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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.”