As companies become increasingly aware of the liabilities and frustrations inheren in manually affixing RFID labels, commonly called “slap and ship,” they are investigating a transition to automated RFID tagging. RFID “slap and ship” scenarios are generally recognized as an added cost process while automated tagging opens the door to reducing
cost and adding value. However, since they are two very different processes, transitioning to automated RFID tagging requires specific considerations.
The first step is to review the current, non-RFID labeling operation. If an automated, print-apply labeling solution is already in place, the key decision is whether to modify the existing label to include the RFID inlay or leave the existing application and label as is and, instead, add a dedicated RFID-based print-apply system to encode, print and apply a small RFID label where and when needed.
It may be necessary to add a second label for RFID if “real-estate” is a concern since the RFID label will likely be larger than the current, non-RFID label and may not fit the designated area. If the product itself is “RFID-unfriendly,” the RFID label may require a secondary location.
If an automated, print-apply labeling system is not currently being utilized, then the RFID label can be just large enough to contain the RFID inlay and allow room for human readable and/or barcode information as a backup in case the RFID inlay becomes damaged and unreadable. Alternatively, process improvement can be considered where technologies such as ink jet or pre-printed barcodes can be eliminated and the information can be combined into one RFID label.