Zebra identifies top 10 tips for choosing an RFID printer/encoder

Vernon Hills, IL—Because a deadline to comply with radio frequency identification (RFID) compliance labeling is looming for many companies in January 2005, Zebra Technologies is offering its top 10 tips for selecting the right printing/encoding solution to satisfy mandates for EPC-compliant RFID labeling.


Vernon Hills, IL— Because a deadline to comply with radio frequency identification (RFID) compliance labeling is looming for many companies in January 2005, Zebra Technologies is offering the following tips for selecting the right printing/encoding solution to satisfy mandates for EPC-compliant RFID labeling:

EPC compliant
Before selecting an RFID printer/encoder for passive UHF EPC smart labels, ensure it has been tested by the EPCglobal organization to be 'EPC compliant.'

Integrated support
Know what you're buying. Choose a printer that has integrated software support for the programming and verification of RFID tags, or you could face hefty invoices for additional programming.

Technology flexibility
Select printer/encoders that support the range of RF tag protocols in use today. Doing so offers the flexibility to choose the RFID tag that works best in each application.

Investment protection
Choose a printer that is field-upgradeable to support future RFID tag standards and air interface protocols. Ask for a free or guaranteed upgrade to the next 'Generation 2' standard.

Migrating current applications
Ensure that the RFID printer/encoder you choose can be incorporated easily into your existing bar code labeling application, and that the application can support RFID data. Printer/encoders using programming languages, such as ZPL, can be modified to encode RFID tags quickly and with minimal risk.

Proven platform
To minimize downtime, choose an RFID solution that is based on a field-proven product line, known for low-maintenance and high reliability. Putting RFID on an untested or error-prone system could turn your dream of a smooth implementation into a nightmare.

Label size flexibility
Today you may be using large 4 x 6 in. smart labels, but what about tomorrow? The printer/encoder you select should be flexible enough to accommodate various pitch levels between the chip inlay and label, as well as a wide range of label sizes.

'Certified' smart labels
Before you buy, identify what steps have been taken to 'certify' blank smart labels for quality and compatibility with your intended RFID printer/encoder. Labels may perform differently, and could produce unsatisfactory results, in some brands of printers/encoders.

To ensure the reliability and accuracy of your RFID labels, select a printer/encoder that will automatically void or reject a smart label or inlay that fails to respond properly to reading/encoding instructions.

XML support
For easy integration with your ERP/WMS system, you may be able to harness the flexibility of eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Be sure you specify an XML-capable printer that's optimized for your software.

Zebra manufactures on-demand printing solutions for business and process improvement. For more information on choosing the right RFID printer/encoder for different applications, or to learn more about Zebra's RFID products, visit www.rfid.zebra.com .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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