When there is a need to increase smart label production volumes, it can be done by adding new machinery, more lanes to existing machinery, or by increasing production speeds. All these methods are in use, and they are combined frequently. For example, new production machines have more lanes and higher lane speeds.
At Voyantic, we are seeing that increasing lane speeds combined with smart label component development has put durability testing into the spotlight. In this article, I analyze the reasons behind increased interest in smart label durability testing, and I will share the basics of the test methodology.
A few months ago, I started receiving questions about switching into a new IC in inlay manufacturing. All these vendors had done several IC changes over the years, but there was something new going on. The questions were centered around possible shortcuts in the process.
“What if I just change the IC and don’t change the antenna design at all?”
“What if I don’t waste time in machine settings and just do it quick n’ dirty?”
“Are there any ICs that are ‘plug and play’ with other models?”
Unfortunately, I could not offer any help. I did find the question interesting though. At first, I tried to figure out some approaches on my own but did not get past the very basics. That is when I asked help from my colleagues Juho Partanen and Jesse Tuominen, and started doing some research on the topic.
For more than a decade, RAIN RFID tag antennas were etched, and the substrate was PET film. Copper was first substituted with aluminium, and various other technologies have emerged, such as printed antennas, and cutting, milling or laser engraving metal foils.
We hosted a webinar on managing quality in RAIN RFID and NFC manufacturing. During the session, industry experts shared their views on setting quality goals, on the relevant standards and on best practices for quality testing through case examples and practical tips. While veterans in RFID quality testing recognize the need for it to achieve excellent and consistent quality, for many less experienced in the field, it can be puzzling to justify the investment for the required RFID test equipment.
I work as an engineer at Voyantic and my main field of expertise are electronics and radio science. Last autumn I started studying business administration to get a wider perspective in general. I have been trying to tie my work and studies together as much as possible, and when I attended a course called “Future experts 2030”, I got the idea to look into the future and see what it might bring for the RFID industry. More specifically: I tried to pick some trends which would have the most impact on the growth of the RFID industry.
On Feb 17th 2021, we hosted an online panel discussion on the future direction of RAIN RFID tag design and tagging implementations. The panelists for the discussion were Matti Tavilampi from Avery Dennison, Steve Berry from Impinj and Jesse Tuominen from Voyantic. The discussion topics ranged from industry trends and standards to the development of readers, systems, ICs, and manufacturing technologies as well as embedded tags and smart packaging.
I recently gave a presentation at the RAIN Alliance and AIM EngageAgain event about co-existence of multiple RAIN RFID systems in hospitals. I felt that the topic is important since the use of RAIN RFID is booming in the healthcare industry – including hospitals. Hospitals are unique and challenging environments as there may be several RAIN RFID systems operating in parallel. Each system has its own tags and readers, but they are not isolated from each other.
The coexistence of these systems should be taken into account from the beginning to ensure reliable system operations. The good news is that RAIN RFID technology includes several tools and methods to help with the challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated many companies, including us, to develop and improve different business areas. We started a project studying ARC certified labels, which first required us to get our hands on as many certified labels as possible. Most companies were easy to cooperate with, but in many cases, the sourcing process was extended by additional communications. As a recommendation to tag suppliers, we want to point out that sample orders can be the start of a new, long-lasting customer relationship, which is a good reason to process sample orders with the same importance as regular orders.
The smaller technical issues often have a root cause in approach to RAIN RFID, especially how it is treated from a continuous improvement point of view. Sometimes (often) RAIN RFID is seen as a one-off IT project. The initial implementation often is an IT project, but when the system is taken into use, the project should not just be signed as complete, but it should be transitioned to the relevant operational organization and under continuous improvement. From this point of RFID has its own particulars.