About RFID

RFID tags for production processes in the automotive industry

In the automotive industry, the use of RFID tags and RFID reading and writing devices is growing day by day at every step of the production processes, because it is the most reliable way to identify the parts that correspond to each car configured by each customer.

An RFID system can cover every identification need of every plant task from metal plates workshop until the car leaves the factory. The majority of personalizations of a car materialize during assembly, so there are many versions of the same model in the production line. With RFID solutions, the identification of each piece and each car is accurate and updated in real time.

The RFID technology is not only reliable and fast, but it is also very resistant to the roughness of manufacturing, such as high temperatures or corrosive substances. The RFID tags that are used in this sort of industrial implementations are single-use labels which are usually destroyed during or at the end of the manufacturing process.

RFID tags suitable for automotive production processes

On the one hand, there are RFID tags that will work on metal (which interferes with the operation of radio frequency waves), and on the other, those that will be on hard plastics, glass and other materials.

In addition, the materials in which the inlay should be (RFID antenna with a chip inserted on a substrate) must be resistant to the appropriate temperatures and to the substances used in manufacturing.

The RFID tags that work on metal adhere to the piece and are usually on a material that separates the metal antenna from one to two millimetres, so that it does not interfere with the performance of the RFID tag. Another solution to label with RFID metal parts is to use flanges, so that the label is hung and not attached to the sheet, but this solution is not always possible due to issues such as the type of handling of the parts.

As for the RFID tags that are going to adhere to hard plastic parts, these are adhesive RFID tags that do not need that distance between the piece and the antenna.

If you need more information about RFID tags for production processes please contact us, we are pioneer manufacturers in Europe and unique in Spain of RFID tags.

Author of the main photography: Mixabest

RFID tags for production processes in the automotive industry
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Directives and regulations that are applicable to RFID tags manufacturers

As RFID tags manufacturers, we remain vigilant to be up-to-date in relation to all directives and regulations that apply to production and commercialization of RFID tags. Do you know which ones they are? In this article we inform you.

The REACH Regulation

The REACH Regulation is the most comprehensive, updated procedure that exists in the world for the management and control of chemical products in order to preserve human health and the environment against the risks of chemical products.

The REACH regulation came into force in 2007, and recently, last June 2018, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Council of Chemical Industries (CEFIC) signed a cooperation agreement to improve the monitoring and control of chemical substances.

This regulation is applicable throughout the industry, including companies that in principle might seem that they are not linked to this commitment. Depending on your role in the industry (chemical manufacturer, distributor, importer, downstream user, supplier of items, etc.) you will register and inform about your REACH compliance in different ways.

As RFID tags manufacturers, we are intermediate users, and we must check that all our suppliers, to whom we buy substances and materials, produce according to the REACH Regulation, for example, suppliers of adhesive papers with which we make the labels.

To explain it very briefly, complying with the REACH Regulation means that the product doesn’t contain the substances on the ECHA list or these substances are at their acceptable levels for health and the environment.

In Trace ID we collect and keep updated the REACH certificates of our suppliers to be able to affirm that our resulting RFID tags are in compliance with this Regulation.

RoHS Directive

The RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) was adopted by the Council of the European Union in 2003 and establishes the absence of substances considered harmful in electrical and electronic equipment and / or materials. These substances are dangerous for human health. Therefore, its use in electrical and electronic devices is prohibited; or its presence is limited to certain quantities.

The RoHS Directive applies only to electrical and electronic equipment on the market (and all its internal components), such as information technology and telecommunications equipment, large and small appliances, lighting equipment, electrical and electronic equipment, toys, equipment entertainment and sports, and vending machines.

Information and documents proving that the products are in compliance with the restrictions specified in the RoHS Directive should be retained for five years from the time the product is marketed. Every year, manufacturers are required to update their RoHS certificates.

The substances that the RoHS Directive regulates are:

  • Lead (Pb) <1000 ppm
  • Mercury (Hg) <100 ppm
  • Cadmium (Cd) <100 ppm
  • Hexavalent chromium (Cr VI) <1000 ppm
  • Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) <1000 ppm
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) <1000 ppm
  • Butylbenzene phthalate (BBP) <1000 ppm
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) <1000 ppm
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) <1000 ppm

As manufacturers of RFID tags we follow our suppliers of chips and antennas to keep us updated with their RoHS certificates.

RED directive for electronic devices

Photo: Nicolas Thomas on Unspash.

RED Directive

The RED Directive (Directive on Radio Electronic Equipment) regulates the commercialization and suitability of radio electronic equipment and came into force in 2017.

The RED Directive defines “radio equipment” as an electrical or electronic product that intentionally emits or receives radio waves for radio communication purposes or an electrical or electronic product that requires an accessory (for example, an antenna) to intentionally emit or receive radio waves for radio communication. “Radio waves” are defined as electromagnetic waves of frequencies below 3000 GHz that propagate through space without wires.

As manufacturers of passive RFID tags, our RFID consumables are exempt from this certification. On the other hand, if tags are active RFID which are provided with a battery to emit intentionally, then they need RED compliance.

Contact with food, health products, textiles and others

To finish, we will point out that each RFID tag must comply with the proper regulations depending on its final use; for example, those RFID tags that must be in contact with food should be watertight, inside a sandwich between materials which have certificates that demonstrate compliance with the European Food Contact Regulations, such as EC 1935/2004, EC 2023/2006 and EC 10/2011.

We hope this article has been enlightening in relation to the directives and regulations applicable to the manufacture and commercialization of RFID tags. If you want to keep informed about the latest news of the RFID technology industry, subscribe to our newsletter here.

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The pharmaceutical logistics optimized with RFID tags

Pharmaceutical products are subject to specific conservation and safety requirements which condition pharmaceutical logistics (traceability, temperature control or cold chain, documentary system, anti-counterfeiting system, location, personalization, etc.). In addition, in the transport and storage of medicines, various Health and Safety Directives must be complied with, depending on the geographical area or areas involved, and types of medication.

In this article, we will show the main specific needs of pharmaceutical logistics that covers RFID technology.

Avoiding the counterfeiting of medicines

We lived in the era of counterfeits, there is no design or packaging that can not be falsified. In the pharmaceutical industry, this problem also exists, with the aggravating circumstance that the consequences of consuming a counterfeit medicine could be dramatic. In contrast, when a drug is labelled with an RFID tag, the laboratory’s source coding system prevents the counterfeit, since the RFID tag has a unique number in its memory to identify that unique container. That number stored on the label not only identifies a single container, it also includes it in a batch, in a recipe and in a patent and a trademark.

Labelling of personalized medicines

Medicine is increasingly delving into the effectiveness of personalized treatments, as the most effective method to cure the same disease in different patients. For example, a specific type of cancer needs significantly different strategies depending on the history of each patient. For this type of personalized medications, RFID tagging avoids errors while facilitating storage, transport and generation of documentation. Thanks to a well-implanted RFID system, these medications are perfectly controlled.

RFID tags for pharmaceutical logistics

Control of medication for hospitalized patients

On the other hand, a patient labelled with RFID through to the hospital bracelet, with which they identify him when he is admitted, is a patient who carries with him all his history, medication treatment and all his information. In this way, many errors in the medication are avoided.

Location of lots for removal

When a particular lot must be removed from the distribution, if the pharmaceutical products are marked with RFID tags for pharmaceutical logistics, it is very easy to locate all the items in the same lot for withdrawal from the pharmaceutical supply chain.

How drugs are labelled with RFID

The RFID tags can be placed on medicine containers in different ways. One way can be the insertion in the bottle container by injection. Another can be the label sticked to the pot or box. A third option may be to attach it as a flag to the bottle or tube. In this context, the important thing is the RFID tag is well subjected to the product in a very robust way so that it does not be missed during transport and storage.

Are you interested in buying RFID tags for logistics? Contact us!

The pharmaceutical logistics optimized with RFID tags
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Assess and quantify the profits of investing in RFID applications

The implementation of RFID applications increases every day and is not a trend that has a close ceiling, but rather the opposite, the number of companies that will implement RFID systems in their processes will increase. In this article, we will not go into the reasons why it is so important for companies to optimize the efficiency of their processes thanks to RFID technology. But we are going to focus on how companies can value and quantify the expenses and profits of investing in RFID applications, in a simple and general way.

Three success stories and a “safe bet” that can encourage you to take the step

Without wishing to be exhaustive, we will expose three emblematic success stories of the implementation of RFID technology, in addition to what we would call a safe bet that will positively impact globally, at least, to all people who check in a suitcase, and which will mean a great advance in security thanks to RFID technology when we travel.

In retail, *the case of Zara is one of the greatest successes that demonstrate the profitability of the RFID application for apparel. As of 2016, the Inditex Group implemented RFID technology in 100% of the Zara stores. According to its president, the RFID implementation would mean a saving of working time, the streamlining of logistics work, and real-time knowledge of the availability of garments both in-store and online by all employees. In addition, its system of “RFID-Alarm tags” is reusable, so its alarm hardtags can be erased and recoded up to more than 100 times. A very important fact is that the RFID system allows to control in detail the so-called unknown loss (theft, fraud of suppliers, internal and external errors, breakages…) which can lead to a loss of up to 0.8%, which in Inditex could mean up to 100 million euros. The result of the implementation of RFID in Zara has been so good that all Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe stores will have RFID systems in 2020. (*Source: Claudia Espejo Repiso, Estudio de las aplicaciones de la tecnología RFID y su grado de implantación, 2018.)

The field of logistics accumulates more than half of the implementation of RFID in the world, so our next case is also within this area. We talked about the experience with the implementation of RFID of the group of *Éxito supermarkets, leaders of retail in Latin America. Grupo Éxito reported that the cost of inventory management was reduced by 93% thanks to the implementation of RFID technology, and shrinkage was reduced by 60%. (*Source: zonalogistica.com, Implementación de tecnología RFID en Grupo Éxito.)

To finish, a case of the success of RFID applications that many do not imagine is the *RFID application for surgical instruments and hospital disposables. Its use is actually to prevent instruments and gauzes from remaining inside the patient after an intervention. Gauze and needles are the most often forgotten objects inside patients after an operation. The reason is that the manual count is not reliable. So the use of RFID technology is growing to avoid these accidents that can cost lives. Not all the profits of RFID are economic, they are also linked to the improvement of safety in health and other areas. Thanks to the RFID wristbands, each patient is linked to their history and medication errors, allergies or treatments are reduced. (* Source: intramed.net, Foreign objects retained in surgical patients.)

Finally, as a safe bet for RFID technology, we point out the decision of IATA (International Air Transport Association) to implement a global development plan to tag all suitcases with RFID, and in this way, respond to travellers’ expectations to have an exact and real-time tracking of your checked baggage.

The profitability of RFID applications

Calculating the profitability of RFID applications has the difficulty of quantifying predictive variables, such as how many sales do I lose due to stock breakage? How much money do I waste on products that will not leave the warehouse? Let’s see it below.

How to quantify the necessary investment

To calculate the necessary investment for our RFID implementation we will consider at least these costs:

  1. Acquisition of physical devices (readers, printers, portals …)
  2. Acquisition of consumables such as RFID tags.
  3. Acquisition of software.
  4. Cost of RFID system design
  5. Reorganization costs.
  6. Personnel training costs.

All this is calculated in suppliers’ budgets without any difficulty. But what about the profits, with which we want to not only amortize the investment, but add to our current annual profits? let’s keep going.

How to value the profits

Calculating the profits of RFID applications is much more complex. To calculate the profits resulting from our RFID implementation we will consider at least these returns:

  1. Greater accuracy of inventory with less manual intervention, which means a reduction in working hours.
    1.1. In this section, we would calculate the time per item of inventory to know the total annual time of carrying out the inventory, and with that, we would obtain the cost of the manual inventory. Then we would compare it with the time of carrying out the automated inventory with RFID, and thus we would obtain the profit.
  2. Avoid losses, theft, misplacements, fraud. How much money do the unknown losses represent in your company? The money that you would stop losing while avoiding the unknown losses can be based on the historical inventory figures. As we can see in the table below, Kurt Salmon calculated the reduction of the unknown loss by 33.7% in retail.
  3. Avoid stock breakage. How can you calculate the sales you lose because the customer does not find your product on the shelf, on the web or you can not serve it on time? This is more complex to calculate. According to the same study by Kurt Salmon for Accenture, the reduction of stock breakage with RFID is 40.6%.
  4. Reduction or elimination of surplus products. In the same way that we avoid stock breakages thanks to the speed and accuracy of the information provided by an RFID system; we can also avoid providing products that do not have as much output. How much money do the products that do not leave the warehouse mean in our company? We can have approximate figures thanks to the historical. The need to reduce surplus products so that they have output is reduced by 19.6%, according to the aforementioned study.
  5. Increased response speed to orders. Do we lose sales because we can not respond on time?
  6. More efficient shipments. Do we lose sales because they do not arrive or arrive too late?

To approach a calculation of the profits we have mentioned the study that Kurt Salmon carried out for Accenture in 2016 on the application of RFID in retail (you can find it on his website kurtsalmon.com). With which we have made the following table:

Profitability of the RFID application in retail according to Kurt Salmon

The profitability of the RFID application in retail according to Kurt Salmon for Accenture, 2016.


All the money that we save added to all the money that we stop losing more the money resulting from the increase of the sales by a greater efficiency thanks to the RFID technology would be the profits of the implementation of the RFID system in the company.

How long is the investment amortized and net profits of the RFID system obtained?

As well as the profits related to the improvement of processes, such as speed, efficiency, real-time updating, global communication, they are noticed immediately after the implementation of the RFID system. The economic profits start from the fact that they have amortized the investment. The desirable thing would be to amortize the investment between the first and second year of implementation of the RFID implementation. Although the implementation of an RFID system is still a big investment for many companies.

Amortization of an RFID system

Amortization of an RFID system.

A question that you can not continue avoiding:

Does it make sense for my business not to implement an RFID system?

This is a question that each organization must make to itself with a single horizon, that of continuing to be a profitable company and updated in its time tomorrow.

We hope that this article has been useful and we urge you to contact us if you have any questions regarding the purchase of your RFID tags.

Main photo source: Helloquence on Unsplash.
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Buy RFID tags for logistics of proven efficiency

We are experiencing the 4.0 logistics revolution that is transforming the industrial processes, technologies and landscapes. That is why buying RFID tags for logistics is a key issue in any industry, given that in the field of supply chain management, the digitalization of all processes has been imposed to improve logistics tracking worldwide.

E-commerce operators have consolidated as the engines of the logistics revolution that keeps growing and transforming at high speed. Giants such as Amazon, Rakuten or AliExpress lead the movements of the logistics industry and attract investors and promoters of dynamic and risk profile. Major companies such as Decathlon, Lidl, Ikea and Apple are also major players in the logistics revolution, and the logistics management is precisely a fundamental point of their success.

The logistics revolution belongs to everyone

But this revolution also belongs to medium and small companies, for many, the fourth industrial revolution, attracted by more efficient management of their assets, by a decrease in expenses and also by an increase in profits. These three advantages are a direct consequence of the application of new technologies, among which the RFID for logistics stands out, as we previously explained in the article about why RFID tags increase sales.

At Trace ID, as an RFID tags manufacturer with customers and operations worldwide and settled in Barcelona, which is evolving towards becoming the logistics capital of southern Europe, we are excited and prepared to continue growing with the logistics industry, contributing with our experience, specialized knowledge and dedication to customer service.

RFID for logistics

Forklift transporting assets with RFID tags for logistics inside a warehouse. Photograph by Elevate on Unsplash.

Manufacturers of RFID for logistics, which to choose?

What indicators show to a company that is doing very well? And excellently? Undoubtedly, in a globalized market where competition is tough and there are very good competitors, the best indicator of good performance is customer loyalty. As well as, an indicator of excellence is when clients spontaneously and on their own initiative recommend your products to other potential clients.

What our clients think about Trace ID in numbers

14% of our customers have a turnover of more than €200,000 per year. Of these customers, 67% more than 5 years ago that we are their suppliers of RFID tags, the remaining 33% more than 3 years ago that we supply RFID tags to them.

18% have a turnover of more than €100,000. 50% of these clients have been with us for more than 5 years, 25% for more than 3 years, and the other 25% for more than 2 years.

23% are customers of more than €50,000 annual billing. 70% of these clients have been repeating with us for more than 5 years, 20% more than 4 years and 10% more than 2 years.

Finally, 45% of our customers have a turnover of more than €10,000 per year, with loyalty in years of more than 5 years 32%, more than 4 years the other 32% and 3 or fewer years the rest.

Customers loyalty according to years with us and annual turnover

Customers loyalty according to years with us and annual turnover.

Word of mouth works in B2B as in B2C

Indeed, there is no more optimal circumstance to please a prospective client than being recommended by someone they trust. In B2B, where decision making is slow and prudent given the large losses that a bad decision can mean, it is even truer than in B2C, that it is decisive what other industrialists say about you.

At Trace ID we take care of our digital brand and our online communications. But it is still the relationship with customers and the consequent word of mouth our best advertising campaign. Who recommends you is naturally essential, it must be a person from your same industrial sector. The business sectors of Trace ID are divided into RFID for apparel, pharmacy, libraries, food and others of different kinds, but among all of them, the RFID for logistics stands out, which represents 50% of our manufacturing.

Business sectors of Trace ID

Business sectors of Trace ID.

We grow with our customers

The most of our clients have had growth rates of more than 20% in recent years and have continued to trust on us as their sole RFID provider, which gives us a satisfaction based on our quality. They are customers from Europe, Asia and America where our competition is fierce, but by getting involved in the customer’s challenges we have grown together and have built a relationship more near to an RFID partner than a supplier-client. In conclusion, our competitive advantage is quality and service.

These are some of the reasons why we defend ourselves as a supplier of RFID tags for logistics, and we will be happy to assist you if you contact us through this contact form.

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You are going to use RFID tags in your business, do you know the formats?

If you are going to implement an RFID system in your business, you will need a good analysis of the needs and conditions for the correct application of the system. The type of asset to be labelled, the environment in which the system will be developed and the objectives to be covered by the implementation, will be the decisive characteristics when designing the system and choosing its components. In Trace ID, as manufacturers and converters of RFID tags, we know well the formats that best adapt to the needs of an implemented RFID system, and in this article, we will describe them. But first, you can visit our RFID tags section in this link to have an idea about sizes of the RFID antennas.

Most common formats of RFID tags

When we talk about the format in this article, we refer to the size and materials; and we do not go into describing other issues such as the design of the antenna, the characteristics of the chip or the range of each type of label.

The size and materials influence the performance of the RFID tag and also its suitability within the RFID system. In jewelry, we will need very small RFID tags, while in an RFID clothing system we can use RFID tags of average size around 5×3 cm.

To begin with, we start from knowing that a dry inlay is an antenna with a chip inserted in a non-adhesive PET coil.

Wet inlay

The manufacture of wet inlays is the first conversion through which all RFID tags pass, the dry inlay is not stamped nor on an adhesive support that to be able to stick on another surface. All the dry inlay to be RFID tags go through the process of conversion from dry inlay to wet inlay in which we will obtain die-cut adhesive labels on a coil of siliconized paper.

White wet inlay

White wet inlays are wet RFID tags that have undergone a second conversion to add a white front face, commonly polypropylene or vellum paper.

As white wet are RFID tags with paper face, we can print them according to the needs of the client (with a logo, a bar code, text or number, etc.)

RFID tags “customized”

So far, the level of customization that wet and white wet allow us is limited to the size and shape of the die.

When the customer orders the labels with a front of other materials and colors, a white wet is no longer produced, but the second conversion process through which the wet inlays pass transforms them into RFID labels with a more customized appearance, and they are also printable

Encapsulated RFID tag

Sometimes RFID tags must be sealed between waterproof and/or special materials. This may be required to avoid contact of the RFID tag with the outside or by peculiarities of the environment that may affect the performance of the tag. It would be the case of labels for the food industry or for laundries, to tell two examples.

An RFID tag on foam

We have already mentioned that the environment can affect the performance of labels. A very common case of this problem is the RFID tags that have to work in environments with a high presence of metals. In these cases, RFID solutions are usually implemented with labels made of foam. The foam prevents the contact of the RFID tag with the metal.

RFID tags on PET for high temperatures

Another characteristic that can affect the type of materials in which the RFID tags are manufactured is the temperature. There are in the PET market that withstands high temperatures up to 300ºC.

RFID tags on PET for high temperaturesWe have given a first overview of the options for manufacturing RFID tags. In summary, once the antenna with the chip has been chosen, we can customize the shape of the die, the size of the adhesive label and the printing on the front, and in specific cases, other customizations depending on other needs of the client.

For any questions or for more information, do not hesitate to contact us following the link.

 

Sources
Main image: Collage made with one of the Trace ID’s photos and a free vector created by Rawpixel.com - Freepik.com.
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RFID for apparel, is it profitable?

Today, buying tags of RFID for apparel can be the decision that marks the success or failure in the effectiveness of the traceability system for your clothing business. The retail clothing sector is very dynamic and changing, and often leads the way of what innovations are necessary for fields such as logistics, customer service, marketing or e-commerce. The RFID technology industry obviously not ignores these challenges and, as a result, RFID solutions for clothing increasingly focused on improving the effectiveness of the retail sector of fashion and accessories are being developed. Next, we are going to describe some.

Increased customer loyalty thanks to an intelligent RFID system

A solution of RFID for apparel cannot be satisfied with control and security in the supply chain, the best logistics management, and the highest accuracy of the inventories updated in real time. These three factors are very important but not enough for the retail sector of fashion and accessories. In addition, a good RFID clothing system can greatly improve customer satisfaction. By improving customer satisfaction, it also reinforces its loyalty to the store and the brand.

How customer loyalty increases with RFID for apparel

First of all, having a thorough and real-time inventory control gives us a lot of valuable information about the behaviour of customers. If we know immediately which garments are the most sold, we can react in time to not run out of these garments in the store, in this way, if the customer always finds what he looks for in our store, he will always return, and in addition, we will not lose sales. The behaviour of customers is recurrent, this means that if a customer always finds what he wants in our store, he will be less likely to browse in other stores, instead, if he does not find it, he will go to other stores in his search and surely he will return there.

Secondly, with the RFID system and the appropriate RFID tags, the garment label can provide a more complete and satisfactory customer experience. We are talking about a new RFID solution of RFID for apparel, which provides the garment label of a UHF RFID antenna and another HF RFID antenna (which has the same frequency than NFC). The UHF antenna is ideal for RFID traceability in the supply chain and logistics management, however, with the HF antenna, we can provide the customer with a better experience and thus improve their satisfaction. For example, the customer can scan the HF tag with his smartphone and obtain information about available sizes and colors, if the price is discounted, if he has a certificate of authenticity of the brand, or even participate in raffles and associated marketing actions to that product or brand, among other actions, which result in a greater involvement of the customer with our store. If you want more information about this RFID solution, please contact us and ask our technician about the “dual RFID tag”.

Greater security for your retail business of clothing and accessories

Thanks to the radiofrequency traceability, marked garments are not lost, robberies are avoided, and their authenticity is assured. These three factors ultimately result in a reduction in expenses and losses. So an RFID system is always profitable, and in addition, it is also a very good investment.

Sources
Main image: by Yuriy Trubitsyn on Unsplash.
Secondary image: by rawpixel on Unsplash.
RFID for apparel, is it profitable?
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The complete guide about RFID tags (II)

Part two: The RFID applications

In the previous article, the first part of this Guide, we describe how RFID technology works. In the current article, we will briefly explain how RFID technology is applied. You can expand this information contained with our previous blog-post: Where do you use RFID in your day to day life?

The information here explained is generic, but you surely already know that in Trace ID we customize the RFID solutions as much as possible. If you want more detailed information and guidance focused on your business needs, get in touch with one of our technicians by writing to info@trace-id.com or by filling out our contact form.

The importance of correctly choosing the RFID tag according to your application

RFID tags can be very different depending on the specifications of each activity, obviously, it is not the same an RFID tag for a jewelry product, which is very valuable and small in size, than an RFID tag for RTU (returnable transport unit).

Most common RFID applications

RFID solutions are designed for the traceability of things, people and animals. Each type of business or activity will need different RFID systems, but in addition, each client may need a certain degree of personalization due to the characteristics of the environment and place where they develop their business or activity. Therefore, the most common applications are those described below, but in Trace ID we always take into account and offer a degree of customization appropriate to the specific need of each client.

Supply chain management

RFID for supply chain fully improves the global logistics chain and increases efficiency by automating the identification and tracking processes. The largest retail companies and their suppliers, currently, are already marking all their pallets, boxes and items with RFID tags. Among the most significant benefits of working with a global RFID system implemented are better customer service, faster billing, greater accuracy of shipments (with faster and more reliable deliveries), fewer stock breakages. All these benefits result in the optimization of processes, the streamlining of documentation, cost savings and greater economic gains.

RFID tags for supply chain

RFID tags for supply chain

retail

We had already talked about the benefits of RFID technology for greater customer satisfaction and to increase sales. To summarize, we will simply emphasize that thanks to RFID technology, we increase security in tracking items to avoid theft and loss, as well as to fight against counterfeiting. Also thanks to RFID systems, the logistics between manufacturing, distribution centers and stores is more agile and effective. Of course, the effectiveness of e-commerce is also increased with a suitable RFID application. The sectors of retail where RFID technology has become essential are:

  • The fashion industry: clothing, shoes and accessories
  • Jewelry
  • Cosmetics

Trace ID has experience in all three sectors, and it is especially in RFID for jewelry in which we have more extensively been worked.

Health industry: hospitals

The health system needs applications and tools to make possible the management, safety and monitoring of assets and people in hospitals and between all the centers that integrate this system globally, from primary care centers to large state hospitals. It is for all these reasons, that RFID technology for the healthcare industry is an indispensable tool nowadays and that it will continue to grow and be implanted in depth.

The RFID for hospitals is useful, basically, to mark surgical and disposable tools for surgical use, which must be under a very precise control to avoid accidents or losses. Also for the control of the patient and staff access to the different areas of the hospital, as well as for linking each patient with their history through the information stored in their RFID tag.

Access control

Companies, organizations and institutions need systems of access control and traceability in their buildings. For security and for the collection of very valuable information for the management of people in organizations. Access control systems are also used in hotels to lock doors and save energy.

RFID tags for supply chain.

RFID tags for supply chain.

Aviation and baggage control

The tracking and management of baggage in airports and air transport is easier, safer and more effective thanks to RFID technology.

Sports timing

Keeping track of the participants’ timings in races and other sporting events is another of the most common ways to take advantage of the possibilities of RFID technology.

Libraries, files and document control

The management of libraries and documentation has traditionally been a very manual work managed unit by unit. On the other hand, when the books and/or documents are provided with an RFID tag that gives them a unique identification number, the tracking is more precise and effective, besides it is a less tedious work, since the system can read the identification of many units at a time, avoiding manual identification unit by unit.

Temperature control in the cold chain

The main concern of the food industry is the sanitary safety of the products, so the control of the temperature in the cold chain of the products is essential. In future articles, we will discuss the experiences of Trace ID as a manufacturer of RFID labels for the food industry, among which there is the development of a label with a battery for monitoring the temperature of a food item. But if your interest is focused on any solution within the food industry, do not hesitate to contact us.

The future of RFID technology

RFID technology has many challenges ahead and open paths to develop. Especially in the areas of better customer service in the retail sector, with the appearance of dual labels, which integrate a UHF antenna with an HF antenna, and in the sector of hospitals and primary care centers of the health system.

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The complete guide about RFID tags (I)

Part one: The manufacturing of customized RFID tag

With this article, Trace ID wants to offer the most complete possible information about RFID tags in an online article, in a brief, clarifying way. Our purpose is that who is in need of the most complete information about RFID tags could find it here reunited in a unique article on the web. We consider it useful for all users interested in RFID technology, and in order to have this information updated and verified, we hope that the users don’t hesitate to contact us at info@trace-id.com.

The RFID technology

The acronym RFID means Radio Frequency Identification and named the system of gathering together, storing and updating data through radio waves. The basic purpose of an RFID system is the distinctive traceability of objects, animals and humans, providing them with an individual number within the RFID tag they are attached with.

The RFID technology precedents go back to twenties, however, it wasn’t developed for the civil use of industry and commerce with a global spread, up to only two decades ago. Perhaps, you could find interesting the history of the RFID start we have explained previously here.

What is an RFID system and what is it for?

The RFID system is the combination of several elements which storage, reproduce and update the information by interacting with each other. These elements are:

  • an RFID tag,
  • an RFID reader,
  • a device for storage and manage data.

We can include these elements within the hardware category, but the RFID systems work also thanks to specific software, communications protocols and standards, all of them created for that managing data is possible worldwide. About RFID standards and protocols, we wrote previously here and maybe it could be of your interest.

Basic concepts about RFID tags

Following, we are going to focus on the RFID tags properly speaking, and afterwards, we will detail the difference with customized RFID tags.

What is an RFID tag?

An RFID tag is an item formed by:

  • an antenna,
  • a radio transducer,
  • a chip attached to the antenna by a resin that encapsulates it
  • a support substrate for these elements
  • and finally, an adhesive substance that makes possible that the tag could be affixed where it was necessary.

Therefore, a customized RFID tag could have other varied components depending on the client specific needs, from a foam face, or can be encapsulated to protect the tag, or being between two different materials like paper and fabric, also having different sizes and shapes, or prints.

RFID tag frequencies

RFID frequency refers to the size of the radio waves used to communicate between RFID system components. The bigger is a wave the lower is the number of repetitions that a complete waveform can do within one second. 1Hz equals one wave in one second, 1KHz equals a thousand waves per second, and 1MHz equals one million waves per second. The kind of frequency determines some behaviours of the whole RFID system, for example, the lower is frequency the slower is the data read rate but it has higher capabilities for well reading near metals or liquids. On the other hand, the higher is frequency the faster is the data read rate and the longer are the read ranges, but unfortunately, it has more sensitivity to interferences due to metals or fluids in the environment.
Low-frequency (LF RFID) covers from 125KHz to 134KHz and provides a read range of 10cm. High-frequency (HF RFID) usually operates at 13.56MHz and has read ranges from 10cm to 1m. Finally, Ultra high frequency (UHF RFID) covers 433MHz and from 860MHz to 960MHz. The read range of UHF systems can be as long as 12m, and it has a faster data transfer rate than LF or HF, but it’s the most sensitive to interference and it can’t read through metal or water.

How RFID tags are manufactured

The RFID antennas

To produce RFID tags, first, it’s made an antenna design based on an aim or needs that we want to solve. The antenna design could be created with various software. In Trace ID, our developer designs the antennas with Genesys, a specialized software of the latest generation. Later the antennas are designed we can already manufacture them.

The antennas that Trace ID commercializes are made of aluminium, but other could be made of copper, metallic tints, or even some are now being developed of carbon fibre.

The aluminium antennas are manufactured from bobbins of aluminium on PET that measure very few microns of thickness. A reserve that marks out the area of the antenna is applied on the aluminium in order to remove the surplus, so only the aluminium antenna shapes remain over the PET bobbin. Once the antennas bobbins are ready, they can pass to the next step for the antennas manufacturing.

RFID antennas

A bobbin of RFID antennas over PET.

RFID chips

The RFID chips storage the information that is broadcasted through the radio waves thanks to the antenna and the RFID reader too. The chip is stimulated when receives a radiofrequency petition sent from a reader, and, in turn, broadcasts the data that itself contains.

This stimulation can be active or passive. An RFID tag is passive when it doesn’t bring a battery that produces the power needed for broadcasting back the information. So, the circuit is activated because by induction and the antenna takes up the most of the space in the RFID tag, because the antenna has the double function of receiving the power and broadcasting the radio signal with the data stored in the chip.

The Trace ID’s tags are equipped with the chips from the two leading providers in the RFID industry that are IMPINJ and NXP.

The bonding machines

The next step is the chip’s insertion in the antennas. This task is done in the bonding machines. There are various machines for manufacturing RFID technology, in Trace ID we are provided by the best manufacturers, in this case, the bonding and converting machines are from Mühlbauer.

The antennas bobbin enters the bonding machine and the chips are attached in an exact point of each antenna in the bobbin by a resin called epoxide. When the bobbin gets out, it has become a bobbin of “dry inlays” this is how are named the antennas equipped with a chip.

The dry inlay

As we have already said, the dry inlay is the antenna equipped with a chip over a PET bobbin. It lacks adhesive and it doesn’t have the shape of a tag, so these dry inlays are not tags yet.

Dry RFID inlays

A bobbin of dry RFID inlays in two rows. Antennas with chips over PET.

The converting machines

The converting machine is the machine where the dry inlays bobbin becomes a bobbin of “wet inlays”, that means that the bobbin no longer brings only dry inlays but it will bring the inlays cut as tags and it will have adhesive substance.

The manufacturing of the wet inlays

In this machine, the dry inlays that are over the PET layer will become covered by an adhesive substance over a layer of siliconized paper. Afterwards, they are cut according to the tag measure needed. The cutting affects all the layers except the siliconized paper. Finally, the surplus is removed and only the wet inlays remain over the siliconized paper with the shape of a tag. So, the wet inlays can already be taken off the siliconized paper and be stuck on over any surface like tags.

Wet RFID inlays

A bobbin of wet RFID inlays. RFID self-adhesive tags.

The manufacturing of the white wet inlays

The process of manufacturing the “white wet inlays” is the same as the wet inlays manufacturing but it is added too a layer of paper as a frontal face of the tag.

White wet RFID inlays

A bobbin of white wet RFID inlays. RFID self-adhesive tags with frontal face.

Customized RFID label formats

As we have previously said, the customized RFID label formats can vary a lot depending on the specific need of each RFID deployment. Even so, we can count the most common formats in the RFID industry.

  • Sandwich: the RFID inlay is inserted between two sheets. These sheets hold the inlay and are usually printed with human reading information.
  • Encapsulated: it is generally encapsulated to protect the inlay against fluids.
  • On foam: the foam provides a necessary thickness to separate the inlay from for example metals. This is done because radio frequency is affected especially by the presence of metals.

Related to the size, it can vary a lot too, from tiny labels that do not exceed 10mm, to big ones about 10 cm or more. The same for shapes, that can be very different depending on the design from the client.

The manufacturing of customized RFID labels

When the customer order has been of customized RFID labels and it doesn’t of wet inlays or white wet inlays, anyways we have to produce wet inlays first. Always it is needed to manufacture wet inlays to produce customized RFID labels later. In addition, the frontal faces can be of very different materials.

Manufacturing steps

In the same converting machine where we have manufactured the wet inlays, we make a second process to add the frontal layer required for the customer, and to cut the customized shape of the label according to the client design.

Finally, we already have the individual labels attached to a bobbin of siliconized paper. In the photos, you have been able to see the examples of dry inlay, wet, white wet, and labels.

Customized RFID labels

A bobbin of customized RFID labels for jewelry.

Materials that  form an RFID label

The materials are very diverse, form papers to plastics, on the other hand, using metals will be avoided, because they affect the right working of radiofrequency. The only metals we find will be in the chip and the antenna.

The codification and printing

After the manufacturing of RFID labels they pass to the codification line, and some cases. also to printing step. In Trace ID, we codify the labels by SATO machines, that also can print plain elements or barcodes.

Checking test

RFID tags go through various quality controls in relation to their performance, correct coding, etc. In Trace ID, we execute the quality control through measurement and test solutions of the Voyantic brand.

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We hope that all this information will be useful for all those interested in RFID technology. If you want to continue expanding the topic, we recommend you to take a look at the rest of the blog articles, and especially to Understanding an RFID datasheet. Soon we will publish the second part of this extensive topic to complete the article with: The applications of RFID technology.

The complete guide about RFID tags (I)
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RFID tags for sports timing

Popular sporting events open to professional and non-professionals athletes, such as urban or trail running races or marathons, need timing solutions with zero or minimum margin of error. In addition, these solutions must be simple to set, easy to operate, and scalable to a wide range of magnitudes of sporting events.

Thanks to RFID technology, the timing in this sort of sporting events reaches all these requirements, while it is much more accurate regardless of the number of participants. RFID timing systems consist of disposable RFID tags that can be attached on the dorsal, sports shoes or other clothes worn by the runner without much effort. Plus the appropriate hardware and software for the emission, reception and recording of data.

The benefits of RFID technology for the organization of sporting events

The most important marathons around the world use RFID systems to time the runners and have control over the route of the finishers. Marathons like the celebrated in New York with 50,000 finishers in 2016 or like the Berlin Marathon that, having reached the 45,000 runners in 2009, is now limited to 40,000 participants, would not be possible without an RFID timing system.

The most effective timing system

If the RFID system is set and used in the right way, it is the safest and most effective system to achieve a perfect timing and monitoring of the participants without the possibility of error.

Perfect synchronization and updating of data in real time

In Trace ID we plan the best RFID solution for each sporting event. For a perfect operation of the system composed of UHF tags and RFID antennas and readers. Always considering the peculiarities that can affect the performing of the system such as humidity or the high presence of metals.

Better organization of the sporting event

The fast and easy real-time data collection provided by an RFID timing system, nowadays, is indispensable. The RFID tag assigned to each participant will make it possible, not only the timing and control of the course of each individual participant but also the easiest and fastest publication of the results in the online and offline media.

More profitability

The implementation of RFID timing systems releases the sporting events organization of the need for the work of a large number of volunteers and/or workers, who control the routes and entrances and exits of participants. Thus, the organization of the event can reduce this human team or use it in more interesting and useful tasks for the improvement of the competition. In addition, the cost of UHF RFID tags has been reduced a lot while they have become better and more precise, so at the same time, they are disposable at the end of the race.

For all these benefits, an RFID timing system is essential for a sporting event where participants need to be timed. On the other hand, the possibilities and uses of RFID technology are very varied. If you want to know more about it, keep browsing our website www.trace-id.com.

Sources:
 Photo by Finn Gross Maurer on Unsplash
RFID tags for sports timing
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