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European EPC Competence Center Releases UHF Tag Study

To help companies compare tags and select the RFID transponders best suited to their products and applications, the EECC tested 20 passive EPC UHF tags from six manufacturers.
By Rhea Wessel
Jul 09, 2007The European EPC Competence Center (EECC), in an effort to ease and speed the roll out of RFID, has performed standardized tests on 20 passive EPC UHF tags provided by six manufacturers. The results of the tests were published in a report designed to help companies compare tags easily and select the right RFID transponders for their products and applications.

The 20 tag models were made by Alien Technologies, Avery Dennison, Checkpoint Systems, Impinj, KSW Microtec, Omron, RSI ID Technologies, Motorola (formerly Symbol) and UPM Raflatac. The EECC tested the tags' production consistency, orientation sensitivity, backscatter range (a measure of a tag's ability to reflect the energy it receives from an RFID interrogator) and read ranges in five attachment scenarios: unattached to any product (freestanding), attached to a 2-millimeter-thick layer of Teflon (simulating RF behavior when tags are affixed to paper products), fastened to a 10-millimeter-thick layer of Teflon (simulating the RF behavior of tags placed on plastic cases), attached to a plastic (PET) bottle of water and attached to a metal surface. To keep the test results reader-independent, the tags were tested in a controlled environment in an anechoic chamber using National Instruments test equipment running EECC's test software.

GS1 Germany and German retailer Metro Group jointly founded the EECC in late 2005 to support the implementation of RFID and EPCglobal standards. The center broadened its services earlier this year to include consulting for companies looking to deploy UHF RFID systems based on EPCglobal standards (see European EPC Competence Center Expanding Its Services). Although it is not operated by Metro Group, the EECC is located in a Metro facility and its members include Metro, as well as GS1 Germany, DHL Exel Supply Chain and Karstadt Warenhaus.

Gerd Wolfram, managing director of Metro Group's IT services provider, MGI Metro Group Information Technology, and managing director of the EECC, says the performance of the tag models varied widely. All tags tested comply with EPCglobal's Class 1 Gen 2 protocol and the ISO 18000-6C standard (click here to view a table describing the evaluated tag models), but there were differences among the tags' integrated circuits nonetheless.

"There is a specification for [EPCglobal's] Gen 2," Wolfram explains, "and we know that tag makers rely on this, but there are points where large performance or consistency differences between the RFID transponder occur."

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