Radio Frequency Identification – RFID Labels and RFID Tags

Radio Frequency IDentification – is the wireless, automatic capture and transfer of information to or from electronic tags, to track an item in inventory or throughout the supply chain.

After decades of real world application, RFID technology is no longer seen as a mystery, but an opportunity. The implementation of RFID labels and RFID tags has brought increased efficiency and profitability across a wide range of industries. It is proven to increase inventory accuracy, improve supply chain agility and enhance visibility across all channels. The use of RFID is revolutionizing the industries and is opening new dimensions and opportunities for smart labels.

There are three main components to any RFID system:

  • The chip – basically the brain or memory that stores the identifying data;
  • The antenna – the transmitter that relays data from the chip to the reader;
  • The reader – a programmable logic controller that activates whatever function is required – from recording inventory adjustments to issuing counterfeiting or theft alerts.

The inlay is the integrated unit made up of a chip and antenna. These two components are built onto a flexible carrier, which in turn is inserted into a finished product (the label or tag).

Demand for the technology is growing rapidly and RFID is gaining ground against barcodes, especially when it comes to inventory and supply chain management, because while you have to go to each item/shipping box/crate to scan the individual barcode, with RFID tags you are able to scan multiple targets from a certain distance at the same time. This saves a considerable amount of time and energy. It’s basically fishing with a line, waiting for one to bite, versus casting out a net and catching dozens. Where barcodes use an optical identification process, RFID uses radio waves and thin antennas to identify data and transmit it. Thanks to this process, concerns about label orientation or line-of-sight obstructions are eliminated. An RFID chip also offers comparatively vast data storage capabilities, giving end-users a new way to track and store different types of data for diverse market applications.

The portfolio of RFID inlay solutions that we can provide you with is extensive and covers a wide range of inlay designs for operation in the UHF, HF and NFC frequency bands, these being commonly found in retail, medical, transport, logistics and manufacturing industries. The inlay designs we provide include chips that vary in memory size, compatibility with RF system, data retention and functionality. We can provide RFID solutions for aviation applications, automotive applications, pharma and small size retail applications, fresh food applications, asset tracking, supply chain (inventory and logistics), security and authentication.

One of the latest improvements in this field is the combination of RFID inlays and the latest in tamper-evident labeling solutions for brand protection purposes.

At ELTRONIS, we can offer RFID tamper-evident box seals for product- and brand protection purposes against counterfeiting. This solution makes it easier to track an item on its way through the supply chain and, at the same time, verify authenticity, ensure quality and ultimately keep the end-customers safe. A specially created ultra-strong adhesive ensures the appropriate tamper-evident feature in the form of cardboard/fiber tear. The combination of RFID inlay and tamper-evident feature make this the ideal application for a wide range of track & trace, authentication and anti-counterfeiting purposes. It is very important that you chose the right RFID inlay and tamper-evident features for the required application. In case of any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will offer you the best-suited solution to your requirements.

Another of the more recent developments in RFID solutions is time and temperature indication.

Nowadays temperature indicator labels (thermochromic labels and battery-powered sensors) are commonly used within the perishable goods supply chain and relate temperature violations to a color change. Even though these sensors are cheap, their inspection requires the monitoring person to go and check each label one at the time, which is labor-intensive and requires direct line of sight.

The manufacturers and purchasers of temperature-sensitive products, like pharmaceuticals and food, have a vested interest to ensure the quality of their products, as well as to identify supply chain issues that may compromise the integrity of their products and brands. There is a clear desire to be able to monitor temperature profiles of individual products at the required time intervals along the supply chain. Monitoring can lead to more efficient processing of perishable goods as well as a better way to assure the end-users with regards to the product’s quality.

This cost-effective, smart labeling solution doesn’t only log time and temperature, but also offers a complete solution with multiple services such as cloud environment, application programming interface and individual calibration capabilities. The recorded data is stored in an NFC (near field communication) chip and can be uploaded to a smartphone or computer at any time anywhere throughout the supply chain. The technology incorporates sensor functionality and temperature data logging capabilities in a cost-effective form. When applied onto a product or container, the RFID labels can be programmed by the user to record the temperature history of goods at defined time intervals during shipment. Once the shipment reaches its destination, the temperature data can be uploaded to a smartphone or computer to be reviewed

This type of RFID tags can track the temperatures a product is exposed to at defined time intervals throughout the supply chain and can indicate if the product is suitable for its intended use. This RFID tag monitors storage and transportation temperature of perishable goods at defined time intervals, such as fresh food, pharmaceuticals or sensitive chemicals. If the pre-defined upper temperature limit or lower temperature limit is crossed during the monitoring period, an alarm is raised and stored into the memory of the label. This allows users to detect the interruption point in a cold chain with any commercial UHF RFID reader, anytime during transportation and storage. Cold chain efficiency can be significantly improved by utilizing temperature sensors to monitor ambient temperature conditions.

The desired temperature limits, measurement time interval and other configuration data are set by the user prior to attaching the label onto the monitored item. If preferred, the configuration data can already be set at the production facility. There are, however, some factors that can influence the read performance, like: context of communication, environmental surroundings and the communication initiation method.

The use of such temperature indicator RFID tags comes with the following advantages:

  • They detect and monitor temperature on plastic, wood and other non-metal surfaces;
  • An easy-to-use and extremely resistant battery-free design with excellent read range that outperforms other traditional temperature indicator tags;
  • These passive temperature indicator RFID tags are much smaller, thinner and more flexible than other thermochromic labels or battery-powered sensors, and they are more cost-effective than active wireless sensor tags. As a matter of fact, their low cost makes them very useful for disposable and high-volume applications;
  • Using passive sensors also eliminates the long-term labor and maintenance costs that come with battery powered semi-passive and active RFID tags;
  • Because these temperature sensor tags are simple, battery-free, and inexpensive, they open a broad range of new uses beyond existing sensor applications (i.e. high volume cold chain and electrical utility projects that cannot use battery-based sensors);
  • Passive temperature indicator RFID tags enable users to consistently monitor temperatures and provide critical information to help make informed decisions with regards to the product’s condition on its journey throughout the supply chain;
  • Available in both paper and polyester base constructions, the tags we provide can be customized to serve any type of application;
  • Digital printing provides for greater print capability with additional barcode or human readable information;
  • Suitable for a wide variety of applications: cold chain; warehousing & data centers; industrial & manufacturing facilities; healthcare; agriculture, etc.

Every inlay has unique design characteristics dictated by the end-user’s information tracking, monitoring and/or reporting requirements. How the customer uses this technology will determine which type of inlay will be needed. The applications for RFID are virtually limitless.

Please be advised, that because of the custom-made nature of them, these RFID tags are available on a project basis. For exact specifications, samples and quotations please contact us.