RFID applications

Considerations about RFID for food

RFID for food has some important conditions. When the tags must be in contact with food need to meet the directives and regulations on materials intended to come into contact with food. In this article, we are going to talk about European regulations. Besides, there are a few conditions that we consider that RFID for food needs to meet to be appropriate. Let’s start with the topic!

Three conditions that an RFID tag for food need to meet

  1. All materials in contact with food have to fulfil all food contact regulations for safety.
  2. The antenna and chip can’t be in contact with food.
  3. The ticket with the RFID tag must be clearly noticed.

Food contact regulations that concern RFID tags

In everyday life, food contact materials (FCM) are widely used in packaging, kitchen tools, labels, etc. The different materials on contact with food may behave differently and could transfer their constituents to the food depending on their composition and application. Thus, FCM chemicals might change the food properties and affect human health. That’s why, food contact materials are subject to legally binding rules at EU level, in order to secure a high level of protection of human health. The main regulations for food safety that concern RFID tag materials in contact with food are:

First, the EC 1935/2004 of the European Parliament on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.

Second, the EC2023/2006 on good manufacturing practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.

Third. the EC 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to be in contact with food.

RFID ham industry
RFID for food, for example, hams. Photo by Thomas Vogel on Unsplash.

Other considerations about safety when food is in contact with RFID tags

Besides the conformity with the EU regulations, we want to note other conditions that we consider important to preserve safety.

The antenna and chip can’t be in contact with food

RFID antennas within tags use to be made of aluminium and chips have diverse substances and metals. So, the RFID inlay needs to be enclosed to avoid their contact with food. Obviously, the materials to keep apart the antenna and the chip from the food must be suitable for food contact.

The label with the RFID tag must be clearly noticed

The size of the RFID tag must be enough big to be seen without any possibility of being unnoticed or get mixed up. The positioning of the tag needs to be out of food, not only for safety but for the better performance of the RFID tag, because as you may know, RFID tag performance gets worse with liquids and greases.

We hope the article has been useful. If you wish to be informed about RFID technology and Trace ID subscribe to our newsletter here.

Considerations about RFID for food
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The RFID for quality control in production processes

RFID for quality control in production processes is one of the applications of RFID technology, among the many and varied that exist, but, even so, with technological advances and the emergence of new needs, new applications and solutions are still being developed to respond to realities in constant transformation. In this previous article on RFID tags, you can find a very useful explanation about the main applications of RFID technology.

Here, we will explain how RFID technology contributes to better quality control in production processes.

Traceability in the manufacture of customized products

Nowadays, manufacturers face the challenge of meeting the demand for customized products, for example, car models configured according to customer preferences, or sports shoes with the combination of colours, materials and the size chosen by the buyer on the online store.

These current needs of manufacturers have increased the demand for RFID systems for traceability, due to their high data collection and management reliability and the increased profitability they entail. RFID systems operate in manufacturing in a transversal way contributing to the greater effectiveness in various processes, such as:

—In asset tracking,
—In the flow of materials,
—In control of production,
—On the follow up along the supply chain.

Today, having an RFID system implemented for traceability and quality control is the only way to operate with true business intelligence. The accuracy of the data thanks to RFID technology has allowed a greater development of automation in manufacturing. Avoiding manual collection errors and reducing process times, financially, the cost decreases while the quality increases.

Another advantage of the implementation of an RFID system in the production process is that it facilitates the visibility of the entire workflow. With this clearer visibility, a better and greater understanding of the processes from beginning to end is achieved. In this way, decision making is more accurate thanks to being further informed. A better decision, higher quality.

Security in the supply chain and workflow

With an RFID system increases the safety of products and machinery. The breakdowns of a machine are recorded on its RFID tag, as well as the repair actions, creating a report which is accessed quickly and effectively, so contributing to deciding and implementing better preventive actions to avoid production stoppages due to breakdowns. The costs of machine failures (production stoppages, manufacturing errors, repairs, replacement of components, etc.) are reduced by following this quality control system based on the application of RFID technology.

On the other hand, all the assets are fast located with accuracy, resulting in the quality of production. In other previous articles, we talked about how RFID technology saves costs by avoiding stock breakage or, on the contrary, excessive accumulation of a product, such as in this one dedicated to how to assess costs and benefits of RFID implementation.

The greater visibility in real-time, and in a very exact way of the entire supply chain is also a factor that ends up having a greater quality control in the production processes.

We hope this article has been of your interest. In Trace ID we are manufacturers of RFID tags, the only manufacturer in Spain and pioneer in Europe. Do not hesitate to contact us for your RFID supplies.

Main photograph of Louis Reed on Unsplash.
The RFID for quality control in production processes
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RFID tags for production processes in the automotive industry

In the automotive industry, the use of RFID tags and RFID reading and writing devices is growing day by day at every step of the production processes, because it is the most reliable way to identify the parts that correspond to each car configured by each customer.

An RFID system can cover every identification need of every plant task from metal plates workshop until the car leaves the factory. The majority of personalizations of a car materialize during assembly, so there are many versions of the same model in the production line. With RFID solutions, the identification of each piece and each car is accurate and updated in real time.

The RFID technology is not only reliable and fast, but it is also very resistant to the roughness of manufacturing, such as high temperatures or corrosive substances. The RFID tags that are used in this sort of industrial implementations are single-use labels which are usually destroyed during or at the end of the manufacturing process.

RFID tags suitable for automotive production processes

On the one hand, there are RFID tags that will work on metal (which interferes with the operation of radio frequency waves), and on the other, those that will be on hard plastics, glass and other materials.

In addition, the materials in which the inlay should be (RFID antenna with a chip inserted on a substrate) must be resistant to the appropriate temperatures and to the substances used in manufacturing.

The RFID tags that work on metal adhere to the piece and are usually on a material that separates the metal antenna from one to two millimetres, so that it does not interfere with the performance of the RFID tag. Another solution to label with RFID metal parts is to use flanges, so that the label is hung and not attached to the sheet, but this solution is not always possible due to issues such as the type of handling of the parts.

As for the RFID tags that are going to adhere to hard plastic parts, these are adhesive RFID tags that do not need that distance between the piece and the antenna.

If you need more information about RFID tags for production processes please contact us, we are pioneer manufacturers in Europe and unique in Spain of RFID tags.

Author of the main photography: Mixabest

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The pharmaceutical logistics optimized with RFID tags

Pharmaceutical products are subject to specific conservation and safety requirements which condition pharmaceutical logistics (traceability, temperature control or cold chain, documentary system, anti-counterfeiting system, location, personalization, etc.). In addition, in the transport and storage of medicines, various Health and Safety Directives must be complied with, depending on the geographical area or areas involved, and types of medication.

In this article, we will show the main specific needs of pharmaceutical logistics that covers RFID technology.

Avoiding the counterfeiting of medicines

We lived in the era of counterfeits, there is no design or packaging that can not be falsified. In the pharmaceutical industry, this problem also exists, with the aggravating circumstance that the consequences of consuming a counterfeit medicine could be dramatic. In contrast, when a drug is labelled with an RFID tag, the laboratory’s source coding system prevents the counterfeit, since the RFID tag has a unique number in its memory to identify that unique container. That number stored on the label not only identifies a single container, it also includes it in a batch, in a recipe and in a patent and a trademark.

Labelling of personalized medicines

Medicine is increasingly delving into the effectiveness of personalized treatments, as the most effective method to cure the same disease in different patients. For example, a specific type of cancer needs significantly different strategies depending on the history of each patient. For this type of personalized medications, RFID tagging avoids errors while facilitating storage, transport and generation of documentation. Thanks to a well-implanted RFID system, these medications are perfectly controlled.

RFID tags for pharmaceutical logistics

Control of medication for hospitalized patients

On the other hand, a patient labelled with RFID through to the hospital bracelet, with which they identify him when he is admitted, is a patient who carries with him all his history, medication treatment and all his information. In this way, many errors in the medication are avoided.

Location of lots for removal

When a particular lot must be removed from the distribution, if the pharmaceutical products are marked with RFID tags for pharmaceutical logistics, it is very easy to locate all the items in the same lot for withdrawal from the pharmaceutical supply chain.

How drugs are labelled with RFID

The RFID tags can be placed on medicine containers in different ways. One way can be the insertion in the bottle container by injection. Another can be the label sticked to the pot or box. A third option may be to attach it as a flag to the bottle or tube. In this context, the important thing is the RFID tag is well subjected to the product in a very robust way so that it does not be missed during transport and storage.

Are you interested in buying RFID tags for logistics? Contact us!

The pharmaceutical logistics optimized with RFID tags
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Assess and quantify the profits of investing in RFID applications

The implementation of RFID applications increases every day and is not a trend that has a close ceiling, but rather the opposite, the number of companies that will implement RFID systems in their processes will increase. In this article, we will not go into the reasons why it is so important for companies to optimize the efficiency of their processes thanks to RFID technology. But we are going to focus on how companies can value and quantify the expenses and profits of investing in RFID applications, in a simple and general way.

Three success stories and a “safe bet” that can encourage you to take the step

Without wishing to be exhaustive, we will expose three emblematic success stories of the implementation of RFID technology, in addition to what we would call a safe bet that will positively impact globally, at least, to all people who check in a suitcase, and which will mean a great advance in security thanks to RFID technology when we travel.

In retail, *the case of Zara is one of the greatest successes that demonstrate the profitability of the RFID application for apparel. As of 2016, the Inditex Group implemented RFID technology in 100% of the Zara stores. According to its president, the RFID implementation would mean a saving of working time, the streamlining of logistics work, and real-time knowledge of the availability of garments both in-store and online by all employees. In addition, its system of “RFID-Alarm tags” is reusable, so its alarm hardtags can be erased and recoded up to more than 100 times. A very important fact is that the RFID system allows to control in detail the so-called unknown loss (theft, fraud of suppliers, internal and external errors, breakages…) which can lead to a loss of up to 0.8%, which in Inditex could mean up to 100 million euros. The result of the implementation of RFID in Zara has been so good that all Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe stores will have RFID systems in 2020. (*Source: Claudia Espejo Repiso, Estudio de las aplicaciones de la tecnología RFID y su grado de implantación, 2018.)

The field of logistics accumulates more than half of the implementation of RFID in the world, so our next case is also within this area. We talked about the experience with the implementation of RFID of the group of *Éxito supermarkets, leaders of retail in Latin America. Grupo Éxito reported that the cost of inventory management was reduced by 93% thanks to the implementation of RFID technology, and shrinkage was reduced by 60%. (*Source: zonalogistica.com, Implementación de tecnología RFID en Grupo Éxito.)

To finish, a case of the success of RFID applications that many do not imagine is the *RFID application for surgical instruments and hospital disposables. Its use is actually to prevent instruments and gauzes from remaining inside the patient after an intervention. Gauze and needles are the most often forgotten objects inside patients after an operation. The reason is that the manual count is not reliable. So the use of RFID technology is growing to avoid these accidents that can cost lives. Not all the profits of RFID are economic, they are also linked to the improvement of safety in health and other areas. Thanks to the RFID wristbands, each patient is linked to their history and medication errors, allergies or treatments are reduced. (* Source: intramed.net, Foreign objects retained in surgical patients.)

Finally, as a safe bet for RFID technology, we point out the decision of IATA (International Air Transport Association) to implement a global development plan to tag all suitcases with RFID, and in this way, respond to travellers’ expectations to have an exact and real-time tracking of your checked baggage.

The profitability of RFID applications

Calculating the profitability of RFID applications has the difficulty of quantifying predictive variables, such as how many sales do I lose due to stock breakage? How much money do I waste on products that will not leave the warehouse? Let’s see it below.

How to quantify the necessary investment

To calculate the necessary investment for our RFID implementation we will consider at least these costs:

  1. Acquisition of physical devices (readers, printers, portals …)
  2. Acquisition of consumables such as RFID tags.
  3. Acquisition of software.
  4. Cost of RFID system design
  5. Reorganization costs.
  6. Personnel training costs.

All this is calculated in suppliers’ budgets without any difficulty. But what about the profits, with which we want to not only amortize the investment, but add to our current annual profits? let’s keep going.

How to value the profits

Calculating the profits of RFID applications is much more complex. To calculate the profits resulting from our RFID implementation we will consider at least these returns:

  1. Greater accuracy of inventory with less manual intervention, which means a reduction in working hours.
    1.1. In this section, we would calculate the time per item of inventory to know the total annual time of carrying out the inventory, and with that, we would obtain the cost of the manual inventory. Then we would compare it with the time of carrying out the automated inventory with RFID, and thus we would obtain the profit.
  2. Avoid losses, theft, misplacements, fraud. How much money do the unknown losses represent in your company? The money that you would stop losing while avoiding the unknown losses can be based on the historical inventory figures. As we can see in the table below, Kurt Salmon calculated the reduction of the unknown loss by 33.7% in retail.
  3. Avoid stock breakage. How can you calculate the sales you lose because the customer does not find your product on the shelf, on the web or you can not serve it on time? This is more complex to calculate. According to the same study by Kurt Salmon for Accenture, the reduction of stock breakage with RFID is 40.6%.
  4. Reduction or elimination of surplus products. In the same way that we avoid stock breakages thanks to the speed and accuracy of the information provided by an RFID system; we can also avoid providing products that do not have as much output. How much money do the products that do not leave the warehouse mean in our company? We can have approximate figures thanks to the historical. The need to reduce surplus products so that they have output is reduced by 19.6%, according to the aforementioned study.
  5. Increased response speed to orders. Do we lose sales because we can not respond on time?
  6. More efficient shipments. Do we lose sales because they do not arrive or arrive too late?

To approach a calculation of the profits we have mentioned the study that Kurt Salmon carried out for Accenture in 2016 on the application of RFID in retail (you can find it on his website kurtsalmon.com). With which we have made the following table:

Profitability of the RFID application in retail according to Kurt Salmon

The profitability of the RFID application in retail according to Kurt Salmon for Accenture, 2016.

All the money that we save added to all the money that we stop losing more the money resulting from the increase of the sales by a greater efficiency thanks to the RFID technology would be the profits of the implementation of the RFID system in the company.

How long is the investment amortized and net profits of the RFID system obtained?

As well as the profits related to the improvement of processes, such as speed, efficiency, real-time updating, global communication, they are noticed immediately after the implementation of the RFID system. The economic profits start from the fact that they have amortized the investment. The desirable thing would be to amortize the investment between the first and second year of implementation of the RFID implementation. Although the implementation of an RFID system is still a big investment for many companies.

Amortization of an RFID system

Amortization of an RFID system.

A question that you can not continue avoiding:

Does it make sense for my business not to implement an RFID system?

This is a question that each organization must make to itself with a single horizon, that of continuing to be a profitable company and updated in its time tomorrow.

We hope that this article has been useful and we urge you to contact us if you have any questions regarding the purchase of your RFID tags.

Main photo source: Helloquence on Unsplash.
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