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Xindeco IOT – RFID Tag Quality Assurance with Tagformance and Tagsurance

中文版 Chinese version

Xindeco IOT Technology Ltd. is a leading RFID tag manufacturer based in Xiamen, China. Founded in 2005, Xindeco IOT has over 15 years of RFID tags design & manufacturing experience. As the pioneer of the Internet of Things industry, the company has nearly 50 RFID inlay production lines. The lines can produce over 2.5 billion pcs RFID inlays & tags annually. Xindeco IoT is the Top 3 RFID tag ODM & OEM supplier in the world.

Xindeco IOT uses Voyantic Tagformance and Tagsurance systems mainly for assuring the quality of the RFID tags. The systems are key components in Xindeco’s 100% quality assurance policy. RFID tags were checked before shipment to the customer. The systems are used for testing both UHF RFID and HF RFID tags in R&D, in production, and in the QC department.

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Mr. Li Lin, General Manager of R&D department, explains: The Voyantic Tagformance systems with anechoic chambers are used in the design lab for evaluating the inlay designs. The Tagformance systems are also used in sample testing the tag performance and quality of manufactured tags. With the systems, we can verify all the essential parameters such as tag sensitivity.

The Voyantic systems are precise and easy to use. Their quality is excellent. We have had the Tagformance lite system for a long time already, and there have been no failures, it is still working very well. Mr. Li Lin tells.

Mr. Zhou Senmao, Manager of QC department, continues: The Voyantic Tagsurance systems are used in quality control during production, in-line at the production machines. In the quality testing, the tag performance is checked at a few critical frequencies, this procedure assures that each tag works as specified. The Tagsurance systems are also used in separate off-line QC tests.

Voyantic Tagsurance UHF systems have been used for verifying the consistency of the UHF tag quality. The systems are fast. They are used in manufacturing lines running at high speeds without any misjudgments. And all the data is saved in real-time.

The systems have helped to improve the quality inspection accuracy, and at the same time greatly improved the efficiency of the QC. Now our quality is excellent and also our production yields have increased. Mr. Zhou Senmao describes.

Xindeco IOT teams are continuously developing manufacturing and quality control activities. The latest developments include improvements in HF RFID quality testing, and combining Tagsurance based RF-testing with Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment.

We hope that in the future Voyantic would be even more involved in training us, and together we could find still new ways to improve our manufacturing and quality control. Mr. Li Lin visions the future.

Cooperation between Voyantic and Xindeco IOT will continue strongly.

RFCAMP Ltd

Since its establishment in 2004, RFCAMP Ltd. has been the leading Korean RFID specialty tag provider with a 50% market share in on-metal applications. The company has exported tags branded “Titan” to more than 40 countries.

“Annually, we are engaged in more than 200 RFID projects all over the world, and each project – or each customer – needs tags that are best fit for their environment. We, therefore, strongly feel that the specialty tag business is rather of service, not production” says Jerry Ryu, the Founder and CEO of RFCAMP. “In order to satisfy our clients, we must prove that the tag we suggest truly is best fit for the required environment, and we believe the use of Voyantic’s Tagsurance is the most reliable and persuasive way”.

“When we get a call from a customer concerning tag performance, we set up a similar environment internally, measure the tag sensitivity with the Tagsurance and send our report to our customer. At that time most customers become convinced.” “If the issue is more serious, we pack the Tagsurance and visit the RFID site to measure and test the tags in front of our customers, which has helped RFCAMP become a more reliable supplier”.

“For the tag business, Voyantic’s products are needed for the tag development and production. However, they are needed the most when interfacing with a customer” says Jerry Ryu.

Technologies ROI LLC

Technologies ROI LLC (aka TROI) was founded in 2002 in South Carolina, USA. TROI is a supplier of RFID tags principally to the Energy Sector and specifically to the Oil and Gas Industry. The key differentiator for TROI tags is that they are designed and manufactured using military and industrial electronics conventions such as solder bonding wire antennas in contrast to other suppliers’ tendency to package inlay labels. As a result, all TROI tags are temperature rated to 200c and many up to 300c. The subsequent packaging allows for rapid attachment and harsh environment integrity.

“I met Voyantic when they began and were just moving from academic environment to commercial one. I have followed the Voyantic product development through the years with deep interest. As TROI designs grew in complexity – for example the patented TROI metal encased UHF tags – there came a need to use exact RF spectrum analysis in making changes and corrections. Perhaps more important is quality assurance that 100% of TROI tags meet TROI standards for uniformity and performance, which is achieved today using the Tagsurance solution for 100% of incoming parts for order receipt and outgoing final tags for clients.” says Dr. Patrick King, Founder of Technologies ROI LLC.

“I asked my wife if she would rather have a new boat or buy a Voyantic Tagsurance, she immediately said to buy Tagsurance. She has never regretted her vote of confidence and decision. We look forward to even an additional purchase.” laughs Dr. King. “We use the Voyantic Tagsurance system mainly for design editing and correction and tuning, but also for manufacturing quality assurance for incoming raw tags and outgoing finished goods. The system solves problems and helps avoid problems.”

SAG – Ensuring Efficiency in R&D and Quality in Production

During the past two decades, SAG has positioned itself from an RFID transponder manufacturer to the solution provider. “Back in 2017, we became an alliance member at RAIN RFID, which advocates UHF technology. Seeing the growing demand for RFID transponder targeting at the theme of IoT and Industry 4.0, we are proud to bring our know-how and expertise for customization and end-to-end production capability for realization. Our breakthroughs happen in many applications from different sectors. We came up with the hard tag which goes to the dense metal environment for industrial purpose. We introduced a label which ignores water interference for health care consumables. We brought card and wristband that sees no reading distance drop on the human body to realize hands-free applications for gateway passing. And we customized one tag for both metal and non-metal asset management to benefit the logistic world. We are capable of taking out the hiccups people face when they plan to implement RFID but the environmental challenges just don’t agree”, says Mr. Terry Chiang, General Manager.

“We use Tagformance during product development and Tagsurance for quality assurance in mass production because Voyantic is the most trusted and reliable equipment for RAIN RFID product inspection. Tagsurance is used to inspect the electric performance for HF and RAIN RFID product while Tagformance is to check the reading distance of RAIN RFID product.”

“Tagformance assists our antenna design job with great efficiency and this is very important for product development. On the other hand, Tagsurance plays an important role in quality assurance because it detects a tag’s electrical performance by providing multiple frequency points. This is different from the traditional Go/No-Go test which relies on a single frequency value. “, explains Mr. Terry Chiang, General Manager of SAG.

Mr. Juho Partanen (Voyantic) and Mr. Terry Chiang (SAG)

“We are happy with the excellent service such as onsite training and prompt response to our questions when we operate the systems. Voyantic system facilitates our product development and mass production. The obtained data has great value in guiding us to correct and improve a product’s performance so as to satisfy our customers”, continues Mr. Terry Chiang, General Manager of SAG.

SAG Technical Manager Mr. Kevin Kuo is happy about the efficiency improvement that Tagsurance HF has brought into SAG production line. He says:

“Tagsurance HF testing speed is much faster than normal commercial HF reader. The UPH has been increased over 200% after Tagsurance HF replaced the commercial reader in our converting line. Tagsurance HF can sort out those weak performance tags that a normal reader is unable to achieve. More importantly, Tagsurance can also record each tag minimum turn-on power which is very useful information for our engineers to adjust the machine manufacturing parameters and to enhance the tag quality control.”

Mr. Kevin Kuo, Mr. Juho Partanen, Mr. Terry Chiang, Mr. Smoos Peng (from left to right)

HID Global built a Reputation Based on Quality

HID Global, with over two decades of RFID development and manufacturing experience, offers the industry’s most diverse and flexible line of RFID tags and transponders. As a trusted source for secure identity solutions, HID Global has built a reputation based on quality, which the Voyantic Tagsurance plays an important role in assisting them to continually deliver.

Eric Suligoj, Director of Business Development Industry & Logistics, Identification Technologies at HID Global, is very pleased with the test system:

“The Tagsurance UHF tester has been implemented in our production facility at HID Global in 2011. We use this product to test our UHF tag products in their final phase of production. We were surprised by its speed of measurement. Minimizing the time taken to test each tag is an important factor during the quality control process given the volumes of tags we produce daily. But more importantly, this tester delivers accurate characterization data we haven’t had access to before. This will enable us to fine-tune our processes and continue to deliver best-in-class UHF tag products.”

Omnia Technologies Relies on Voyantic Solutions to Verify Tag Design and Production Quality

Indian RFID tag manufacturer, Omnia Technologies, based in Gurgaon has successfully entered the UHF tag business after adopting Voyantic measurement and testing solutions. Omnia started its RFID business by manufacturing LF and HF tags. In order to meet the customer requirements and to increase product profitability, they decided to add UHF hard tags into their product portfolio in 2014. Currently, Omnia is providing a full range of passive RFID hard tags, and 95% of its products are exported to overseas markets.

According to Rajesh Paul, R&D Manager of Omnia, Voyantic solutions are the key to driving Omnia’s UHF tag business growing.

“After three years of investment and hard work, currently about 50% of our company’s turnover comes from selling UHF hard tags. Our engineers first use the Voyantic Tagformance measurement system to verify the tag design based on the customer’s specifications. After that, we do the tag quality checking with Tagsurance in the production before shipment. Both Tagformance and Tagsurance systems have shortened our new product development time and enhanced our product quality control level tremendously.”, says Rajesh Paul.

Smoos Peng [APAC Director of Voyantic] with Rajesh Paul and Sneha Tiwari from Omnia in Gurgaon, India in May 2018.

Stanley Black & Decker

Stanley Black & Decker is a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security and engineered fastening systems, with unique growth platforms and a track record of sustained profitable growth. Since 1843, their goal has been simple: provide tools and solutions that make life easier. With the Facom® branded UHF RFID equipped tool product family, Stanley Black & Decker addresses the customer needs in Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Management and tool traceability, which are especially critical in industries like aerospace, transportation, food industry, oil & gas and more generally energy market segments.

For a company like Stanley Black & Decker, with the experience of delivering high quality products for decades, the importance of testing each tagged tool is obvious. “We use the Tagsurance UHF tester to verify the RF performance of each and every Facom RFID tool delivered to a customer. It enables guaranteeing stable read range for the tagged tool, allowing reliable application functionality. With the same equipment we are able to check and verify our tag vendors’ quality.” says Florian Lambert, RFID Engineer at Stanley Black & Decker. “As Voyantic equipment is widely used globally, it is very easy for us to compare results and share files with our vendors. Voyantic brought us a great amount of knowledge in a short time, when we were initializing our project. Their support has shown quick response times in any requests we have made and have shown to adapt to our specifications of traceability and manufacturing process.”

 

Smartres — Production of High Performance RFID with High Efficiency

Smartres is a well-known Italian RFID tag R&D center and manufacturer. The company has developed its own patented solution to create inlay-less products using technology with chip-on-strap coupled with copper wire antenna. The process provides eco-friendlier products compared to traditional processes, with best in class RF performance. After ten years of experience in manufacturing, utilizing their own designed machinery, Smartres decided to take a step forward. A4IS was commissioned to build a new manufacturing line based on the Smartres process, design, and previously built know-how.

Automation 4 Industrial Solutions (A4IS) is a new company dedicated to the creation of automatic manufacturing lines for various industries and specifically for the RFID world. Smartres have now started to use this new machine called FTL6000 in their own production, where they are producing both HF/NFC and UHF tags.

RFID Tag Variety and Selection

Amongst the various types of tags offered to the market, UHF RFID tags are widely used in various market segments and applications such as Fashion, Logistics, Waste Management, Tires Tracking, and many more. Various antenna form factors and technics, as well as several chips, are used to tailor the best suitable solution for each application.

“For designing the antennas for our tags, the Voyantic Tagformance has been a priceless tool, which has saved us time and given our engineers the chance to get things done efficiently and with high confidence.” says Luigi Radaelli, CEO at Smartres.

“Easy to use and effective in validating the selected antenna profile to get the desired performance, Tagformance is the ideal device for the RFID designer”* confirms Davide Bergamini, Smartres CTO.

How to Provide “100% Performance Tested RFID” Efficiently?

Being able to tailor the best tag for each application purpose is one thing. What becomes at least as an important factor for guaranteeing a faultless RFID system, is that each delivered tag meets the designed performance. The only way to assure this is to verify the performance level of the produced RFID tags by 100%. With a wide banded component like a UHF tag, this cannot be done by checking the tag functionality on one frequency only, but accurately measuring the required wake-up power on multiple frequencies throughout the tag’s frequency band.

The most efficient way of monitoring product quality in a reel to reel manufacturing line is to produce RFID tags and have them tested in the same process. This allows reacting immediately to any changes in the RF performance of the process outcome. Having the testing inline instead of having it offline as a separate testing process, not only avoids large scale rework but also enables one process less. This means less machinery, fewer work hours, and less handling of the reels and having the risk of accidentally damaging the tags. In the end, this all comes down to delivering high-quality tags, with 100% measured and proven RF performance, efficiently.

This Is How to Do It!

As said before, RFID tag quality is mandatory, and the 100% supply of UHF RFID products performing within the specifications tolerances is specifically what the market looks for. To be able to grant this, on top of having the most efficient and reliable tag assembly operations, Smartres and A4IS decided to put in line the measurement of the response curve of the tags by adopting the Voyantic Tagsurance Tester, a state of the art device. With Tagsurance, each UHF RFID tag produced is checked against specifications and validated whether it’s good or not and instead of just marking the failed tags, also the performance level measured is recorded for each tag. These recorded log files give true traceability to the production quality data also afterward.

“Having the Voyantic Tagsurance in our manufacturing for some years already has given us a great advantage for process development and helped us to achieve a world-class high precision production process. We are delivering over 30 million UHF tags yearly with measured quality, yet produced with the best efficiency and minimum labor cost.” says Federico Chiesa , Smartres Operations Manager, going on with: “The in-line adoption of the Tagsurance allows avoiding any additional off-line operations. This minimizes the extent of damage caused by any errors and mistakes like poor raw material quality, process parameters or parts wearing, as any fault can be spotted immediately. It’s a valid support for the machine operator who has the live visibility of the machinery performance, allowing immediate action for any adjustment, resulting in the best possible efficiency. With a highly automated process as ours, part of the efficiency comes from the fact that only one operator is required to run two machines.”

Lab ID – Fast, Reliable and Accurate Testing with Voyantic

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Bologna, Italy, LAB ID is a leading European manufacturer and supplier of RFID inlays and tags. Over the years the company has strengthened their business by increasing production capacity and enriching product portfolio, developing new high quality tags and solutions dedicated to specific market segments, such as fashion/luxury goods. Quality is the firm point of the company policy, and thanks to the Voyantic Tagformance and Tagsurance testing systems, they maintain it always controlled and top level.

According to Marzio Amadori, CTO – Managing Director, the Voyantic equipment is extremely versatile and easy to use.

“We use the Tagsurance to test our UHF tags inline when they reach the final testing phase. This enables us to keep constant control of the quality of each tag assembled. We use it both with dry inlays and final products.”

The Voyantic testing system is extremely fast, reliable, and accurate. But its use is not limited to the production phase only.

“We use the Tagformance for our R&D work when designing a new tag or a new RFID solution. It is extremely helpful. Apart from production, it is also very useful for testing RFID tags in a real operational environment. We are fully satisfied with the service and assistance offered by the Voyantic team; they are always available and ready to address our requests.”, says Marzio Amadori

Michelin — Tire Tags with Consistent Quality

Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin is one of the world’s largest tire companies. Michelin manufactures, distributes, and sells tires worldwide. It also offers truck driver assistance services; and fleet tire advice, maintenance, and management services, as well as publishes maps and guides to provide mobility assistance services.

Michelin embeds EPC Class 1 Gen 2 passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification tags into tire sidewalls during the manufacturing process. This allows, for example, the city’s bus-fleet operators or Michelin’s staff to use RFID to automatically identify each tire at the time that its pressure is being measured and more generally allows a cradle to grave traceability.

The Michelin RFID tag is specifically designed to be integrated into tires. It is typically buried in the tire during the manufacturing process, but can also be integrated into a patch for aftermarket applications. The tag’s read range has been optimized for in-tire use, and the quality assurance based on performance testing is essential to guarantee that each tag has the same properties. After being embedded in a tire, the tag cannot be replaced anymore, should it function poorly.

The Voyantic Tagsurance UHF production tester was the solution meeting the specification for testing the Michelin tire tags. The tags are first tested by the tag vendor HANA Microdisplay Technologies, Inc at their factory with an automated test system. Michelin has the same Tagsurance testing capability to enable sample-based quality control in the form of incoming inspection at their facilities.

“RFID UHF tags for tire applications are significantly over tuned because of tire material properties, and this makes RF performance – i.e., read distance control – more complex to perform “in the air” compared to more common tags. This challenge can be solved from an industrial standpoint if:

  1. the system can properly process each tag test without direct contact;
  2. the test can be done reliably with a large number of other tags in the surroundings;
  3. the production flow itself is improved and accelerated.

All this has been achieved today, thanks to our partner Voyantic, and this will lead Michelin to supply an improved RFID reading capability over volumes for its customers!”,* explains Julien Destraves, Tire RFID expert from Michelin.

 Download a Framework for Applying RFID Tags in Tire Industry › 

Automated Test System for Tire Tag Testing

The Voyantic UHF production testing system consists of the Tagsurance Tester unit and the Snoop Pro coupling element, which enables reliable near field testing for UHF tags. Unlike typical UHF near field antennas, the Snoop Pro coupling element enables characterizing the complete dipole tag structure with excellent correspondence to the far-field behavior.

The Michelin tire factory uses the Voyantic Tagsurance-based Manual Test Station to perform sample-based check and analysis for the incoming tags. At the tag manufacturing plant, the same Voyantic system has been seamlessly integrated by HANA Microdisplay Technologies, Inc. into a precision actuator assembly. It moves a tray of tags on the Snoop Pro antenna, accurately aligning each tag on top of it for testing. With this test system, Hana Microdisplay can 100% guarantee the quality of the tags to their customers.

This is how John Erdmann, the President and CEO of HANA Microdisplay Technologies, Inc. sees the challenges of RFID testing and the role of good equipment in overcoming those challenges:

“Hana Microdisplay produces many types of RFID products and systems. There’s always a challenge in doing accurate and relevant RFID testing quickly and cost-effectively. With the Voyantic system, Hana’s automation engineers were able to integrate a high-level of testing into the process without sacrificing throughput. The data output of the system also allows us to provide more accurate feedback to both our customers and manufacturing lines, to help them design better products and processes. After understanding the capabilities of the Voyantic system during the project with Michelin, Hana Microdisplay chose to implement a Voyantic test system in its most recent roll-to-roll, web-based, high-speed RFID inlay manufacturing line. Hana is also considering retrofitting its older high-speed inlay manufacturing lines to include Voyantic systems.”

The Challenge of High Resonance Frequency

As the UHF tags manufactured by Hana Micro Display to Michelin are embedded in tires, they will be surrounded by rubber and metal mesh structures, which very heavily detune the tags. To compensate for this detuning, the tag is significantly over-tuned to ~2GHz resonance frequency in the air environment.

To lower the tags’ resonance frequency for testing, some modifications were done on the Snoop Pro coupling element. The shielding plate structure on top of the Snoop Pro is intended to shield out the adjacent tags so that only the tag of interest will be tested at a time. In this solution, the shielding plate was custom designed for the Michelin tags. The plate opening incorporates an additional capacitive loading structure. The structure is cut into two parts from the center to prevent direct shorting resulting in two separate capacitive loading strips. The strips are electrically connected along the opening edges. Optimizing this path length lets the Snoop Pro coupling element mimic the tag loading the tire would generate. The tuning effect was adjusted so that the overall bandwidth of all the Michelin tags designed for different tire types fit into the Tagsurance 800-1100MHz operating frequency range.

In the below picture, there are some example frequency responses of different tag designs measured on the Snoop Pro coupling element. The actual resonance frequencies of the tags are around 2GHz, but due to the tuning effect of the plate structure, the resonance frequency has been brought down to 920 – 1020MHz.

In addition to the metal strips, also a magnetic element adjusting was implemented under the plate to pull the ends of the tag towards the Snoop Pro. The purpose of this is to avoid any variation due to tag placement inside the tray. When using near field coupling in measurements, the tag alignment needs to be accurate to avoid variation due to the test setup.

High-Performance UHF Tags with Stable Quality

The performance testing provided by the Tagsurance UHF production tester allows not only checking that the tags are functional, but that their performance is stable and thus quality is controlled. The testing is done on a frequency range of 800-1100MHz, but for high-speed production testing, the number of frequencies on that range can be limited to guarantee the testing will not become the bottleneck of the process.

The above graph shows example data of passed (green) and failed (red) tag responses from production. The accurately measured power threshold data is gathered from the production and can be used to analyze the process capability and to track the level of variation from day-to-day. Accurate variance data enables detecting any drifts immediately, executing corrective actions even before the quality falls out of acceptable levels.

RF testing used to be one of the bottlenecks in the tire tag production process; now, with the Tagsurance, this bottleneck is removed, and the slowest processes are the mechanical ones.