RFID Tags: Getting it Right

deplymentThe RFID tag is one of the most important components of RFID implementation. Tag characteristics vary, and the right tag, properly placed, at the right point in the supply chain is critical for success. The better the tag placement, the higher the ROI you can achieve. Performance tests by qualified suppliers and resellers can support the appropriate selection of your tags, and determine the optimum placement of the tag.

There are many different techniques to choose from when deciding on how to affix a tag to an item. Truecount will provide multiple options allowing you to institute the most efficient method based on your specific needs. Flexibility is key not only during pilot phases but throughout final rollout. The following are the most popular models used when applying RFID tags to items:

  • Replacing the current price tag with an RFID price tag–typically used for tagging at source or when convenient to replace a traditional barcode printer with an RFID printer
  • Adhering a “peel and stick” RFID tag adjacent to the existing tag — an effective method for tagging anywhere in supply-chain.
  • Attaching a ‘blank’ RFID tag –a good method for pilots with little or no integration.

Tag selection will drive other critical choices, such as printers, readers and software, so getting the tag “right” is pivotal. An experienced RFID solution provider and consultant, such as Truecount, can lead you through the tag selection process.

Some RFID tag use cases involve speed. Some retail distribution centers, for example, move cases of merchandise on rapidly moving conveyer belts operating at up to 600 feet per minute—10 feet each second-. Here it is critical to make sure you make the best selection to meet your needs.

For successful implementation and top ROI, RFID tags must fit your specific needs, goals, merchandise, and retail environment.

Truecount’s experienced RFID consultants are “tag neutral”. We work with the top tag companies in the industry to ensure our clients are receiving the right tag product at the right price for each project.

Tags and Tag Placement Options

What Are the Different Tag Types for Merchandising and the Retail Supply Chain?

  • The two basic tag types are Passive and Active. Passive tags operate by receiving power directly from the RFID reader/transceiver. They are lighter than active tags, less expensive and have a long operational lifetime. They are the tags most frequently used for merchandise tracking. Active tags are powered by an internal battery, and are usually larger, more expensive and last for a shorter time than passive tags. Active tags are the type most commonly used in toll transponders.

Will One Tag Work for All My Needs?

  • Depending on the structure and goals of the project, your operation may require different tags for different supply chain elements: pallets, cases and individual items. Select a few different tags to test in order to determine the tags that perform best for your use.

Are Tags “Universal”? Will Tags Purchased/Applied in the U.S. Perform in Brazil and Europe?

  • ISO-180006-C and EPCglobal™ Class 1 Gen 2 are the established global standards for RFID tags used with pallets, cases, and items in the supply chain worldwide. Globally certified tags come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points.

Does the Size of the Tag Matter?

  • Tags can be as tiny as the tip of a pencil, however a larger tag antenna normally provides greater read range and better overall performance in most retail situations. Larger tags may not be appropriate for specific types of merchandise, or operations.

What Is The Optimal Read Range?

  • RFID is a powerful technology, capable of reading tags as far away as 300 feet. Generally, the larger the tag, the greater the read range. For the retail environment, where the items to be read or close together, a closer read range works best. An experienced RFID software provider can help you find the balance between the size of the tag and read range required for your business case.

At What Point in the Supply Chain is it Best to Tag?

  • While tagging at the store level can suit some retail business models, in almost all cases, the further up the supply-chain the RFID tag is applied, the more benefits accrue to all players. A solution that provides the flexibility to tag at multiple locations helps you capture as much ROI and advantages as possible. In many cases, a pilot for example, where you choose to tag may be a temporary solution before moving to source tagging.

What About Memory?

  • There are tags that have additional memory capacity that may be used to store information such as manufacturing or expiration dates. For example, the retailers and event merchandisers we work with prefer to leverage enhanced tag memory to store data regarding a product’s SKU number, color, size, batch or lot number and other information essential for inventory management, capturing sales data and tracking buyer preferences.

What is the Cost?

  • Choosing the lowest priced tag is not always cost efficient in the long run. It is better to consider performance over price. What do you need the tag to do? A more high performing tag may cost more initially, but the extra performance could result in big savings once your project is underway. Standard tags range in price from .08 to .10 cents each.

Take-Away Recommendation

  • Consult with a knowledgeable RFID solution provider who has expertise in tag selection and placement, and access to world-class tag providers. To help our clients “get tagging right”, Truecount works with best-in-class partners such as Avery-Denison, Alien Technology and Impinj. This ensures our customers a comprehensive choice of the most advanced, top-tier, high performance tags—fully compatible with global standards.

To discuss tagging, or any other aspect of RFID in more depth, or to schedule a complimentary consultation, email success@truecount.com or call 1-800-403-7118.