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TI, RFID4U propose smart processes for RFID label

Posted: 08 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TI? RFID4U? UHF? RFID? smart packaging?

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) and RFID4U proposed that proper tag testing and verification can increase the chances of achieving "five-nines" performance (five read points at a 99.999 percent read rate) for RFID-labeled products.

In the white paper Practical Performance Expectations for Smart Packaging, TI and RFID4U outlined a systematic approach for end-users and systems integrators to increase the performance of their UHF-based RFID systems. Mark Brown, RFID4U's VP of professional services and Chris Cook, TI-RFid Systems' field application specialist co-authored the paper.

According to the paper, the approach includes establishing a baseline of initial performance, conducting a performance analysis of tags, and factoring in variables in product and packaging materials as well as pallet size and case quantity. The paper also provides information on how to measure tag performance and the critical parameters to consider by providing an overview of the testing types, metrics and pros/cons of static and dynamic methods.

"RFID has been getting a bit of a bad rap due to the expectations that tags can be read 100 percent of the time at every point for every product," said Brown. "With proper empirical testing, companies can find the best tags and labels for their application, and gain the data they need for improved supply chain tracking."

An "RF-challenged" product, like those containing liquid or metal, may only achieve a 50 percent read rate at an individual read point. The paper proposes practical suggestions to increase read performance including the use of more sensitive tags, upgrading the reader interrogation zones with more sensitive antennas or adding additional read zones at new locations in the supply chain.

"It's important to test a statistically significant sample of both tags/labels and products, and perform the test in a real-world environment," said Cook. "Starting with well-tagged assets puts you way ahead in achieving the kind of visibility and performance from your RFID system that can drive true business process improvements."

Meanwhile, TI worked with Ryerson, a metal services processor provider as well as with distributor and solution providers Ship2Save and Metalcraft on a case study that outlines procedures on improving RFID tag performance. To reduce RF interference, according to the study, foam separation can increase the distance of the tag from the metal products being tagged which amplified the RF signal. As a result, tag reads above 200 per second were achieved, increasing the read range up to 15 percent. "Bad reads" were reduced to one percent, bringing "five-nines" read performance closer to reality for this distributor of "RF-challenged" materials.

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