Paxar uses air to solve Radio Frequency Identification problem

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Liquids and metals can interfere seriously with the marking of merchandise using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Paxar has now developed a label for pallets and cases that solves this notorious problem of RFID technology with air.

While the marking of merchandise with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is rapidly being adapted by retail corporations like the METRO Group or WalMart, one problem has notoriously called for a solution: radio signals in the conventional UHF 866/868 Megahertz frequency range that carry the non-contact data traffic between RFID chip and reader can suffer considerable interference due to liquids or metals in the direct vicinity of the RFID label. Containers of metallic or liquid contents were in the past thus considered unsuitable or at least critical for RFID labeling.

Paxar has now come up with a solution to this central problem of RFID technology that is as simple as it is practical for pallet labeling: air as a spacer. Paxar has called this innovation SpaceTag and applied for a patent. A 3 to 8 mm layer of water-free special foam is sandwiched between the RFID adhesive label and the shipping unit. This material fixes the air. The air-padded RFID label can either be applied to the goods before or after the shrink wrapping process, in which pallets are being wrapped in plastic, and thus is also ideal for use on pickup or sandwich pallets. The elastic SpaceTag gives when transport and warehousing processes get tight. It resumes its original shape thereafter.

SpaceTag is affixed to the pallet in two steps: first the Paxar 9855 RFID printer produces a regular RFID adhesive label with barcode in a single process. The label is then attached to the foam layer either manually or using a labeler, and then to the shipping unit.

The German company SRD Maschinenbau GmbH, an expert in the field for more than 20 years, developed a automatic labeler for the SpaceTag. Together with Paxar they have applied for patent protection of the unit. The on-demand design of the labeler accommodates SpaceTags, regular RFID labels or barcode labels without RFID tags.

Paxar is a member of the METRO Group Future Store Initiative headed by the METRO Group that is promoting RFID technology in Germany. In the meantime, the METRO Group has asked their suppliers to use RFID labeling for pallets: Every new technology poses new challenges, but those can be mastered by combining efforts with our partners, explained Dr. Gerd Wolfram, Chief Executive Officer of MGI METRO Group Information Technology GmbH. The SpaceTag is an innovative and practical solution to a difficult problem. The top METRO official on the new possibilities at reading RFID labels used for fluids and metals: We have once again taken a major step forward in RFID labeling.

The Paxar Corporation, represented in Germany by PAXAR Central Europe GmbH in Sprockhvel, Germany, is a global market leader in product labeling and distribution logistics. PAXAR is committed to RFID technology, focusing on the production of suitable printers and labels as well as on system integration and the set-up and operation of entire RFID label systems. The group is an accredited member of the global standardization agency for RFID technology, EPCglobal.

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