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ADASA Developing Wearable Tag Encoder

The company is testing a mobile tag encoder for order pickers to wear while tagging cases of goods.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Mar 09, 2006Eugene, Ore.-based ADASA first entered the RFID marketplace in 2004 to create a system of recovering and possibly reusing passive RFID tags, in order to divert them from landfills and extend their usefulness. ADASA has now introduced another new concept to the marketplace: a wearable RFID encoder (interrogator) called the PAD3500. Comprised of a cartridge that holds a roll of up to 500 1-by-4-inch RFID inlays, the PAD3500 also comes with a small, battery-powered RFID interrogator made by Boulder, Colo., RFID systems developer SkyeTek.

"The PAD3500 was developed in order to be used with whatever preexisting systems end users have in place," says Clarke McAllister, ADASA's CEO. A Fortune 50 company is in the early stages of testing the device, he explains, to see how it might be used to integrate the tagging of cases into its different order-picking scenarios.


ADASA's wearable RFID encoder, the PAD3500.
According to ADASA, the device is designed to enable companies to integrate RFID tagging into any product-picking system they use. This avoids the need to divert goods to a separate tagging station, where (if already palletized) they would need to be depalletized, tagged and repalletized.

To comply with RFID mandates from their customers, many suppliers have installed RFID printer-encoders to produce shipping labels with embedded RFID inlays and printed bar codes, encoding them with shipping and order information. The ADASA encoder would be used in place of these devices, though end users would continue to use non-RFID label printers to generate the shipping labels needed to identify the cases through bar coding and human-readable data.

McAllister says that during the ongoing testing, the PAD3500 will be used with a number of order-picking processes, including voice-to-pick, in which the order picker receives computer-generated instructions transmitted to a headset, or directions from a mobile computer mounted on a forklift or other material-handling vehicle.

Using a built-in Wi-Fi link, the PAD3500 is designed to receive encoding commands from the user's RFID middleware or device management software, which would interface with the user's warehouse management software. The EPC encoded to each label would be associated with the SKU of the goods being picked, as well as the order information.

McAllister says using the PAD3500 might result in fewer damaged RFID inlays. RFID printer-encoders, he claims, generate enough electrostatic discharge during the printing process to damage a significant number of inlays. McAllister notes that an inlay can also be damaged when a label is peeled off a roll of tags while being dispensed.Exactly how many fewer nonfunctioning inlays the PAD3500 will produce compared with printer-encoders won't be known until analysis of the test results is complete, later this year.

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