade item numbers (SGTINs). Serialization poses challenges for the apparel manufacturer, which must maintain individual serialized records for every garment produced. This approach is very different from the traditional process of assigning a single barcode identification number to multiple garments of the same SKU. If a batch of RFID tags bearing the same SGTIN is attached to a shipment of shirts, the RFID reader might recognize only a single unit. In this case, a pallet of 5,000 shirts could be "read" as only one shirt.

As a leading RFID products provider, our goal is to help provide more flexibility to suppliers and meet the expectations of multiple retailers. Hope to meet challenges with you.

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