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Mikoh Develops Reusable Container With RFID Security Seal

The company's SecureContainer system features a passive tag designed to notify an RFID interrogator if a sealed container has been opened while passing through the supply chain.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 15, 2007With both government and commercial interests in mind, Mikoh has developed a reusable container with an RFID security seal intended to alert a user's RFID interrogator if a container is tampered with as it passes through the supply chain.

According to Peter Atherton, the company's CTO, Mikoh is in discussions with several government agencies to test the SecureContainer. However, he says, he is unable to name the agencies at this time..

Although early trials will focus on government applications, Atherton says, the SecureContainer has potential both for government and commercial use. Government agencies can use the containers to move high-value electronics and important paperwork. Retailers, pharmaceutical companies and other commercial entities, meanwhile, might use SecureContainer to transport high-value items.

One problem for commercial users of item-level tags, Atherton notes, is that a container with 100 or more tagged items (such as might be the case for pharmaceutical companies) is likely to pass readers at a high rate of speed throughout the supply chain. Under such conditions, however, interrogators might not always read 100 percent of the tags. When that happens, the company either has to pull the box off the conveyor and examine its contents, or send it on and hope the missing items are still there. Other factors affecting read rates include how the tags are applied and how the product is packed in the containers.

Manufacturers and distributors have come up with a variety of solutions to ensure that every tag in a box is read. These include rotating a container while it is being interrogated, as well as installing multiple readers at each read point. "The problem with that," Atherton explains, "is it's more expensive and more complex—and it slows the supply chain."

To remedy this problem, Mikoh developed the SecureContainer, which makes use of the company's existing Smart&Secure RFID tag incorporated in a seal. As long as SecureContainer's RFID tag can be read and its seal hasn't been tampered with, a company can be confident that 100 percent of items being shipped are inside the container—even if the system is unable to read 100 percent of the item tags inside it.

Mikoh offers two types of seals: one in which the RFID tag continues to send data to readers throughout the supply chain even if the container has been opened or the seal has been damaged; and a second option in which the tag stops working as soon as someone tampers with it.

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