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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

When it comes to testing a specific tag, the guideline identifies effective processes, such as testing a sample of at least 30 tagged items, and offers criteria for receiving a pass or fail grade. It also indicates what test equipment can be used, and how a "Select" and "Query" command should be employed to capture tag ID numbers via an RFID reader. It breaks down test configurations according to categories that include shorts and skirts, belts, and plastic packaged apparel such as underwear.

The benefits resulting from the TIPP guideline are twofold, Nuce reports. "It will remove barriers for adoption," she says, by clarifying for both retailers and suppliers how to go about effectively adopting RFID technology. The other gain, she adds, is that TIPP helps foster a collaborative environment "that's effectively saying 'we want something that is working for everyone.'"

Auburn University RFID Center's Justin Patton
Patton says he expects the Auburn University RFID Lab to be busier than ever due to the TIPP guideline's release, since retailers will be conducting testing to determine what specific grade they need for each product in their stores and warehouses. Meanwhile, he adds, suppliers will carry out their own testing to identify the best tags for their products to meet those grades.

The lab has already conducted numerous tests, Patton says, to identify specifications for common use cases and products. "I feel we have a pretty good leg up now as we push this out to a global audience," he states, explaining that companies beyond North America can benefit from the guideline since the requirements for item-level tagging tend to be the same, with only some frequency differences. "We're absolutely ready to roll this out globally."

Further ahead, Patton envisions that retailers will use the TIPP guideline while designing their stores. For instance, a retailer could first decide the RFID tagging grade it would like to assign to EPC-tagged products, and then build the store out to meet that grade. If the retailer plans to stack blue jeans on shelves, for instance, it could design the shelves to encourage high read rates. Wooden shelves, with smaller stacks of jeans, could enable better tag reading than metal shelves with larger stacks, for example.

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