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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
RF Expertise—Getting the System Right
Experience counts in designing a quality RFID system. To ensure that the system is designed properly, it is essential to work with a company that has experience with and an understanding of RF to fine-tune the system. Steps to follow to ensure proper operation include:

• Performing a SKU analysis to determine if the products being processed are compatible with radio frequencies.
• Verification of the RF working environment.
• Automation analysis to provide guidance on moving from manual to automated materials handling.
• Integration analysis to ensure that the RFID system integrates into the existing facility seamlessly, and with the least amount of disruption.

SKU Analysis: While RFID tagging provides a number of advantages, it does have some physical limitations. For example, products with high liquid or metal content require special considerations. Liquids absorb some frequencies of radio waves, while some metals can cause unpredictable performance.

Such products may require custom-designed tags or precise tag placement to ensure readability. The location may differ from product to product, and can impact readability drastically.

Verification: Radio frequencies present in the workplace can have a significant effect on the reliability of an RFID system. To ensure success, the system supplier must first assess whether large amounts of metal or stray radio waves are present in the environment and how they may affect operation.

In addition, the RFID system could have an impact on other equipment in the area. Again, an assessment needs to be made on how RF energy generated by the tagging and identification system affects nearby equipment.

A critical point in the verification process is ensuring that objects are properly tagged, and that the tags are readable. This includes determining the best way to read tags. Reading options include:

• Over-conveyor readers that capture each product, package or carton on the line.
• Singulation, which distinguishes among individual products, packages or cartons.
• Portals, stretch-wrap readers and forklift readers able to read multiple RFID tags at once.

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