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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
For instance, if a garment manufacturer were using the MCS method to generate EPC numbers for NXP chips, the tags might all be encoded with serial numbers starting with 111 (the exact prefix assignments for each chipmaker are still being finalized).

If that manufacturer wanted to use a service bureau to encode tags for the same product, using a method other than MCS, it could have them all begin with 000. As long as the apparel maker did not buy or generate other tags encoded with serial numbers starting with the prefix 000, it would not have to worry about duplicates, since the tag's Company Prefix (indicating that the firm is the tagged item's manufacturer) and the product identifier (identifying the type of product being tagged) would be different from those of other companies.

If the firm wanted to use an IT-based serialization application to generate EPC serial numbers itself, it could distinguish those numbers by assigning them a 001 prefix. In that way, the apparel company could avoid internal duplication.

The chipmakers plan to work with RFID label printer-encoder manufacturers, such as Zebra Technologies, so their printers will be able to read a chip's TID, determine the chip's maker (every TID includes 12 bits identifying the chip's manufacturer) and apply the proper MCS formula in order to automatically generate a unique serial number for a label being printed and encoded. The label printer would receive all of the information it required by reading the chip's TID. All the label printer has to do is employ the right formula to extract the correct bits from the TID to generate serial number, and combine that with the end user's company prefix and product identifier to generate a 96-bit EPC.

RFID transponders pre-encoded with serial numbers using the MCS method will be exhibited at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2012 conference and exhibition, being held next week in Orlando, Fla.

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