Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

How to Tag Problem Products

Many products are difficult to track with RFID, but good system design and precise tag placement can overcome most hurdles. Here's what you need to know to tag successfully.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 21, 2004—Companies that manufacture products that are made of—or packaged in—materials that are not "RF friendly" are concerned about how they are going to meet mandates from retailers. It’s difficult to tag many liquid products, because water absorbs electromagnetic radiation at UHF frequencies (868 to 956 MHz). And UHF waves bounce off of metal, making it difficult to read tags on canned goods, items in foil wrapping and other products made of metal or contained in metal packaging.

Gillette puts a tag where there's an air gap in the case

These are not the only materials that cause problems. RF energy is absorbed by containers made with carbon fibers, which are often used in the electronics industry to prevent electrical components from being damaged by electrostatic discharges. RF energy is also absorbed by containers designed to be used in microwave ovens. And frozen foods can be a problem, because the tags often fall off cases with frost on them.

Retailers are requiring tags on cases—which may be in random orientation to a reader antenna—to be read on conveyors traveling at up to 540 feet per minute. This is doable, even with products that are not RF friendly. With smart strategies—good system design, precise tag placement and changes to business processes—it’s possible to tag almost any item so it can be read reliably.

1. Consider tag and reader antenna placement carefully. It's obviously easier to read a tag if you don't have to read through the product that it's on. So wherever possible, it's better to have a reader antenna facing the side of a container, carton or case with the RFID tag on it. Since it's not always possible to control the orientation of an object, it makes sense to set up reader antennas on all sides of a conveyor, door or portal where you want to read tags.

Many UHF readers on the market today support two, four or even eight antennas (some come with a single internal antenna). The reader uses a multiplexer to turn on and off antennas in rapid sequence. By placing reader antennas above, below, to the left and to the right of where the tagged product will travel, you can create a "tunnel" that greatly increases the chances of reading the tag on the product, regardless of the product's orientation to the reader.

It's also important to consider the placement of the tag on the case. In many instances, you have to choose a location on the case where the tag will not be affected by the contents of the case (more on that below). But you also need to consider how cases typically travel on conveyors in your facilities and how they are stacked on pallets. If cases are always stacked the same way, then it makes sense to put the tag on the side of the case that will face outward when it’s on a pallet.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 2,446 words and 4 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations
© Copyright 2002-2016 RFID Journal LLC.
Powered By: Haycco