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Avery Dennison Targets Retail Deployments With Mobile Printer, Robomart Partnership

The company's new Pathfinder 6059 handheld RFID printer can create and apply RFID tags for retail goods and logistics within five seconds, while its EPC UHF RFID tags will be used on Robomart's products when the self-driving store system brings stores to customers wherever they are.
By Claire Swedberg

The Android-based device comes with a barcode scanner and an EPC UHF RFID reader-encoder and printer. Users first scan the barcode on a product or box label, then the device creates a serial number linked to that barcode and encodes that number into the RFID inlay built into the label that is being printed and attached. The user can simply place the device's nose against the item, and the printer will print and affix the label.

By using a wireless or Ethernet connection, the device forwards the data to the user's software. The printer system can work with Avery Dennison's software, or an application programming interface (API) can be employed to leverage the user's own software. RFID adoption in the retail market has been growing to meet omnichannel demands in apparel, Yost notes, and increasingly in the food sector as well. Moreover, logistics providers are under pressure to get products delivered faster than ever before.

In most RFID retail applications, tags are applied at the source of manufacture, but that creates a gap for smaller stores and companies that may want to employ RFID but need to attach tags to products after they are received. Many large retailers have a need for a portable label printer as well, Yost notes, since about 10 to 15 percent of their merchandise typically still arrives without RFID tags. Existing RFID printers weren't designed for the smaller number of tags that might need to be applied where the goods are located—on a store shelf or at a warehouse dock door.

Grocers are moving toward RFID technology for use in self-checkout applications. By applying an RFID label to each product, they can enable shoppers to scan a credit card or a loyalty card at a self-checkout station, and RFID reader antennas at the exit will capture the items being removed and charge the customer's credit card accordingly.

Another category is logistics. A parcel delivery company is testing the Pathfinder 6059 for use on irregular packages to better track them through the distribution center. Workers scan a parcel's barcode, then create and affix an RFID label to that package, which is encoded with an RFID number that is also printed on the front. It is then read as the parcel is sorted to a specific van for delivery. In that way, the company can ensure that all parcels are loaded onto the correct van, and that none end up missing.

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