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Syscan Unveils Tags for Metal Objects

The new 'Metal-Mate' line consists of both read-only and read-write transponders for auto manufacturing and other markets.
Jul 08, 2002July 8, 2002 -- You often hear people say that RFID has one big shortcoming as a supply chain technology -- it doesn't work around metal objects. Don't tell that to Syscan International. The Montreal company has just introduced a new line of RFID transponders designed to be embedded in metal objects.

The new 'Metal-Mate' line consists of both read-only and read-write transponders that operate in the low- and high- frequency ranges. The transponders and specially designed readers are manufactured by AEG ID of Germany.

The tags were originally designed to be used on the chassis of Mercedes-Benz cars in production. Syscan proved the tags could work in metal objects in a recently completed installation in a Canadian meat processing plant. The RFID tags were embedded in the meat hooks.

The tags are round disks, 13 mm in diameter by 2 mm thick (one quarter of an inch in diameter by one sixteenth of an inch). Syscan drills a whole in the metal object, inserts the transponder and fills the whole with a specially created epoxy. The transponders can withstand temperatures of up to 220 degrees Celsius.

The system is able to overcome interference from metal for two reasons. AEG uses ultra-fine wire so it can wind more strands into the antenna coil. Dan Clune, VP of RFID for Syscan, says you can fit 25,000 strands of the antenna wire through the eye of a needle.

And the reader uses a triple-coil antenna system to pick up the signal from the tag. The system was patented by AEG. Most readers have only a single antenna to transmit and receive.

In addition to the meat processing industry, Syscan is targeting automobile manufacturers and gas distributors as potential markets for the new tags. Clune says Syscan has a pilot with one automaker that is embedding tags in engines and a gas company that is testing the tags in gas cylinders.

The RFID tags cost about C$10 (US$6.50) installed, and the special readers cost C$2,000 (US$1,313) to C$4,000 (US$2,626). The Metal Mate tags and readers are available immediately.
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