Published in Journal of Applied Packaging Research, Volume 2, Issue 3, March 1, 2008, pages 179-189. Copyright © 2008 DEStech Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Proper implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID) has the potential to revolutionize supply chain management. This technology provides simultaneous indirect scanning of multiple packages and palletized loads equipped with a RFID tag, transmitting substantially more information than a bar code. Also, stored information on the tag can be updated according to inventory status, thus, eliminating key limitations of barcode technology. This study was designed to address some of the currently known shortcomings of the RFID technology. One of the commonly occurring drawbacks is transmitted signal from RFID antennae is reflected from metal objects or absorbed by water contained in a product. These limitation of effective reads can be easily shown using EPC Hotspot, which is capable of creating a profile map for product cases based on the correct reads of RFID tags. This study included three types of packaged products that were palletized. These were filled beverage in metal cans, filled water in plastic bottles and plastic wrapped paper towels. The objective of the study was to assess overall tag readability of three newly developed Gen 2 RFID tags as a function of tag location and orientation, product composition, case location on a pallet load and speed of material handling equipment. The results indicated that overall readability was highest for 'paper towels' followed by 'water filled bottles' and 'soda filled cans' across all RFID tags. Also, it was established that normal forklift speeds barely affect overall tag readability with the exception of very poor tag "visibility" for filled beverage in metal cans. In summary a better understanding of tag placement on products at the case level was achieved at the completion of this study along with effective speeds of material handling equipment that allow for high read rates.