Say I had 20 tagged items and they were packaged into a box. Is there a way to scan the tag on that box and have it give back information regarding all of the items within it?
There are no tags designed to provide data about the contents of a box to which they are attached. Instead, this is accomplished via software and a database. Let’s say you had 20 items inside a box. Each would have an RFID transponder attached to it, with a unique serial number. You would associate each serial number with one item in your database. You would then apply a tag to the box and link the tag’s serial number to that box in the database. Finally, your software would associate the 20 items and their serial numbers with that specific box and its serial number. Now, whenever you read the tag on the box, your system would tell you exactly what was inside.
The reason companies use this approach, rather than writing carton content data to a tag, is that it takes time to write tag data. Tag memory is limited, and if you were to change the tag on the carton, you would need to rewrite all the serial numbers, which would slow down your processes. Additionally, if the box were to end up missing, its contents would be unknown, whereas if the contents were listed in a database, that information would not be lost.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal