Tagsys: The RFID Medium is the Message

Tagsys introduced The-Package-Is-The-Tag, a system that incorporates an RFID “kernel” into the packaging itself.

“We believe this is a breakthrough toward moving forward in the item-tagging space,” said Tagsys CEO Elie Simon. “We believe everything will be integrated into the package in the next five years.”

The Tagsys system, designed specifically for item-level tagging, seeks to lower the costs and uncertainties of tagging individual items by separating the tag into two parts.

The AK Tag consists of a small, cheap, universal UHF kernel tag and an adaptive antenna that is customized to the individual package type. The Gen 2 tags measure 12mm by 8mm, and Tagsys expects them to cost from $0.05 to $0.08 when they go into full production in September 2006.

The antenna is printed onto the packaging or label using a metallic ink. The process lets the manufacturer adapt the tags to a wide variety of packaging materials, sizes and shapes.

Tagsys professional services works with the manufacturer to customize the two-part tags for its specific processes, industrial environment, reading distance requirements, and privacy requirements, and the region of use.

Simon said getting the antenna itself ready for printing takes only five to ten days. Designing the system architecture and testing it may take three to six months.

The system provides the benefits touted for all RFID supply chain projects: increasing the ability to authenticate and safeguard goods; enabling real-time
inventory and item tracking; and automating scanning processes.

Simon said his company can deliver the same benefits seen by companies tagging cases or pallets of goods with RFID tags at a comparable cost, while enabling the tagging of individual items.

“A pallet is a pallet, and a case is a case,” he said. “But when we come to the item level, we’re talking about very different form factors. The challenge in item tagging is achieving economy of scale while adapting to multiple form factors, and while delivering the performance required. We believe the business model of item-level tagging is completely different from case-level.”

Competitors have addressed the problem by creating different tags for different kinds of items, Simon said. Tagsys’ approach lets manufacturers buy large quantities of simple kernel tags for use on all items, and then customize the printing of the antenna as part of the regular printing process.

“You get that secondary antenna at an incremental cost, because it comes as a byproduct of the regular printing process,” he said.

Simon believes the system is especially suited to the packaged goods, fashion and apparel, courier and luggage-tracking industries. The approach has been tested on items such as courier envelopes and boxes, luggage tags, item boxes of various shapes and sizes and fashion price tags.

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