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Not Barcodes or RFID, but Both

Posted May 23, 2012

Leveraging Printer Infrastructure to Reap the Benefits of Converging Technologies

Technology has an inexorable momentum, but one that proceeds at a pace determined by utility. Such is the case with barcodes and radio-frequency identification (RFID).

“When technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road,” said the American writer and editor Stewart Brand. When Wal-Mart issued its famous RFID mandate in 2003, many manufacturers thought they were being steamrolled; pundits saw the mandate as the death knell of barcode technology. Neither the fear nor the forecast has proved accurate.

First, the mandate did not result in a rapid torrent of RFID adoption. Deadlines associated with the mandate have been extended several times because many vendors faced significant difficulties implementing RFID systems, including the relative cost of implementation. The Wall Street Journal published an article stating that the RFID plan set forth by Wal-Mart was “showing signs of fizzling” due to a lack of progress by their executives to introduce the technology to its stores and to the lack of incentives for suppliers.No one was being steamrolled.

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Honeywell Announces the New Optimus 5900 RFID Mobile Computer

Posted May 9, 2012

The New Optimus 5900 RFID Mobile Computer

The Optimus 5900 RFID is a versatile, light industrial mobile computer designed to deliver the benefits of radio frequency identification (RFID) and automated data collection for retail and supply chain enterprises. Providing quick and accurate reading of EPC Gen2 and ISO 18000-6B RFID tags, the Optimus 5900 RFID improves visibility of item-level inventory, helping retailers reduce item out of stocks and merchandise shrink, leading to increased sales and reduced operating costs. The benefits of RFID-based inventory management also extend to warehousing and distribution operations, offering fast and accurate tracking of products from delivery to point of sale.

The lightweight yet rugged mobile computer features an ergonomic form factor for ease of use over an extended period of time and comes complete with a crisp 3.5-inch screen, resistive touch panel and 28-key keyboard for accurate data entry. Integrated Adaptus Imaging Technology 5.0 provides advanced image-based data capture capabilities, allowing workers to perform all inventory management and mobile computing tasks on a single device.

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Primera Announces RX900f Color RFID Printer

Posted May 1, 2012

New color RFID printer encodes and prints onto foam backed RFID tags.

Primera Technology, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty printers, today announced the world’s first on-demand RFID printer for printing and encoding onto foam-backed RFID tags. RX900f utilizes the latest in high-resolution color inkjet technology to print onto and encode foam backed RFID tags up to 1/8” (3.175 mm) thick all in a single pass. Print speed is fast at up to 4.5″ (114mm) per second.

The integrated UHF reader/encoder is supplied by RFID industry leader Intermec. It supports EPC Global Class 1 Gen 2 as well as ISO 18000 -6B and -6C.

Built-in, automatic RFID encoding with high-resolution, 4800 dpi color printing makes it ideal for applications that require foam backed RFID tags and human readable and/or unique identification marking that are used on or near metal and liquids.

Printed labels are highly scratch, water, smudge and tear-resistant. Black pigment ink is available for high UV-resistance.

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Integration of RFID Smart Labels for Third Party Logistics

Posted March 27, 2012

Industry Need

Effective warehouse management involves the control and monitoring of movement of materials including receiving, storage, picking, staging, and shipping. The increased use of outsourcing these activities has given rise to the rapid growth of third party logistics or 3PL. 3PL providers typically specialize in integrating warehousing and operation services that can be scaled and customized to a customer’s requirements. The use of 3PL has become a cost effective way for many businesses to reduce supply chain costs and increase customer satisfaction. With any logistics process, opportunities for human error exist resulting in misplaced or mis-directed inventory. However, with 3PL providers handling inventory for a multitude of customers, high levels of accuracy and efficiency as well as visibility within the operation have become critical requirements.

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Intermec Advanced RFID Extensions (ARX)

Posted March 27, 2012

Intermec introduces the first tag motion software toolkit in a standardized reporting format. Intermec Advanced RFID Extensions (ARX) effectively identifies RFID tags of interest and discriminates surrounding tags, providing customers and software integrators the tools to essentially eliminate false-positive reporting of tags.

Getting the Most out of RFID

RFID provides business benefits and a strong ROI for many applications including asset tracking, materials management, and inventory control. Many processes for identifying objects and recording their movements can be automated by RFID. Unattended readers ensure that asset and inventory movements are recorded and alerts issued if the material is moved to the wrong place or at the wrong time. With a well designed RFID system you know all the intimate details of where everything is, where it’s been and where it needs to go. By making your systems smarter, you will be able to:

  • Realize huge improvements in asset and inventory visibility
  • Resolve problems right when they occur
  • Reduce capital and operations expenses
  • Increase flexibility of your data collection systems
  • Achieve new levels of productivity

RFID automated processes rely on the accuracy of reading the right tags: those that pass through a portal, are on a forklift, or are passing by a checkpoint on a conveyor. Because an RFID reader indiscriminately reads all of the tags that it activates, the presence of stray tags, such as those that pass through a nearby portal or are stationary on nearby racks or pallets, complicates the identification of the true tags of interest versus those that are not part of the process in action.

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Achieve Your Federal Identification Credentialing Goals

Posted March 23, 2012

Enabling Security, Compliance, and Efficiency

Identity management and verification depend on trusted credentialing technologies. U.S. federal, state and local governments and private enterprises alike are seeking ways to improve security, not just for facility access, but also for single-sign-on into cyberspace. Furthermore, non-federal issuers of identity cards demand cost-effective, compliant methods to produce identity cards that interoperate with federal government Personal Identity Verification (PIV) and PIV-Interoperable (PIV-I) systems.

Beyond government applications, the private sector also stands to gain from secure credentialing standards and technologies. The PIV-I card is a non-federally issued credential designed for use by state and regional employees, including first responders. The PIV-I card meets all FIPS 201 standards and is recognized and trusted by the federal government. PIV-I cards can provide states, local jurisdictions, and enterprises a single, interoperable, and secure credential usable across multiple application areas. The result is a more secure infrastructure, and better services for employees, contractors, businesses, and consumers.

This white paper provides an overview of FIPS 201-compliant smart ID cards and shows the significant benefits the technology enables. The paper also shows how to produce PIV-I compliant access cards that contain tamperresistant coatings, radio frequency identification (RFID), and other features using the latest printing technologies.

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RFID Chip-Based Serialization for Retail

Posted March 23, 2012

An alternative to IT solutions for managing item-level tagging

Item-level radio frequency identification (RFID) using standard Electronic Product Codes (EPCs) is rapidly becoming a key factor in improving retail inventory management. The main driver for adoption is quite simple—taking inventory with RFID is 25 times faster than with bar codes. RFID is faster for two reasons. First, it does not require line of sight access to the tag. Second, the person operating the reader does not have to ensure that they only scanned each tag once.

The key difference is that RFID uses radio waves to count large numbers of tags simultaneously, even if a stack of garments covers the tags or if they are inside a box. During the inventory process, readers often scan each tag several times. For this reason, accurate counts are only possible if each tag carries a unique serial number. In addition to rapid counting, serialization enables the tracking and tracing of individual items throughout the product lifecycle—an additional benefit for some product categories.

As major retailers like Walmart, J. C. Penney, and Macy’s roll out item-level RFID, brand owners must find a low-cost, reliable way to implement serialization. Because serialization is new for most apparel suppliers, it has the potential to be disruptive to existing packaging and labeling business processes. Chip-based serialization is a way to avoid disruption by IT projects, constrained supply chains, and extra serialization costs.

Serialization can be regarded as an IT problem that requires an enterprise software solution to allocate and distribute serial numbers, but it doesn’t have to be. Chip-based serialization is a non-IT alternative that preserves sourcing flexibility and uses the existing business process for tagging and ticketing. To help retailers understand serialization, this paper overviews EPC concepts for item-level RFID, reviews IT-based approaches to serialization, and introduces chip-based serialization as an attractive solution.

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Bar Coding and RFID Enable Food Supply Chain Traceability and Safety

Posted March 22, 2012

In the early days of bar coding, an Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) study identified $847 million in savings potentially available by expanding bar coding within the food supply chain. Since then, the U.S. Bioterrorism Act, European Union Food Law, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements mandate improved product identification and traceability. Today, technologies, techniques, and standards exist to help organizations throughout the food supply chain gain complete traceability for safety, compliance, and business process improvement.

Momentum is growing to implement whole-chain traceability, which includes internal and external visibility, from the grower, through the distributor, to the retailer. A key industry effort is the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), which strives to achieve supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability of every case of produce by 2012. Once fully adopted, PTI will improve the effectiveness of current trace-back procedures while enabling common standards for future traceability systems.

This white paper examines how the food industry can take advantage of bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies to improve safety, reduce operating expenses, meet compliance requirements, and improve efficiency. It covers:

  • How bar code and RFID support compliance with regulations such as the Bioterrorism Act , EU Food Law, and The Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749)
  • Traditional uses and advantages of bar code data collection
  • Emerging technologies and standards, including Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) bar codes, Electronic Product Code (EPC) RFID technology, and the GS1 Global Traceability Standard (GS1 DataBar).

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Smart ID Cards for Education

Posted March 21, 2012

Secure the Campus While Providing Essential Services

From universities to primary schools, a revolution in technology is taking shape. The days when mundane tasks such as registration, book purchases, and meal programs required an army of administrators to manage piles of paperwork is but a digital page in today’s history e-books. Twenty-first-century innovation is bringing automation— and a chance to improve security—to the campus.

With education costs skyrocketing, departments at all levels are looking for ways to do more with less—trimming expenses while maximizing staff productivity. Add the looming threats to campus security, and educators must make decisions that balance quality of education with protecting our students. In fact, the 2011 Campus Safety magazine’s “How Safe Is Your Campus?” report revealed that 52 percent of faculty said their institutions fail to dedicate sufficient resources to campus safety and security.

The simple answer relies on the same technology that corporations use—secure smart ID cards. Embedded with “smart” features such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and tamper-resistant laminates, education campuses can realize a wide range of benefits, from tightening security, to streamlining admission, to improving paid services. Read on to find out how you can benefit from smart cards, and learn how your school district can do more with less.

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Tips for RFID Smart Label Printing/Encoding

Posted March 21, 2012

Zebra Technologies introduced the first integrated, on-demand radio frequency identification (RFID) smart label printer/encoder in 2001, and since then we have worked with hundreds of customers around the world who use different RFID protocols, frequencies, inlay designs, and standards. This experience has taught us several best practices that are applicable to any smart label printing operation.

Accurate RFID encoding is critical to every deployment. If the printer/encoder does not perform the tag data and item association correctly, the errors can propagate throughout the entire supply chain. Following the tips described in this white paper can help you get more from your smart label printing system by improving reliability, minimizing operator intervention, reducing wasted labels, preventing encoding and printing errors, and yielding more usable labels per media roll.

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