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Cascading RFID Tags

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000021112D
Publication Date: 2003-Dec-23

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Jeffrey D. Lindsay: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

RFID chips can be employed at multiple hierarchical levels in an integrated supply chain model to convey redundant information for error detection and security purposes. The use of "cascading" or nested sets of RFID tags can provide a number of practical advantages to business integrating RFID technology in the supply chain.

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Cascading RFID Tags

Jeffrey D. Lindsay and Walter Reade

Nov. 7, 2003

Abstract

RFID chips can be employed at multiple hierarchical levels in an integrated supply chain model to convey redundant information for error detection and security purposes. The use of “cascading” or nested sets of RFID tags can provide a number of practical advantages to business integrating RFID technology in the supply chain.

Introduction

A revolution in supply chain management may be achieved through the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology or smart tags. RFID technology refers to passive or active smart tags (miniature antennae-containing tags requiring no internal power supply) that can be embedded in or attached to a product or material to convey information that can be read by a scanner. In general, RFID systems consist of readers and tags in which the tags generate an electromagnetic response to an electronic signal from a reader. The response signal can be read by the reader, typically with a readable range on the order of a few feet, though broader or narrower ranges are possible. The signal generated by the smart tag can contain information (an electronic product code) that identifies the tag or the article including the tag. Using protocols, standards, and systems being implemented at MIT’s Auto-ID Center and elsewhere, many corporations are working to implement RFID to improve the tracking of goods in the supply chain and to improve inventory handling, reduce out-of-stock events, and reduce the time required to provide goods to the customer.

In pilot trials done by Gillette and Wal-Mart, several problems in implementing RFID technology have been encountered. In a warehouse or distribution center, some tags fail to be read by scanners due to shielding of radio signals resulting from radio frequency (RF) blocking materials (e.g., metal and liquids), interference between multiple tags, nodes in the distribution of emitted radio signals, distance between tags and scanners, and other factors. For example, in a pallet with multiple stacked cases of product, products in the center may not be read easily, while those on the outer portions of the pallet may be readily detected by scanners. Failure to scan and read all products in a case, on a pallet, in a truck, or in a warehouse can result in inefficiencies and loss. An improved system is needed to ensure that products are detected even when there is RF shielding or other problems that cause some tags in a group of products not to be read.

Cascading RFID Tags

We propose that improved applications of RFID technology in the supply chain can be achieved by incorporating cascading smart tags, wherein groups of products such as cases, pallets, or truckloads are associated with a “macro tag” that provides information about smaller groupings of products or individual products and their associated tags. For example, a case of 24 tagged products can have a macro tag on the case that can provide...