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Three RFID Chip Makers Agree on Serialization Approach

The system should make managing serial numbers easier for end users, while providing advanced users with the flexibility they want.
By Mark Roberti
The benefit of chip-based serialization is that an end user need not manage serial-number assignment software and an associated database. GS1 US plans to publish a guideline explaining both approaches to end users, so that they can choose one method or the other, or a combination of the two, to best suit their needs.

"A year ago, we began with thinking that we would need a standard for serialization," Traub says (see Chipmakers Seek Industry-wide Serialization Schema). "There was no consensus on what that would be, but we ended up in a great place. End users have a lot of flexibility, in that they can choose to use their own serialization schemes, have a service bureau do it, or use the chip-based serialization options being offered by Alien, Impinj and NXP. They can even use a combination of methods. It's an ideal outcome."

Last month, Impinj introduced its chip-based EPC-serialization method, which the company calls Monza Self-Serialization (see Impinj Seeks to Make Serializing Data Easy). To take advantage of Monza Self-Serialization, a company must employ EPC Gen 2 tags containing Monza 5 RFID chips, as well as Impinj's Source Tagging Platform on its readers. Brand owner will be able to use Impinj's Monza Self-Serialization, as well as self-serialization methods from Alien and NXP, to encode serial numbers that conform to the MCS scheme.

Allotting three bits to identify the chipmaker creates eight potential prefixes (000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111), so the framework can accommodate additional chipmakers, if need be. There are more than 30 registered chipmakers, but many of these are focused on chips for specific applications, such as high-memory tags for the aerospace sector.

An end user might choose to use more than one serialization method for the same product. A company manufacturing the same goods in North America, Latin America and Europe might opt to utilize MCS at one location, IT-based serialization software at another and a service bureau at a third. For the IT-based serialization and service bureau options, it could use the unassigned prefixes so that non-MCS serial numbers would not collide with MCS-based serial numbers.

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