Companies Testing On-Metal Tag With 20-Meter Read Range

By Claire Swedberg

Xerafy's Container Trak tag is being tested by several companies to identify the locations and movements of metal containers or trailers in such areas as outdoor storage yards and distribution centers.

RFID technology company Xerafy has begun taking orders for its new Container Trak tag, designed to provide visibility into the locations of containers in outdoor storage yards and warehouses. The passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag offers a read range of 65 feet (20 meters) when applied to a metal item, such as a shipping container, so that it could be read as a container is being driven through a gate, for instance. Xerafy released the tag in September 2017, and currently has pilots under way with several companies, the company reports.

The Container Trak tag, according to Xerafy, was designed to provide a long read range from moving containers, trailers or chassis, in a relatively small form factor. The tag allows companies to meet the 20-meter read range that Xerafy's customers have been asking for, primarily for moveable equipment and containers, says Dennis Khoo, the company's CEO. With the tags, he says, readers could capture up to 400 reads per second. The new tag, designed to be easily attached to most metal form factors, measures 139 millimeters by 42 millimeters by 12 millimeters (5.5 inches by 1.6 inches by 0.5 inch) and can be mounted via a rivet, a cable tie, a metal insertion or an adhesive.

Xerafy's Container Trak tag

The new Container Trak tag is targeted to companies in the manufacturing, logistics, industrial supply chain, warehouse-management and yard-management industries, Khoo says, as well as in oil and gas.

Some logistics and manufacturing companies already employ on-metal RFID technology to track the movements of containers and trailers around a storage yard, distribution center or manufacturing facility. However, reading tags as they drive through gates, or from a forklift or yard vehicle driving around the trailers, can be challenging, Khoo reports, due to the relatively short read range on UHF tags, especially when the tags are mounted on metal. In addition, harsh environments—such as outdoor storage areas, rail yards or ports—can pose a challenge for many on-metal RFID tags that could be damaged by weather or impact.

Some competitive tags on the market, Khoo says, were too bulky to be attached to containers or chassis and assure users that they would stay there, while others performed poorly. "We felt we needed to add another tag to the Trak family," he states, "to meet the 20-meter read range that serves the market for asset management and container tracking."

Xerafy's new tag is intended to offer a solution for tracking containers and trailers. "The challenge is to create a tag that is high-performance yet cost-effective for outdoor applications," Khoo says. "Also, we built the tag with a small footprint, allowing assets with limited real estate" to still gain a long read range.

"The Container Trak is built with performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness in mind," Khoo says. The material used for the Container Trak is stronger and more durable for challenging outdoor applications than that of the company's predecessor tags. It comes with a built-in Impinj R6P chip—which, he adds, enables high performance at a relatively low cost.

Xerafy's Dennis Khoo

"With each new product launch," Khoo states, "we try to fill a gap that is not properly addressed, giving customers better options and more choices in their tag selection" (see Xerafy Releases Its Smallest On-Metal RFID Tags and Xerafy Releases Tap-In On-Metal Tag). The company is presently piloting the new tag with several companies, though Khoo declines to name the specific firms or their particular use cases. Thus far, he claims, customers are excited about the results.

The tag comes with 32 bits of user memory, in addition to 128 bits of EPC memory, or 64 bits of max-user memory. It has an operating temperature range of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition, Xerafy recently released its Versa Trak II and Cargo Trak II tags as part of its upgraded Trak Series. Both tags offer additional mounting methods via adhesive, rivet or cable tie, as well as a more rugged casing than their predecessors with the same functionality. All three new tags are encased in anti-UV, industry-grade polymer.