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Vizinex, Barcodes Inc. Deliver Specialized RFID Tag for DOT Bridge

Under pressure of a four-week deadline, the companies designed, manufactured and printed a label specialized for electric cable installed on a transit bridge, which could enable workers to locate, identify and service individual conduits.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 15, 2019

Facing a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) deadline to complete a bridge's electrical installation within four weeks, RFID company Vizinex custom-designed and manufactured an RFID tag for 600 pieces of conduit. With the passive UHF RFID tag, the DOT could manage its maintenance schedule automatically for each piece of conduit based on RFID tag reads.

Vizinex provided the RFID tag to systems integrator Barcodes Inc. for its customer, an electrical contractor that has asked to remain unnamed. The contractor had already completed the electrical installation and simply needed to tag the conduit according to the DOT's specifications. The project started just as the contractor's electrical installation deadline approached.

The contractor had expected this final step of the project to be fairly straightforward: simply applying the tags dictated, according to very specific requirements from the DOT. However, what had seemed like a simple task—printing and encoding RFID tags to each piece of conduit installed on the bridge—became more challenging when the contractor and its label provider, Barcodes, found that the RFID tag the transportation agency was requesting didn't yet exist.

Any delay in the labeling of conduit would result in a penalty for the contractor. Therefore, Barcodes took its challenge to Vizinex. The Pennsylvania-based RFID technology company considers itself adept at developing special products in short timeframes and with constrained budgets, says Ken Horton, Vizinex's CEO. Barcodes has a long-standing relationship with Vizinex and took its challenge directly to the RFID company.

The DOT required a high-performing passive UHF RFID adhesive label that could be attached directly to the metal conduit. The RFID tag would need to be interrogated by a handheld reader from a distance of up to 30 feet. The agency also required human-readable printed information on the front of the label. The tag came with specific drawings and dimensions: about 12 inches by 2 inches.

In addition to performance, the specification targeted durability requirements to ensure that the RFD tag could be interrogated by a reader (and that the human-readable text remains legible) long after the bridge work was completed. "It was so specific, in fact, that when we saw the drawing, we expected that there was a product out there that met those requirements," Horton recalls. Since that turned out not to be the case, the RFID technology company decided it had to develop and manufacture a new customized tag for this application.

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