Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has become increasingly popular in the shipping and packaging industries in recent years and has proven to be a game-changer for businesses wanting to elevate their operation processes. With its flexibility and versatile application uses, RFID tags provide numerous benefits to businesses including increased workplace productivity, reduction in errors, and cost-effectiveness.
When choosing RFID technology as a resource, some businesses may initially overlook the importance of the RFID inlay tag placement, resulting in the tag not working properly. It is important to understand how and where an RFID tag should be placed on an item to ensure it is working properly and affixed correctly to the items.
What is an RFID Inlay Tag?
Radio Frequency Identification, commonly referred to as RFID, is a tracking method that makes use of barcodes to identify and track objects through accurate step-by-step tracking. The barcode transmits information from the RFID tag to a reader device, which forwards it to an RFID computer program that uses radio waves to track items, people, or animals. RFID tags are useful not only for tracking goods but also for tracking cars and large containers.
How Do RFID Tags Work?
RFID technology works by sending radio waves through the air from a reader (such as an RFID scanner or reader device) in the direction of an object or person that has an RFID tag affixed to their body or a package. The RFID tag’s shape, color, weight, size, and other characteristics are subsequently recorded by the reader together with the sort of object that is carrying it. It uses radio waves to transmit the data over to the computer software for analysis.
An RFID tag stores information such as the type of object, name, ID number, or other information about the item that is being identified for tracking purposes or efficient warehouse management. It is also capable of storing data regarding the position and gait of the subject or object.
Types of RFID Tags
RFID tags are small electrical devices with an antenna and a microchip that store and transmit data. The data collected by the reader device is stored on the microchip. The two main types of RFID tags used are battery-operated tags, which run on an internal battery, and passive tags, which use electromagnetic energy broadcast from an RFID reader instead of external power sources.
The primary frequencies used by passive RFID tags to transmit data are:
- Low Frequency (LF)
- High Frequency (HF)
- Ultra-High Frequency (UHF)
The wireless device’s range is influenced by the signal’s frequency. An electromagnetic wave powers a passive RFID tag when a reader scans it, allowing the antenna and chip to transmit data back to the reader. An RFID computer receives this data and uses its interpretation to identify items. If your company is looking to track items remotely, choosing an active RFID tag may be the best option for your business.
Active RFID Tags
Active RFID tags are a great option for people who want real-time, up-to-date tracking because they consistently send out signals. Though more costly than passive IC tags, they can be useful in real-time vehicle monitoring and tolling applications due to their larger read ranges. Active tags are also largely used in warehouse management applications when large numbers of items on skids or pallets need to be scanned in.
When durability is crucial, active RFID tags—which are more compact and resilient than passive RFID tags—are frequently utilized. They are widely used in shipping tracking systems and as transponders for toll payments.
Passive RFID Tags
Passive RFID tags offer more cost-effectiveness than active RFID tags. Since they only cost about 20 cents per tag, supply chain management, file management, race tracking, shipping, and access control systems frequently use them. They are perfect for use in mobile applications since they are lightweight and compact.
Because passive tags do not require batteries or power connections to function, they are also more secure than active ones. They are less likely to malfunction over time or be tampered with.
RFID Tag Placement Requirements
RFID tags are commonly used in the retail industry because they allow companies to sew or affix a tracking tag to each article of clothing or product being sold. However, some guidelines must be followed:
- Customers must be able to remove the tag from the item after purchasing. If the RFID tag has been sewn onto a label or piece of clothing, the customer must be able to remove it by simply tearing it off.
- Each product or item can only have a single RFID tag. For packaged items that contain multiple components in one box, the RFID tag must be attached to the main UPC.
- If your business is using RFID inlay stickers, you can place the sticker on the packaging, unless the sticker can easily be removed.
- RFID tags must not cover any images or text on a product. This includes text stating the item’s country of origin. Suppliers can print the product’s country of origin on the RFID sticker if need be.
- The RFID inlay tag must be readable, so it cannot contain any staples, folds, perforations, or die cuts that would make it unreadable by the reader device.
- For boxed items or polybags, RFID inlays should not be placed on the bottoms of these parcels. RFID tags should also never overlap with an EAS tag.
It has always been challenging to print and encode RFID “smart labels” using an RFID-capable printer. Users have struggled with “inlay placement” as one issue. The RFID inlay position beneath the label’s face stock is referred to as inlay placement. Inlays can be found anywhere on the label, but they are usually positioned horizontally beneath the face stock. They can also be found toward the top or bottom of the label.
Potential Issues with Tag Placement
RFID tag placement can potentially cause users issues, such as:
- Selection of labels – it is important to choose the correct labels to ensure proper inlay placement.
- Label sourcing delays – make sure you order the label size that coincides with the appropriate inlay placement for your printer.
- Cost for specific inlay placement labels – your business may require an exact inlay placement which may cost more than other labels.
Tamarack® Products provides simple solutions with dependable, high-quality web finishing and conversion equipment because we recognize the importance of quality and efficiency in corporate operations. We have more than 50 years of experience in providing fully customizable, modular, and scalable solutions, including RFID technology with our P500 RFID inlay insertion equipment. Our P500 has operator-friendly controls that make it simple to integrate into your existing press and is servo-driven for effortless installation.
Tamarack® Products is globally recognized as an industry leader in the production of specialized, superior in-line and off-line web finishing equipment. Along with window patching and other web finishing manufacturing options, we also provide integrated labeling and RFID inlay insertion solutions. Our P500 RFID inlay insertion system can be customized to accommodate dry or wet inlays to meet your specific business standards. Contact us with any questions or to find out more about how modular and adaptable web finishing solutions can be integrated with RFID inlay insertion systems that execute proper RFID tag placement.