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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
Scalability Options
Automated Tagging: Automated tagging solutions provide a number of capabilities, including the ability to perform on-demand or batch processing optimized to individual lines. Such equipment also has the capacity to operate multiple applicators to increase throughput. In addition, if necessary, it can place tags on multiple panels of a carton to ensure readability in all environments.

Automated equipment allows users to place tags in optimal locations to ensure readability by the receiver. Automated systems typically include reporting capabilities to monitor performance and simple interfaces to ensure proper operation. Other benefits include:

• Flexibility in designing label and tag formats.
• Support for different types of print engines.
• Singulation and verification of bar codes and tags on all objects.
• Improved security by providing tighter management of tagging equipment.

Full System Visibility: The most advanced RFID tagging systems provide a complete solution that makes it easy to comply with commercial and government RFID initiatives. It consists of a turnkey automated solution for placing, tracking and verifying RFID tags on cartons and pallets. The system integrates seamlessly into existing material-handling and data-handling systems to provide a low-risk upgrade path from conventional bar-code labeling systems. It can incorporate:

• Bar-code identification.
• Bar-code and human-readable labeling.
• RFID tagging.
• RFID tag reading and writing.
• Material-handling controls.
• Data management, including communications with WMS or ERP systems.

Fully automated systems allow users to add automation and data-management tools easily, as they are needed. The base system consists of an inbound bar-code scanner, RF tag applicator, bar-code printer and applicator, tag verifier and outbound bar-code verifier. Also included are controls for in-feed, tracking, verify and reject outputs, and additional configurable I/O and features.

The software runs on a PC platform that can be housed in an industrial enclosure or placed remotely in an office. The software controls all devices, system I/O, diagnostics, communications and reporting functions through an intuitive user interface.

Key features of a fully automated system include on-the-fly tag validation and invalid tag skipping. These processes read and validate tag data before the system applies the tag to a carton. The system also provides 100 percent item tracking and tracing, ensuring that the right tag is placed on the right box.

Fully automated systems provide automatic placement of RFID tags and bar-code labels to reduce the total cost of ownership versus manual systems. They also allow flexible tag placement to optimize read rate. Verification and automatic rejection of defective tags before application to the carton ensures that no defective tags enter the supply chain. Another benefit of an automated solution is the ability to support automatic and mixed-mode or batch-mode operation with full EPC code management. This means the system operates in the mode best suited for operations, applying tags only to those cartons requiring them.

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