NEC said its new gate system enables the collective scanning of multiple UHF RFID tags, cuttingdown on error read rates and speeding up the process of tracking products along the supply chain.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is helping to transform logistics by providing ameans of tracking and tracing individual products throughout the supply chain. However the high costof tags and error read rates have held back the development of the technology, despite mandates frommajor retailers such as Wal-Mart.
RFID technology is a means of distinguishing individual items by attaching tags and specificcodes to them. As such it is more accurate than the current bar code system in use. RFID tag data iswritten or read using radio waves, thus allowing for the management of processing and distributionflows throughout the supply chain.
According to NEC existing UHF RFID gate systems currently have a 10 per cent to 20 per cent scanning error rate when used onmultiple packages. The high error rate makes the practical application of such systems difficult.
NEC claims to have solved the problem by using technology it developed using the properties ofreflected radio waves for scanning. Existing gate systems shoot radio waves from antennas to RFID tagsdirectly. NEC's technique involves shooting radio waves indirectly from antennas to RFID tags via reflectorplates.
The reflector plates are on both sides of the inside of the gate, reducing radio wave leakage.The antenna is located in the upper part of the gate, doubling the distance between the antenna and the gate exteriorcompared to conventional systems. This design also reduces radio wave leakage.
" Both of these measures prevent the misreading of RFID tags on adjacent manufacturinglines," NEC claimed.
The technique not only reduces error read rates but also allows the scanning of RFID tags on packages containing liquids or metal,a task that has been difficult to achieve with conventional gate systems. The system is designed for inspection systems on manufacturing lines and for inventorycontrol.
UHF RFIDs has been drawing attention from manufacturers because it enables transmission and read distances of up to a maximum ofsix meters. Many major distributors in the US have already adopted UHF RFIDs and their use is expected to spreadworldwide, NEC said.
NEC has tested the system on an inspection line at one of the company's warehouses that receivesand sends out personal computers.
A gate system includes an RFID reader and writer, an antenna, a controller and a gate. The company plans to launch the system world wide by the end of this year.