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New RFID Staple Tag for Rough Wood Tracks Timber

Utility Composites' SunDog tag can be stapled directly into a tree, plank, pallet, railroad tie or other wooden item, with a read range of 35 feet, and can be read through water.
By Claire Swedberg

That long read range has enabled a host of other applications as well, the company has found. For instance, the staple is being applied to utility poles. The unique ID number encoded on each tag is linked to a specific pole and location. Then, when maintenance of the poles takes place, workers can pass each pole and read its ID without ever leaving their vehicles. They can view the pole's history, as well as when and how it was last maintained.

If an employee notices a problem and needs to set up a service call—if a pole is leaning, for example—he or she can read that tag from the vehicle and input the reason for the service request. Workers could use that data to quickly identify which pole needs to be serviced.

Andrew Frascone
The staple can also be used on wooden pallets. Currently, RFID tags are being built into plastic re-usable pallets, though Frascone notes that these tags have a reduced read range. With the staple tags applied to wooden pallets, logistics companies, manufacturers or retailers could capture data about goods linked to a particular pallet as it passes through a dock door.

In addition, the system could be used to tag live trees. Lumber companies managing a forest of trees to be harvested can tag all of the trees within a specific area and link each tag ID with information about when the corresponding tree will be mature and ready for harvesting. The technology has also been tested in chemical and pressure treatment processes, so that the tags can be used for utility pole and railroad tie manufacturers.

Frascone says the SunDog staple tag has been tested underwater and has been found to transmit data when submerged. That, he adds, makes it a good solution for use cases in which tags may become wet or immersed in liquid, such as poles stacked in a yard with pooling water. The system is also being investigated by companies that provide crane ramps for construction sites.

Agencies or other companies can utilize the tags to monitor the health of living trees in a forest. The tags would help to track the identity of each tree, Frascone says. "If there were a disease in the forest," he states, "they could easily identify the trees that are affected."

Utility Composites is selling its product to systems integrators, as well as to end users. "We're not a software company and we're technology-agnostic," he says. The firm has the specialized staple guns made by a third-party provider.

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