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TrazeTag Designs Rubberized RFID Labels for Abusive Environments

Each tag's passive RFID inlay is protected by a flexible plastic material that can be custom-molded with wear-resistant text and graphics, for identifying pipes, cable or heavy equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Two years ago, Margulis formed TrazeTag to solve two problems: creating a tough RFID label for harsh environments, and, for redundancy, accommodating a visual set of information on the front and back of the label.

The company completed a prototype of the product and first tested the tags in Margulis' home. In an effort to determine how tough the tags were, he placed them in his freezer, dropped them several stories from a window and stomped on them. Several summer interns assisted in the abuse, he says, but the tags remained undamaged.

Leandro Margulis
To manufacture the tags, Etiflex employs TrazeTag's proprietary and patent-pending process to embed RFID inlays into rubber labels shaped and colored to suit a particular user's requirements. Durable visual aids (logos and words) are molded into the material—not painted or printed on it. Any type of passive inlay can be embedded within the tag, Margulis says. He expects that most users will encode the embedded RFID chips with simply an ID number, linked in a back-end system to information about the item being tagged. Some TrazeTag customers, however, might request an RFID inlay on which more data could be encoded, such as every time an item was used or inspected.

In one scenario, a construction company could attach the tags to cables, such as those used by cranes. Staff members would glance at the front of each label to identify a cable initially, and then use a handheld interrogator to read the tag's inlay, thereby confirming that cable's identity. If the cable is the correct one, an employee could then enter information into the handheld reader, indicating that the item was being used, and how, thereby enabling the firm to store an electronic record of the cable's history. If the cable was due for inspection, the staff could be immediately alerted to that status on the handheld, as long as the site had a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Inspectors could then utilize the handhelds in a similar manner to update information about an item's inspections or maintenance.

A TrazeTag label can be attached to materials, such as pipes or large pieces of equipment, in multiple ways. It could be tied to an item via cord or cable, for instance, or it could be glued, stitched, heat-sealed or welded onto it.

The labels are made to order, Margulis says, and most will include an RFID tag pre-encoded with a unique ID number only, which a user can later link to data stored in a back-end server. However, he notes, Etiflex or an end user can also encode additional data to the tag if that option is requested. TrazeTag estimates a lead time of four weeks per order. This may vary, he indicates, depending on a customer's individual specifications.

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