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Scalability Is Key to RFID Compliance

When working to meet RFID compliance mandates, it is important to implement a scalable solution that not only satisfies today's needs, but also allows for future growth.
By Mike Kuhno
Dec 04, 2006Every potential application of RFID tagging requires a different approach. Manufacturers of consumer goods, for instance, require a full range of compliance-tagging and verification solutions. These range from intelligent manual tagging to full, in-line automatic tagging, complete with verification readers, shrink-wrapping and portal read points at transition areas in the warehouse and at shipping dock doors. Building in scalability allows a system to meet initial needs and expand to meet future requirements by reusing or redeploying existing equipment. To that end, it is important to work with a supplier able to provide all the components necessary to solve the RFID compliance puzzle and ensure a successful implementation.

RFID Scalability Rollout
For example, a company might begin with a manual "slap-and-ship" system allows it to comply with RFID mandates. Then, as production increases, they could move to semi-automated and fully automated systems by adding hardware and redeploying existing hardware. Typically, the crossover point from manual to automated installations is about 2,000 tags per day.

As the system becomes more automated, companies could move from simple compliance to more sophisticated data gathering, to more intelligent workflows. In other words, they could advance from simple tagging through automation and full integration.

The foundation for a scalable RFID rollout strategy is something commonly called edgeware. This software can be understood as distributed intelligence allowing devices "at the edge" of the system (such as RFID tag readers) to communicate with other devices in the system without having to go through a central processor. With the proper edgeware, one can make decisions close to the device level, providing faster throughput and data transfer.

The right edgeware package provides the basis for a controlled rollout strategy based on a company's changing needs. This approach serves today's needs and allows a system to grow to meet tomorrow's needs. It is more cost-effective than either buying an "oversized" software package or purchasing the minimum today and then buying again as needs change. Either of these approaches can result in wasted capital.

Scalable Edgeware/Middleware
RFID provides more data at the edge today than ever before, and the amount of information available will grow with increased volumes, read points and tagging locations. Managing this vast amount of information requires a simple way to collect, filter and transfer and transport data. In addition, the system should be configured to provide a seamless interface to current and future business systems, as well as an upgrade path to support multi-site applications.

The right edgeware provides a foundation for scalability from a simple RFID printer to an automated installation. It also has the modularity needed to support additional devices as they become available. In addition, localized edgeware provides a level of redundancy that will allow intelligent operation through event-based workflows.

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