Part of my job running The Bar Code News(tm) involves going to trade shows to learn about, and sometimes play with, cool technology. As a tech geek, playing with technology is how I get my kicks. Last month, at RFIDLive! in Orlando, I was meandering along the aisles, trying not to do any work at all, and saw a device that was, seemingly, incongruous with the rows and rows of RFID tags, readers, antennas and other apparatus. My gut response was first, what the heck?, and then, secondarily, I have to try that! Luckily, the booth staff was kind enough to humor me and powered up their air compressor and away we went.
The device is a pneumatic tool that lets users quickly implant an RFID tag in a log, or bundle of lumber or any similar material. The inventors, Dr. Rajkiran Tiwari and Dr. Pamela S Tucker, were there to demonstrate and explain the SUNDOG® RFID tag, a new UHF RFID tag that is designed specifically for rough wood surfaces.
Utility Composites, Inc. is known for their expertise and high quality in composite fasteners. They have been manufacturing and marketing non-metal fasteners that are used in several markets including timber and lumber. The timber industry has been poised to adopt UHF RFID technology for inventory management, but the use of standard RFID tags attached to logs traveling down the highway in extreme weather conditions was not feasible. Before SUNDOG®, RFID tags were expensive and time consuming to screw into the wood or the tags were too fragile to withstand the demanding conditions of the timber industry.
The SUNDOG® RFID tag is in the form of a staple which is collated into a strip of staple tags each containing a UHF RFID chip and antenna. They are collated in a strip for loading into a magazine of a manual or pneumatic stapler. Once loaded, installation of SUNDOG® tags into the wood surface is fast and easy, just like using a normal industrial stapler. SUNDOG® RFID tags are rugged enough to withstand extreme variations in climate as well as kiln drying and vat cooking operations typical in timber and veneer processing with no negative effect on the readability of the tag. Readability and range are maintained upon completion of these harsh processes.
SUNDOG® RFID tags have excellent read range and read angle. The antenna sticks out away from the surface which reduces reading problems with high moisture content of freshly harvested logs and provides a higher read angle. For handheld readings in the x, y and z direction, the range varies from 8 – 11.3 meters using a circular polarized interrogator antenna and from 6 – 8.3 meters using a linear polarized interrogator antenna.
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