Platinum Metal Skin Creates News Opportunity

DSC03838With the expansion of RFID’s use within retail, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and other applications has come an increasing demand to put RFID tags on more challenging items.

Containers that contain liquids or metals, curved surfaces, pharmaceutical and cosmetic containers, IT assets and other items have proven challenging because of surface materials, shape and size, and because it was historically difficult to get consistent tag reads near liquids and metal. Xerafy developed its Metal Skin line of RFID labels to address those challenges, and earlier this year we unveiled the Platinum Metal Skin smart label to offer a new form factor for these emerging applications.

The Platinum Metal Skin UHF RFID smart label provides a flexible, high-performance solution for extending RFID into product categories like housewares, cosmetics, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, electronic equipment, and items in foil-based packages in a cost-effective manner.

The Platinum labels can be printed and encoded using standard RFID printers, and can be quickly applied on multiple types of surface. Along with the label’s slim form factor (58mm by 19mm), this makes the new labels perfect for retail applications where cost, convenience, and label space are primary concerns. Continue reading

Stay Attached to Your Asset Tracking Solution

worker-in-plantIndustrial asset tracking initiatives have benefited from the introduction of RFID tags that are small and light enough to be attached to tools and other assets in such a way that they don’t impede performance of the asset or significantly change its size, shape or weight.

However, the smallest and most durable tags are not particularly useful if they don’t stay firmly and securely attached to the asset — even when the asset is exposed to harsh environments, chemicals, or high temperatures. Tag attachment is a critical, but often overlooked, component of the design of an RFID solution. Without the proper attention, attachment issues can sink an RFID project.

The more high-profile RFID deployments tend to be in logistics or retail applications, where the tags are not necessarily exposed to the same type of wear and tear found in an industrial setting. Price and read range are often key concerns in those environments, and tag attachment is often an afterthought.

In many of the markets we serve, tags are exposed to high impact and caustic chemicals (as in the oil and gas applications). In others, chemicals and cleaners, combined with high heat, can erode adhesives (as is the case in healthcare, where tagged instruments are sterilized throughout the life of the instruments). The adhesive or epoxy has to match the use case and the material on which the tag is adhered. For applications where tags are exposed to extremely high or low temperatures, impact, humidity, pressure, and other conditions, the durability, reliability, and performance of the tag can be compromised. Continue reading

Air Force Fire Reminds Us that Tiny Parts Play Big Safety Role

6990918855_de0fa1db70_bIf you ever needed more evidence that tracking and maintaining even the smallest parts in an aircraft is critical, you need look no further than the multi-million dollar fire that erupted on an Air Force reconnaissance plane back in April.

The plane was taking off for a training exercise in Nebraska when it skidded to a stop and then burst into flames. Thankfully, the 27 airmen on the plane all made it off safely. As it turns out, the culprit was a defense contracting company, L-3 Communications, that failed to tighten a nut.

According to the Aug. 3 report from U.S. Air Force investigators: “Failure by L-3 Communications depot maintenance personnel to tighten a retaining nut connecting a metal oxygen tube to a junction fitting above the galley properly caused an oxygen leak. This leak created a highly flammable oxygen-rich environment that ignited.”

The fire caused $62.4 million in damage to the RC-135V aircraft. You can read more about the incident on CNN, or if you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can read the full Air Force report here. Continue reading

RFID Improves Patient Safety and Work Flow Efficiency in the Operating Room

Chirurgen operieren in OP-Saal an PatientenOperating rooms and surgical centers can be hectic environments, with multiple patients entering and leaving for different types of procedures, conducted by different surgical teams. Every procedure requires a fresh, complete, and fully sterilized set of surgical instruments specific to that operation.

Surgical kits are assembled in advance of each procedure, matched to the patient, and then counted before and after the operation. This is to ensure that the doctors have everything they need before they begin, and to make sure that no instruments go missing after the procedure. All instruments have to be accounted for to ensure patient safety — many doctors have accidentally left surgical tools inside their patients.

But because of human error, 100 percent accurate instrument counting can be difficult to achieve. Many factors can compromise accuracy, including inaccurate instrument lists; personnel may not be familiar with the instruments; or staff may be rushed because of a packed surgical schedule. The time necessary for a staffer to hand count instruments adversely affects room turn-over time, thereby increasing costs. Continue reading

RFID Reduces Total Cost of Ownership for Missing Tools

Builder WomanThe cost of a missing tool goes far beyond the actual price a company pays for the particular tool. Wasted labor hours are lost searching for the tool or finding a replacement. Machine downtime may be extended during that search. Deadlines might be missed because of that downtime. For manufacturers, this can result in an asset tracking “Butterfly Effect” in which the cost of the lost tool is compounded the further along the production chain you get.

That’s where RFID comes in. Rugged, on-metal RFID tags can help companies accurately track each tool’s location, who used it last, and where it was last checked-in or checked-out of a tool crib. Automating tool tracking can eliminate these losses, help companies avoid purchasing extra tools, provide a check on calibration processes, and reduce total cost of ownership.

When these automation systems are integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and project management solutions, the benefits are even greater. Using a particular tool is typically associated with a process step in manufacturing, so work-in-process and tool inventories can be tracked and coordinated. Continue reading