The convergence of RFID and consumer electronics manufacturing gives brand owners and supply chain partners new methods to more easily configure, update, secure and authenticate products.
Collecting product data wirelessly with RFID is simple, especially compared to optically scanning barcodes printed directly on circuit boards. Plus, barcode data can’t be updated, as RFID data can. But those are just two of many advantages. Embedded RFID adds new capabilities and flexibility during manufacturing, within the supply chain and even in the after sales process.
Specific capabilities include updating firmware or configuring commercial derivatives, even after initial production. The production date, firmware and die reel numbers can be stored directly on an RFID tag and captured wirelessly. Once a product is sold, its repair history can be stored on the RFID chip, meaning supply chain partners can access it without disassembling the product.
RFID-enabled electronics are smart electronics, with security features built in. Previously, it was difficult to ensure that CE products were sold through authorized sales channels - or even if the product was counterfeit. It was also hard to know whether the warranty time had expired. RFID technology allows brand owners and retailers to authenticate the sales process and associate electronic warranty and repair records directly with each product, offering more complete and secure traceability than barcodes.
Some brand owners and retailers may like to deactivate the RFID chip once a product has been sold. GS1 EPC global specifies a command that can permanently turn off the RFID chip. NXP supports this concept and has built it into its UCODE EPC compliant chips.
Legacy electronic article surveillance (EAS) gates allow retailers to know when products are stolen. Because EAS tags do not uniquely identify products, retailers have no means of automatically updating inventory levels. This leaves them with two problems: shrinkage and inaccurate records.
RFID-enabled EAS gates significantly enhance the system. At the point of purchase, the embedded chip is changed to show it has been purchased. If an RFID-enabled product is brought through an RFID EAS gate prior to being purchased, the reader inside the gate detects this and triggers an alarm. It also reads the RFID chip, identifying exactly which items were taken and automatically updating inventory systems, helping ensure that shelves remained adequately stocked.
Plus, embedded RFID tags, unlike conventional EAS tags, are inaccessible to thieves and can’t be removed from a product.
NXP's product portfolio is the perfect fit for electronics
UCODE passive UHF transponder ICs offer high anti-collision rates and long operating distances, and can help protect your brand. Ideal for supply chain management and logistics applications requiring high speed, long range operation.