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Can RFID Be Used to Track Steel Beams, Plates and Slabs?

Posted By RFID Journal, 03.09.2015

If so, can you cite a few examples?

—Name withheld


Absolutely. In the current issue of RFID Journal's digital magazine, we have a Vertical Focus article on the industry's use of RFID (see Nerves of Steel). ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, one of the world's largest steel producers, is using ultrahigh-frequency RFID tags to track 30-ton steel slabs from Brazil to its German processing factories.

Corinth Pipeworks S.A., headquartered in Athens, Greece, supplies steel pipe to the oil and gas industry. The company brings in and processes steel on a customer-order basis, so Corinth is using ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) magnetic tags that can be attached to the inside of a pipe in order to manage inventory in a yard and improve shipping accuracy. At the end of processing, a worker employs a handheld reader to ensure that the correct pipes are being sent to a particular customer, and then removes the tags for reuse on the next project—unless the customer wants to keep the tags to continue tracking on its own end, in which case it pays a fee to Corinth.

There are other examples as well. Age Steel, for example, is a finalist for this year's RFID Journal Award for Most Innovative Use of RFID (see Finalists Unveiled for Ninth Annual RFID Journal Awards). The company tags steel slabs and uses a drone to conduct inventory counts automatically within a 65,000-square-meter yard (see RFID-Reading Drone Tracks Structural Steel Products in Storage Yard).

You do need special tags, of course, to track steel. An ordinary passive UHF RFID label would be detuned by the metal, and the tag would not be readable. But several companies are achieving high read rates with tags designed for tracking steel.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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