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WP - RFID - NEW:Layout 1 WP - RFID - NEW:Layout 1 Document Transcript

  • white paper Contents 2 Abstract 3 RFID Changing Output Requirements 4 About RFID 6 RFID Applications Solving the New Technology Requirements for RFID 9 Challenges with Existing Solutions Business Applications: How Laser Printing Technologies are Adding Value 10 Benefits of Laser RFID Printing To an Evolving Business Landscape 13 Future of RFID Technology 14 Concluding Summary 15 About Lexmark
  • Abstract: white paper Solving the New Technology Requirements for RFID Business Applications: How Laser Printing Technologies are Adding Value To an Evolving Business Landscape Fortune 500 businesses across many different industries are now looking to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to transform the way they conduct business. From streamlining supply chain operations, patient safety, improving production and preventing counterfeiting, to tracking and managing documents, RFID is changing the business landscape in many ways. RFID technology brings a “historical” shift to the business workplace. The ability for RFID to optimize individual transactions, track documents and shipping items, improve workflows, and eliminate “dark transaction areas” will bring dramatic improvements to every corner of the business landscape. The widespread adoption of RFID in both consumer and business markets will drive greater business volumes which will lead to price reductions and allow businesses to fulfill customer needs as never before. This white paper from Lexmark International is intended to help today’s business executives better understand the dynamically changing nature of RFID solutions, and how laser printing technologies are quickly becoming a requirement for enterprise businesses to meet their productivity and efficiency goals as they adopt RFID into their business operations. 2
  • The Changing Output Requirements of RFID-Enabled white paper Business Environments Fortune 500 businesses across many different industries are now looking to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to transform the way they conduct business. From streamlining supply chain operations, patient safety, improving production and preventing counterfeiting, to tracking and managing documents, RFID is changing the business landscape in many ways. For example, Wal-Mart has mandated that its top 100 suppliers implement RFID tagging and tracking for all products shipped to the retailer. This innovation not only has changed retail supply chain and product distribution procedures, but also global acceptance of RFID. With RFID, warehousing inventory levels have been dramatically reduced, moving instead to a significantly improved model where goods are immediately shipped from manufacturing to Wal-Mart distribution centers and then to the retail level. The RFID growth trend is expected to The media has reported many benefits from these new working relationships continue. Industry experts indicate that that will dramatically increase RFID adoption across multiple industries. By the market is projected to grow at a increasing the adoption rate, the cost of entry will dramatically decrease, making it possible for many smaller companies to afford RFID technology and compound annual rate of nearly 20% adopt it for their own business operations. over the next six years. By 2015, the RFID market will be valued at approximately $26 billion. 3
  • The RFID growth trend is expected to continue. Industry experts indicate that the white paper market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 20% over the next six years. By 2015, the RFID market will be valued at approximately $26 billion.1 The Role of Printing in an RFID-Enabled World The printing function is a critical part of the RFID process. As businesses implement RFID technology, their printing and output needs immediately change as well. Many of the labels, forms, and documents used to track shipments in a multi-tiered supply chain require printers that can output forms with an embedded RFID tag that has been encoded with manufacturer, product and serial number. Before RFID, the printing process in a distribution center or shipping warehouse consisted of using several printers for different types of forms and documents. For example, RFID tags were printed on a dedicated thermal printer that was used to print simple barcode and shipping labels. Dot matrix printers were used to print bills of lading, packing slips, or manifests. But with new technology, the number, size, and type of forms have changed; many companies are now realizing that their first-generation printing solutions are no longer a viable solution to meet their As the number, size, and type of forms current needs. In an effort to control costs and more carefully manage both time have changed as a result of RFID and resources, RFID-enabled businesses are looking for solutions that can implementations, many companies are consolidate the work of multiple printers into a single output device. now realizing that their conventional printing solutions are no longer able to In the 1980s, laser printing technology dramatically changed office productivity by bringing high resolution graphic capabilities such as desktop publishing and design, meet their needs. tasks previously reserved for specialty outsourced providers, to the desktop. This same technology is now bringing new areas of efficiency, productivity, and cost reduction to the RFID solution arena. Laser printers can not only handle the multiple document requirements of supply chain operations, but can also perform RFID tag encoding and print forms with a high-resolution corporate logo or graphic image all within one device. This level of efficiency means that a single printing device can now perform the same duties that previously required several printers. About RFID RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. The acronym refers to a small electronic device that consists of an integrated chip and an antenna; one example is as shown below in Figure 2. 1Source: Information Week, December 11, 2006, “2007 to See More RFID Adoption” Figure 2 4
  • An RFID tag serves a similar purpose as a bar code on a product package, or a white paper magnetic strip on the back of a credit or ATM card: it provides a unique identifier for that object. Just as a bar code or magnetic strip must be scanned to get information, an RFID tag must also be scanned to retrieve the identifying information on the box or item to which it is attached. One significant advantage of RFID tags over bar codes is RFID tags do not require line of sight to be read and do not require manual scanning. Unlike store checkout scanners that require a barcode be swiped directly across the top of a scanner, or a credit/ATM card that must be swiped through a special reader, an RFID-enabled device uses passive RFID tags that can be read from up to 30 feet away by simply walking past a scanner. Another important advantage is that RFID tags do not need be read individually. For example, if a grocery store used RFID tags on all its products, shoppers could put their groceries in a bag, set the bag on the scanner, and the RFID scanner could query all the RFID tags simultaneously, immediately total the purchase, and provide a list of all the items in the bag. One significant advantage of RFID tags How RFID Works over bar codes is RFID tags do not A Radio-Frequency Identification system (RFID) has three component parts: require line of sight to be read and do • A transponder - the RFID tag - that has been programmed with not require manual scanning. information • A reader or interrogator which is connected to an antenna that sends and receives the information • A Data System such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) When an RFID tag passes through an electromagnetic field, the tag is powered on and transmits its information to the interrogator. The information is automatically sent into the Data System. 5
  • RFID tags may be of one of two types: active or passive. Active RFID tags have white paper their own power source. The advantage of active tags is that they act like beacons, broadcasting their information. The reader can be much farther away and still pick up the signal. However, these devices have limited life spans (though some are built to have up to a 10-year life). They are also very expensive. Passive RFID tags do not have batteries, can be much smaller, and have a virtually unlimited life span. They also cost substantially less to manufacture and can be reprogrammed. The majority of the RFID tags in use today are of the passive variety. Active RFID tag technology is still evolving and its widespread availability is expected to increase over the next several years. RFID Advantages There are a variety of circumstances in which RFID tags can be easily read where line of sight is not available. Barcodes or other optically-read technologies under these circumstances would be useless. The advantages of RFID tags in these situations include: • Embedded Tagging - The tag need not be on the surface of the object Large numbers of tags can be read (with the added benefit that the tag is therefore not subject to wear). at once rather than item by item, • Rapid Scanning - The read time is typically less than 100 milliseconds. making this technology highly • Group Scanning - Large numbers of tags can be read at once rather suitable for shipping, warehouse or than item by item, making this technology highly suitable for shipping, warehouse or manufacturing operations. manufacturing operations. • Varied Environments - Tags can be read under water. 6
  • RFID Applications in Business and Industry white paper As RFID technology continues to evolve, the application of the technology is enabling entirely new ways of conducting business. The examples below show how RFID is being implemented in a variety of industries and demonstrates the widespread use of the technology. In each instance, different types and sizes of RFID-tagged forms are being employed. RFID Application Examples: • Shipping & Tracking – RFID technology has replaced the traditional warehouse by turning trucks into rolling warehouses. Replacement products at the manufacturing level are shipped directly to the retailer. When the goods arrive, an entire palette of products can be immediately scanned as it is unloaded from the trailer using RFID technology. In a matter of seconds, each item’s manufacturer, product and serial number are sent to the retailer’s inventory system along with the item's location and time of delivery. If an RFID-enabled document is • Manufacturing – Automotive parts in a production line are RFID-tagged reported missing, a complete history and scanned as they pass by strategically-placed RFID interrogators on of all its users can be recalled along the production line. These scanners can identify the stage of the work in with dates and all the locations process (WIP) very quickly, report any problems, and tell if the process is where the document has been. on schedule. The part numbers are also tracked to ensure “just-in-time” production efficiencies from the part vendors in the supply chain. With this real-time information the parts suppliers can tailor their shipments to meet the automobile manufacturer’s production goals. • Document Tracking – Critical documents such as medical, legal, or classified government information can be embedded with an RFID tag so the document can be tracked every time it is moved. If the document passes through an RFID portal, the person will be prompted for identification, such as the user’s name and ID, which is recorded. When a building is equipped with interrogators, the document’s location can be tracked. If an RFID-enabled document is reported missing, a complete history of all its users can be recalled along with specific dates and all the locations where the document has been. • Part Usage History – The sale of heavy assets (such as construction equipment) with re-manufactured parts is a less expensive alternative to acquiring new equipment. The parts used in remanufactured assets can be affixed with RFID tags, enabling their complete history to be tracked. 7
  • Each time work is performed on a remanufactured part, a record is made white paper of the location and maintenance date. This information can be used to monitor the life cycle of the part, and can help determine when it might be time to replace it. • Hospital Patient Tracking – An RFID-enabled wristband for incoming hospital patients can contain personal information, medical history and prescribed medications, information which can be accessible and used throughout the patient's stay in the facility. Such patient monitoring and tracking ensures that the patient is sent to the correct operating or recovery room, and that the appropriate medications and treatments are being administered. As a result, the number of deaths and injuries due to mistaken IDs are minimized, with the added benefit of fewer malpractice suits and lower costs for the hospital. • Inventory Management – In many industries, the process of taking inventory can be challenging, especially if gaining access to the asset is difficult. RFID tagging will greatly improve the process of taking inventory. The employee will simply walk through the inventory area with a handheld RFID scanner that reads the serial numbers being broadcast by the RFID tags on the inventoried items. With RFID, the process of taking inventory takes a fraction of the time it used to require using conventional methods and is considerably more accurate. • Product Recalls – RFID technology provides manufacturers and retailers with highly detailed product information such as the specific manufacturing plant where a product was produced, the lot number, item number, color, flavor, size, model, version, etc. When a product recall is announced, the RFID information can facilitate the tracking and specific identification of the remaining products on the retail shelves. Rather than pulling all of the manufacturers’ products off the shelf, RFID not only speeds up the process of removing the affected items from the distribution channel, but also allows retailers to safely continue selling non-recalled versions of the manufacturer’s products that remain in their inventory. • Theft – Consumers buying a product from a retailer at a discount and returning it to another retailer for a higher price can mean a loss of millions of dollars for retailers. If the product is properly tagged, the retailer will be able to tell if the return was originally purchased from their store and for how much. RFID will be a significant step toward eliminating this problem. 8
  • These are just a few examples that demonstrate the broad application of RFID white paper and how widespread the use of the technology has become. As RFID technology flourishes and expands into entirely new areas, businesses need to evolve their output strategies to keep pace. In order to gain efficiencies and lower operational costs, corporations investing in RFID must also reassess their printing solutions. In each of the examples cited, there are different types of forms, labels, stickers, packing slips, manifests, and documents that must be printed. Given the range of printing requirements associated with RFID document output, traditional printing technologies cannot provide the capability or flexibility to handle the scope of these printing demands effectively or efficiently. The Challenges with Existing RFID Printing Solutions The output generated in an RFID-enabled environment has to date been printed on a thermal printer. This type of printer has several disadvantages when it comes to printing all the documents, labels, and forms required to run a The high cost and intangible ROI business that has invested in this technology. These issues include: cycle associated with deploying • Limited Flexibility – A high volume shipping department where each multiple thermal printers increases box or container must have a packing slip, and/or an RFID-encoded the overall cost of doing business. shipping label and/or other forms such as bills of lading or manifests, requires sophisticated printing functions that a thermal printer can’t easily handle. The thermal printer is a single use device and does a great job printing an RFID label this way, but will have a difficult time with other documents. The high cost and intangible ROI cycle associated with deploying multiple thermal printers around the production area increases the overall cost of doing business. • Higher Maintenance Costs – In a large operation such as a distribution center that has many printers designated for individual printing tasks, there is a corresponding cost associated with maintaining the printers. These costs include the procurement of supplies as well as service contracts for the required regular maintenance schedules. Because each printer has a singular focus, such as printing a packing slip, if any of the printers go down, the entire production process comes to a halt until the printer can be repaired or replaced. This “down time” adds cost; and the resulting dip in productivity can add up to significant losses. 9
  • • Difficulty with Wide Formats – Thermal printers were originally white paper designed to print on small formats such as shipping labels and pick tickets. For larger-size documents, such as 8.5 x 11 or 8 x 14 inch output, thermal media would be cost prohibitive. The thermal printer is dedicated to a single printing task, and is unable to work with multiple forms without the time-consuming manual process of changing the media. • Proprietary Data Streams – Some thermal printers may use complex proprietary printing languages that make the integration of enterprise business information from an ERP system or database difficult and time consuming. When business needs change and warrant the integration of new information on the media, the task of modifying the proprietary printing languages may result in long development cycles and disruptions in business processes. In many instances, the unique data stream may have been developed several years ago and the programmer who originally wrote the code may have left the company or be otherwise Just as in the past laser printers unavailable to perform the required updates or modifications. became the solution for similar • Output Quality – Since thermal printers may print in lower resolutions, process and productivity problems 203-305 dpi (dots per inch), this lower quality output can cause in the office arena, they now have problems when it comes to reading bar codes. If there is a problem with come to the rescue again to the print head, the bar codes can also be unreadable. Logos or other streamline RFID-enabled graphic designs can be hard to read using low dpi. In addition, since thermal transfer printers use ribbons to transfer the image to the label, environments in industries that are the labels they create can possibly wear poorly and may be vulnerable to incorporating RFID technology. smearing and distortion when exposed to inclement weather or to the wear and tear of the shipping and delivery cycle. Direct thermal labels may also fade when exposed to ultra violet rays and/or heat. These limitations point to the need for a new printing solution to support RFID environments. Just as in the past laser printers became the solution for similar process and productivity problems in the office arena, laser printers now have come to the rescue again to streamline RFID-enabled environments in industries that are incorporating RFID technology. 10
  • The Benefits of Laser Printing in an RFID-Enabled Environment white paper The benefits of laser printers — higher productivity, device consolidation, forms management, better print quality, lower costs, and networking capabilities — are now being applied to the RFID-enabled business environment. The specific benefits that RFID-supported laser printing delivers to today’s businesses include: • Device Consolidation – With the built-in features of network capability and multiple output trays, laser printers in an RFID-enabled environment allow several work areas to share one single printer. For example, in a warehouse operation with several shipping lanes, multiple employees can share a common printer for all their form and label needs. Conducting all tasks using one printer leads to fewer maintenance contracts, lower maintenance and supply costs, and a higher ROI. • Forms Management – With the multiple input trays available on a laser printer, one device can accommodate several types of forms, labels, and RFID tag embedded media. Lexmark offers a laser printer that has a built- in RFID tag encoder which can encode shipping information onto the With multiple input trays, one laser Lexmark RFID tags as part of the printing process. With this new device can accommodate 8.5” x 11”, capability, a laser RFID printer can program, verify and print embedded RFID media, as well as all the other documents required to ship a product. or 8.5” x 14” documents, and RFID- (See printer Figure 4 below.) This makes the laser a true multi-use printer. ready forms. Figure 4 - Lexmark T640rn Laser Printer with an Integrated RFID Encoder 11
  • • Ease of Use – Lexmark’s electronic forms package can design and store white paper various form layouts in the printer. This allows businesses to make design changes to forms that are stored online, for example, modifying a field on a packing slip or including a corporate logo on a shipping label. The software can also work with a variety of label and document sizes from small to legal size, easily accommodating multiple bar codes and RFID-tagged media. • Standard Printer Languages – Rather than work with a proprietary printer language that is hard to modify and integrate, most laser printers work with standard printer languages such as PCL, PostScript™ or plain ASCII that allow easy data integration with enterprise applications, databases, and business information. Using the standard printer languages allows Lexmark's forms software to easily modify and design new forms that are then mapped to the data stream. These new forms can be stored on the printer or a server. • Superior Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) – With a 20-year Lasers provide the most viable, history of printer engine advancements and design, laser printers have efficient and cost-effective manner demonstrated a proven ability to meet the challenge of high volume output with a minimum of problems. This makes laser printers highly possible of using a multi-use printer suitable for the rigorous printing demands of a high volume distribution within an RFID-enabled enterprise. center or manufacturing production line without risking a significant amount of downtime. • Forms Consolidation – Using Lexmark’s forms package, it is easy and very cost effective to print a shipping label and a packing list on an integrated label form. This eliminates the ordering and storing of pre- printed forms. • Better Graphics Capabilities - Most laser printers today work at 1200 dpi, which is superior output quality over the 305 dpi of a thermal printer. This provides a higher quality form or label that improves bar code readability. If a corporate logo or graphic image needs to be included on the form or label, the higher resolution also projects a more professional brand image. • Media – Not only can a Lexmark laser printer print and program the RFID media, but it is flexible enough to print on several different types of media. The printer can print on paper, vinyl labels and carbonless paper, as well as on many other types of media. 12
  • These considerable benefits demonstrate why laser printers are having such a white paper significant impact in supporting and streamlining RFID technology in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. As the proliferation of RFID deployments grow, the addition of laser printers enables businesses to accomplish all their printing needs, including the encoding of RFID media. Lasers provide the most viable, efficient and cost-effective manner possible of using a multi-use printer within an RFID-enabled enterprise. A Look into the Future of RFID Technology As RFID continues to evolve and flourish across many industries, laser printing technology will continue to play an important role by increasing workgroup productivity and driving down the operating costs associated with RFID technology. But where is the technology going and what does the future of RFID look like? There are three dynamics taking place in the RFID Industry that will reshape how the technology will be used that in turn will lead to greater adoption of the technology: size reductions, lower costs, and innovative applications. The cost of an RFID tag has dropped Size Reductions RFID readers are being reduced by considerable margins. Key manufacturers from over $1.00 less than 12 months such as Intel Corporation® are announcing chipset size reductions of 90%. ago to under $0.15 today. These reductions will have a dramatic impact on the cost and the future design of tags and readers. These innovations translate into wider adoption and a greater number of RFID applications around the world. Lower Costs As more companies adopt RFID technology, additional tag manufacturers will appear on the scene that will ultimately drive increased competition and drastically decrease the cost of tags. For example, the cost of an RFID tag has dropped from over $1.00 less than one year ago to under $.15 today. As the cost of RFID tags (and their consumables) rapidly decline, the implementation of RFID becomes more cost effective. As another example, RFID interrogators that used to cost approximately $2000 are now available in the $700 range. Innovative Applications As the printing and encoding of RFID tags improves and the per unit price drops, new uses for RFID will be developed. One example is called a “Smart Shelf”, which is the nickname for a designated retail merchandising area that has been entirely enabled for RFID. The Smart Shelf would incorporate one reader and several interrogators. The reader could read the tags of any product on the 13
  • merchandise shelf. When an item is lifted off the shelf, this information is recorded white paper and allows the clerk to see there is a missing item that needs replenished. This will greatly reduce the number of out-of stock issues and increase overall sales. Concluding Summary RFID technology brings a “historical” shift to the business workplace. The ability for RFID to optimize individual transactions, track documents and shipping items, and improve workflows will bring dramatic improvements to every corner of the business landscape. The widespread adoption of RFID in both consumer and business markets will drive greater business volumes which will lead to price reductions and allow businesses to fulfill customer needs as never before. Unfortunately, conventional printing technologies that are supporting existing RFID implementations have held businesses back from fully realizing the fulfillment of the technology. RFID laser printing brings the same level of revolutionary change to the RFID arena that conventional laser printers brought to the office RFID laser printing technology brings environment in the 1980s. As a greater number of RFID tags find their way into manufacturing, retail or other industry environments, RFID-enabled laser printers the same level of revolutionary will be essential in facilitating the productivity vision of RFID in the workplace. change to the RFID arena that conventional laser printers brought to In addition, with new levels of ease-of-use, more productive capabilities, and the office environment in the 1980s. smoother workflow processes, RFID laser printing will make the integration of RFID technology into the business workplace much more viable. As RFID- supported laser printing becomes more pervasive across the enterprise, the technology will be an essential element in propelling RFID solutions forward. Incorporating laser printing technology into the RFID process further enables the fulfillment of RFID, by providing the following benefits: • Improved Efficiencies – A single laser printer can reduce the number of devices and forms required to produce business documentation. With multiple-use drawers that can house a variety of forms, labels and documents, both manufacturers and retailers will be able to accomplish all of their tagging, labeling, and forms management from one printing device. • Greater Capabilities – RFID laser printing means businesses can make design changes to an existing packing slip or manifest both quickly and easily without incurring any disruption to the sales, manufacturing, or distribution process. In addition, the high resolution capability associated with laser technology generates more professional-looking RFID documents across a wider variety of business applications. 14
  • • Device Consolidation – Consolidation enables a greater variety of RFID white paper printing tasks to be accomplished on fewer devices, thereby allowing a greater number of users to have access to the device to fulfill all their form, label, document printing, and RFID tag encoding needs. • Lower Cost of Operation – RFID laser printing provides lower acquisition, supplies, materials, and maintenance costs, lowering the total cost of business operations. For more information about Lexmark’s RFID solution, log onto www.lexmark.com/RFID or contact Rick Kallop, Lexmark RFID + Certified Industry Consultant at rkallop@lexmark.com. 15
  • About Lexmark white paper Lexmark International, Inc. (NYSE: LXK) makes it easier for businesses and consumers to move information between the digital and paper worlds. Since its inception in 1991, Lexmark has become a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of printing and imaging solutions for customers in more than 150 countries. Lexmark's enterprise sales force is organized into industry-specific vertical teams that identify the unique challenges of each major industry in terms of output and workflow processes. Our solutions and customer-focused approach is what makes us different in the market, but our award-winning products are at the heart of our business. Lexmark is the only printer manufacturer that internally develops and owns all three core print technologies in the market. We pride ourselves on understanding our customer's specific needs and developing innovative solutions to meet those needs. Lexmark’s state-of-the-art RFID T640rn laser printer is the only laser based printing technology on the market today. The Lexmark T640rn is a networked monochrome laser printer that can print and program RFID tags embedded within electronic forms and that can be customized with Lexmark's Document Solutions Suite (LDSS) to simplify business processes. The T640rn can print up to 8.5-by-14-inch paper at resolutions of up to 1200 by 1200 dots per inch and encode RFID tags. For more information on the T640rn laser printer for RFID applications, as well as other Lexmark printing solutions, please visit our website at www.lexmark.comRFID. Lexmark reserves the right to change specifications or other product information without notice. References in this publication to Lexmark products or services do not imply that Lexmark intends to make them available in all countries in which Lexmark operates. LEXMARK PROVIDES THIS PUBLICATION "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. This publication may contain third party information or links to third party sites that are not under the control of or maintained by Lexmark. Access to any such third party information or site is at the user's own risk and Lexmark is not responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information, data, opinions, advice or statements made by these third parties. Lexmark provides this information and links merely as a convenience and the inclusion of such information and/or links does not imply an endorsement. All performance information was determined in a controlled environment. Actual results may vary. Performance information is provided "AS IS" and no warranties or guarantees are expressed or implied by Lexmark. Buyers should consult other sources of information, 71k2403 including benchmark data, to evaluate the performance of a solution they are considering buying. 16