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European EPC Competence Center Updates UHF Tag Study

According to the updated study, new tag designs and improved antennas have increased UHF tag performance during the past year.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 01, 2008The European EPC Competence Center (EECC) has released an update of its UHF Tag Performance Survey (UTPS) study, based on tests it has completed on 20 inlays from six vendors. The tests measured the performance of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags when attached to a range of materials representing various products.

The EECC is a joint venture founded by Metro Group, DHL, and GS1 Germany. The center released its initial study in 2007 (see European EPC Competence Center Releases UHF Tag Study).

The purpose of the study is to help companies determine which UHF tags work best for their particular needs, by testing the performance of several tags once they are attached to products composed of various materials. The performance of UHF RFID tags can be affected by the materials to which the tags are attached, because the materials can absorb or reflect energy from the reader antenna that the tag requires to function, and because metal and other materials can detune the antenna, adversely affecting performance.

"The EECC tries to make the RFID market transparent," says Conrad von Bonin, the center's manager. By making testing results available via the report, he explains, companies can save time and money since they don't need to test each tag themselves. "The EECC has the world-leading measuring technology," he states, "and wants to share this knowledge in order to speed up successful RFID [adoption]."

The EECC tested each tag in free air, representing a tagged item on an apparel hanger; on 2-milimeter-thick Teflon, representing paper or boxes with relatively high air content, such as diapers, disposable paper or large detergent boxes; on 10-milimeter-thick Teflon, representing beverage cases or other plastic cases; on a PET plastic bottle containing distilled water, with a 2-milimeter-thick spacer between the bottle and the tag, representing products containing water, such as ketchup or milk; and on a metal reflector with a 4-milimeter-thick spacer, representing goods containing metal, such as chocolate or coffee.

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