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RFID Vendors Unite to Promote UHF for Items
Six industry leaders have joined together to promote the use of UHF for drugs, and have issued a paper to argue their case.
Jun 08, 2006—A band of vendors have joined forces to advocate ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID technology for item-level tagging in the pharmaceutical industry. The companies, which include ADT/Tyco Fire & www.adt.com Security, Alien Technology, Impinj, Intel, Symbol Technologies and Xterprise, have cowritten a paper entitled "RFID and UHF: A Prescription for RFID Success in the Pharmaceutical Industry," which outlines the benefits of UHF technology.
"We all felt that as the adoption of this technology is occurring, there is a lot of misinformation in the market, driven from competitive dynamics and the fact that the market is changing so rapidly," says Joe White, VP of engineering for Symbol's tag division. "This is an opportunity for us to update what UHF RFID is, and what it is capable of delivering today."
The vendors began working on the white paper several months ago. It can now be downloaded at the Pharmaceutical Online Web site.
With item-level tagging gaining traction, especially within the pharmaceutical industry, there's been a growing debate among RFID users and vendors, pitting UHF tags against high-frequency (HF) tags. Both types are being tested and deployed within the supply chains of several pharmaceutical companies. Purdue Pharma, for example, is using UHF tags in its item-level RFID implementation (see Purdue Pharma Tags OxyContin), and Wal-Mart has stated it also favors UHF tags (see Wal-Mart Seeks UHF for Item-Level). Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, meanwhile, are both using HF tags (see Pfizer Using RFID to Fight Fake Viagra and GlaxoSmithKline Tests RFID on HIV Drug).
The paper refutes a recent report from ODIN Technologies, a Dulles, Va., systems integration firm, which concluded, after various tests, that HF tags are better suited than UHF tags for item-level tracking (see Study Says HF Rules for Pharma Items).
According to Vinay Gokhale, vice president of business development at Impinj, the UHF Gen 2 specification has gone a long way in ironing out some of the problems associated with early RFID trials using UHF tags on cases and pallets. Still, he says, many considered the UHF technology not the best for item-level tagging. About six months ago, therefore, Gokhale and his colleagues decided to look more closely at HF tags to learn why they appeared to work better for item-level tagging.
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