Retail Supply Chain Management Solution for Consumer White and Electronics Goods
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for ultra-high frequency (UHF) application and metal products or environments complement one another about as well as oil and water, making RFID-enabled retail supply chain (RSC) management of metal goods a difficult challenge. Sontec Co. Ltd., a leading Korean developer and manufacturer of RFID components and middleware, today announced the availability of various types of mount-on-metal tags and its RFID transponder for metal, which is based upon EPC Gen 2 integrated circuit (IC) chips from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI).
The new RFID transponder features high read-range performance to facilitate supply chain optimization for consumer goods suppliers of appliances, electronics and products with high metal content. To date, TI has shipped 10 million Gen 2 chips to Sontec, who will continue to source chips from TI. Sontec will initially target sales to white-goods and electronics manufacturers in Asia, though ultimately, the manufactured products will ship to global retail markets including Japan and the U.S.
Traditionally, the radio waves emitted from an RFID tag are reflected by metals at ultra-high frequencies and weakened by the eddy currents metals produce. This effect reduces read-range performance and renders the tags less effective in retail supply chain applications where read distances of 10 to 30 feet are required.
Sontecs tag, based on TI Gen 2 technology, is the first practical UHF Gen 2-based RSC management solution for the normally difficult application environment associated with metals, said Dong-Jin Lee, CEO of Sontec, Incorporated. Retailers no longer need additional handheld or labor-intensive solutions to move white-goods and electronics through the supply chain; they can now provide regular retail supply tracking performance when shipping high-content metal materials.
Normal UHF transponders can suffer pronounced reductions in read-range performance when attached to metal due to the fact that the UHF signal is drastically attenuated by the metal surface, said Mikael Ahlund, director of asset tracking for TIs RFID Systems division. Sontecs mount-on-metal packaging technology enables the UHF Gen 2 tag to operate effectively with a very good read range, especially when attached to metal. This is one step towards providing a multitude of solutions needed to move beyond compliance in the supply chain.
TI recently announced the availability of the EPCglobal certified Gen 2 UHF IC chip used in the Sontec tag. Offered in wafer and strap form factors, TI has developed its Gen 2 silicon on the most advanced analog process node at130 nanometer and a built-in Schottky diode for more efficient conversion of RF signal energy, resulting in chips with low power consumption and increased chip-to-reader sensitivity.