Washable RFID Tags
Commercial Launderers and Dry Cleaners present specific challenges when implementing RFID tracking solutions for Garments/Linen.
Evolution of RFID Transponder technology to ones suitable for Washing Applications
Standard RFID Transponders (Chips) were designed for warehouse and logistics applications typically used to scan static boxes on warehouse racking. They work wonderfully if you have static pieces evenly spaced out across a warehouse. However they were never meant to be used in the harsh moving environments typically encountered in a Laundry setting. RFID Transponder manufacturers such as ThermoTex went back to the drawing board to design specific transponders to suit washing and ironing applications.
Transponders that can handle repeated Washing!
This led to the establishment of the F1 and F2 standard transponders currently in use today. These chips can handle repeated washing (usually tested for over 200 cycles), high pressure water extraction as well as sustained heat and pressure resitance which is a prerequisite when irnonig using a Calander. Specialised chip antennae arrays as well as heat applied adhesives complete the suitability of these transponders.
Add to this RFID’s technology’s specific requirements, careful consideration needs to be utilised to get the best from RFID tracking. The two prevalent systems are HF (High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency).
High Frequency Systems
HF has a reading distance, for Laundry Processing of 300-500mm. It is suitable for single item or small bundle (Less than 20 pieces) scanning. HF has a distinct advantage over UHF in that it can be read even if the item is damp or even wet.
Ultra High Frequency Systems
UHF has a reading distance, for Laundry Processing, of up to 3 metres. As it has a faster read rate than HF, around 50 items per second, it is more suitable for bulk scanning. Entire cage trolleys with 250 items can be scanned within 5 Seconds. Manual counting can take up to twenty minutes and is prone to human error in correctly counting and/or identifying the type of items returned.
How RFID Technology allows for Inventory Tracking
An area of difficulty for most laundries is to check that their customers are returning all of the soiled linen. With UHF Technology, this is achieved at the entrance to the Laundry, usually through a RFID Gate or Cabinet. Gates/Cabinets are sized so that full cage trolleys can be rolled through/in as part of the Driver’s offload duties. The Transponders (often called Chips) are automatically scanned and the relevant information transferred to a Laundry Management Software solution (LMS).
When using HF technology, antenna are normally placed on conveyors or suitable alternate sorting areas. As items are offloaded onto the conveyor/sorting table, they are automatically scanned in. UHF Technology can also be used in this instance but careful adjustment of the Antenna’s read range and profile is required to avoid inadvertently scanning items nearby.
For further information about how TEX-ID can help you, please call us now on 020 8749 6610