Partners pair tag/reader solutions to foster new RFID apps at lower cost

While enforcement of Gen 2 tags represents another big stride in RFID's evolution, users are still looking for greater ease of use. Offering prepackaged solutions of tags and readers is one way to streamline the path to RFID—at lower cost. Labeling supplies specialist Avery Dennison recently announced a plan to combine its RFID inlays with Motorola's hardware and tag design expertise.

08/01/2007


While enforcement of Gen 2 tags represents another big stride in RFID's evolution, users are still looking for greater ease of use. Offering prepackaged solutions of tags and readers is one way to streamline the path to RFID—at lower cost.



Avery Dennison will combine its RFID inlays with Motorola’s reader hardware. The reader pictured here was developed by Symbol Technologies, which Motorola recently acquired.

Labeling supplies specialist Avery Dennison recently announced a plan to combine its RFID inlays with Motorola 's hardware and tag design expertise. The goal is to give users a one-stop-shopping option for their RFID projects, improve interoperability between tags and readers, and increase ROI.

“We wanted to create a solution set that has been tested, and is scalable and turnkey,” says Peter Bloch, Avery Dennison senior manager, strategic alliances. “Since there is a lot of science and technology involved in tag design, this partnership puts all the necessary pieces together to eliminate some of the user trial-and-error.”

Tag sensitivity is an RFID challenge manufacturers typically face, and one that Bloch hopes will be reduced via optimization between readers and tags. “If products are physically cumbersome or awkward in design, it may be challenging to decide where to put tags. Since there is a lot of variation in how a product may be presented to a reader, there is more need for tags that are 'orientation insensitive'—that is, where the tag can be read from every direction.”

According to Joe White, VP of business development for Motorola, volume, quality, and cost are critical factors for any RFID project. “When we were looking for partners, we wanted to enable high-quality applications. Although Gen II has improved integration between tags and readers, there still remains a question about how well they talk to each other.”

White says he is optimistic about the adoption rate of RFID in manufacturing because the numbers are starting to rise. “This time last year we were not seeing as many manufacturers implementing full-scale rollouts, but today we are starting to see more manufacturing deployments.”

Achieving faster ROI is one reason White attributes to the higher adoption rate. “Our implementations in asset tracking can achieve ROI in three months or less. Tags are more durable and reusable in asset tracking, so the solution is more cost-effective. Actual product cost is higher, but tags can be used for years.”



"
Although Gen II has improved integration between tags and readers, there still remains a question about how well they talk to each other."
—Joe White, VP of business development, Motorola

Manufacturers use asset tracking for tool reconciliation of high-value items, such as reusable totes, carts, containers, and other equipment. Asset tracking is a safe starting point for RFID neophytes since it is more controllable, says Kimberly Knickle, program director for Framingham, Mass.-based IDC Manufacturing Insights . “It is a good closed-loop example of RFID in process because items stay in one general area and users know where they are located.”

Most companies can expect ROI from a series of RFID projects rather than one project, Knickle adds. “A company may use RFID for asset tracking in a warehouse and for only forklifts, for example. Once that process is running smoothly, they will extend the project to another location or another asset. It is a good philosophy to start small.”

Knickle believes the manufacturing industry truly can benefit from agreements like that between Avery Dennison and Motorola since prepackaged solutions eventually will reduce the amount of customization involved in RFID projects.

“Many users are overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make and the stories they hear from others regarding the incompatibility of readers and tags,” says Knickle. “There is a definite need for a solution that can guarantee a specific reader will work with a specific tag 99 percent of the time.”





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