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GS1 Expects Tagged-Item Performance Protocol Guideline to Boost RFID Adoption

The new guideline assigns grades to EPC UHF RFID tag specifications so that a supplier can tag its products with an RFID label that meets all the needs of retailers selling those products in their stores.
By Claire Swedberg

"The guidelines are intended to enable retailers to create their own RFID performance requirements, based on their own use cases," Nuce says, while suppliers can use the guidelines to gain some flexibility into how they meet a retailer's requirements.

The workgroup that developed the TIPP guideline includes individuals from several retailers using the technology, such as Macy's, Kohl's and Lord and Taylor, in addition to merchandise suppliers including Levi Strauss and Co. and Jockey International. RFID technology companies Avery Dennison, Checkpoint Systems and Smartrac Technology Group, among others, are also members.

GS1 US's Melanie Nuce
The group has been developing the TIPP Guideline throughout the past 18 months, working closely with the Auburn University RFID Lab, which had already developed its ARC method that is used for identifying the best RFID tag for a particular product and environment. ARC provides detailed specifications related to the results of sensitivity and backscatter power testing on a variety of products, in different scenarios (such as hanging on a rack, stacked on a metal or wooden shelf, or moved through a warehouse portal on a forklift), with different types of readers and fixed reader antenna orientations, and with different tag orientations. Companies from around the United States, as well as some in the United Kingdom and Europe, have worked with the Auburn University RFID Lab to learn what specifications are needed for their individual requirements.

The TIPP workgroup has now assigned grades to various specifications from the ARC testing results, explains Justin Patton, the Auburn University RFID Center's director. A retailer can use the TIPP guideline to simply look up a grade for a specific product category and environment. But in most cases, he adds, it will also utilize the guideline to conduct its own testing first, in order to ensure that a specific grade will meet its requirements. Once the retailer shares that grade with its suppliers, those companies can then use the guideline to conduct their own testing to determine the tags and orientation that will meet the grade requirements.

Therefore, Nuce says, instead of requiring suppliers to apply specific tags to the products it will receive, "the retailer can say, 'The tag needs to meet these requirements,' and those requirements are translated into a grade."

If multiple retailers have different, conflicting grade requirements for a product the supplier sells to them, that supplier can opt to meet the most stringent grade for one retailer, and then use the tag best suited for that grade on the products it sells to all retailers. "It gives the supplier flexibility," Nuce says.

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