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Are RFID Printers on Production Lines 100 Percent Reliable?

Posted By RFID Journal, 11.28.2017

Is it possible to ensure that every single tag will be printed correctly?




No. There is usually a small percentage of tags that are either dead or "quiet" (quiet tags can only be read at a short distance). Typically, companies set up a reader to interrogate the tags after they are applied. If a tag is found not to have been read, a diverter can kick that item off the line so that its non-working tag can be replaced. This should happen infrequently, but it does happen, and the issue needs to be addressed.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Michael Fein 2017-11-30 02:51:22 PM
Hi Mark, I have to take exception with your answer above. Organizations all over the world trust Zebra RFID printers to produce accurately printed and encoded tags. Accuracy and Integrity of tag data is foundational to any RFID system, and it's inherent in our printer/encoders. None of the benefits of RFID are achievable if you can't trust the tag data. In Zebra RFID printers each and every RFID label is first tested for function, then encoded, and lastly validated. That 3 step process happens in a fraction of a second, prior to printing the label. Any dead or quiet tags that don't pass all three steps are printed with an obvious "void" pattern. Thanks, Michael Fein Zebra Technologies
Mark Roberti 2017-12-04 05:11:31 PM
Michael, Perhaps my answer was not clear. I am well aware that Zebra printers validate the tags and print a void pattern on them. However, if you are printing and applying tags on a manufacturing line (which is what our reader asked me about), tags that have been voided will still get applied. That means you need a diverter to kick these tags off the line and print and apply a new, functioning tag. This does not happen very often, but the situation needs to be addressed when applying tags on a manufacturing line. If you are simply printing tags and applying them manually, then obviously you would not apply any tag that has been voided. Mark
Michael Fein 2017-12-05 01:53:57 PM
Thanks for clarifying, Mark. Even in the case of an in-line RFID printer/encoder/applicator system, I'd never recommend knowingly applying a bad or voided tag. Modern applicator systems that use our ZE500R print engine solve this problem by leaving voided labels on the liner while quickly re-printing a valid replacement -- so a bad label is never applied to an item. Michael
Ray Cote 2017-12-05 02:15:45 PM
Hello Im Ray & we have 6 RFID printers on some of our production lines and are having a heck of time getting them to produce 99%. I know there are other circumstances that can effect this like small rfid tags on a roll you may get it programming the label behind it, calibration issues are another big issue. From my experience rfid printers are a fringe process for production lines and dont belong there as the personnel to service them are always there. We are moving forward with auto applicators & industrial RFID reader heads P&F.
Saptha Wanniarachchi 2018-01-08 04:43:35 AM
I guess most of the manufacturers do print " void" on dead tags, beyond printing on the tag we have attached a QC module that will sync with EPC data and remove the EPC data assigned to the dead tag.

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