By Mark Roberti
Feb. 15, 2012—Impinj
, a Seattle-based provider of EPC Gen 2
) radio frequency identification
chips and readers, has introduced Monza Self-Serialization, its chip-based method of serializing Electronic Product Codes (EPCs). To take advantage of Monza Self-Serialization, a company must use EPC Gen 2 tags containing Monza 5 RFID
chips, as well as Impinj's Source Tagging Platform on its readers. Other RFID hardware vendors can offer their own chip-based serialization schemes, but Impinj reports that it is the first to announce a "fully supported, enterprise-ready approach."
Monza Self-Serialization is aimed at businesses that must tag
many individual products with unique serial numbers, such as apparel suppliers, pharmaceutical companies and others. The method involves employing the unique unalterable Tag ID (TID) burned into each microchip during manufacture. Using Impinj's Source Tagging Platform, a reader
adds part of the TID to the user company's manager number and product serial number, in order to create a Serialized Global Trade Identification Number (SGTIN), a GS1
identifier for products.
Larry Arnstein, Impinj's senior director of business development
Larry Arnstein, Impinj's senior director of business development, says the serialization process has caused disruptions in the supply chains of several companies that had been asked by retailers to tag their goods. Some businesses have had to change suppliers or service bureaus, since their existing tag suppliers could not manage the process of encoding serialized data. The serialization process requires that every tag be encoded with a unique EPC. If a company has multiple manufacturing facilities, ensuring that multiple tags are not encoded with the same Electronic Product Code
involves constantly checking a database for EPCs already assigned.
"Serialization is a big deal for suppliers [that don't currently tag their products], because most don't need to do it today, and introducing it becomes disruptive," Arnstein explains. "In October of 2010, we worked with a few suppliers to try to figure out a way to make it easier. We say our system is chip
-based because it doesn't involve any software or IT systems."
By using the TID to create the EPC, Arnstein says, Impinj removes the headache for suppliers, enabling them to follow their normal business processes. If a supplier is currently using a printer
to print labels, it may opt to replace that printer with an RFID printer supporting Monza Self-Serialization, in order to create unique EPCs upon printing and encoding the RFID label, before applying it to a product.
A supplier could also have blank EPC
tags affixed to items, and then use the Monza Self-Serialization method to bulk-encode the tags as the goods arrive at its warehouse. That would enable all processes to remain the same—the only change to the firm's operations would involve the bulk encoding. Finally, if a company utilized two or more service bureaus, those service bureaus could utilize the Monza Self-Serialization method to encode the tags without having to worry about duplicating EPCs.
At present, there are no RFID
label printers-encoders on the market that support serialization. Zebra Technologies
indicates that it is currently working to add support for Monza Self-Serialization to its line of RFID label printer
-encoders. A Zebra spokesperson says the company has prototypes in the field that are being used by an apparel supplier to tag
individual items, but the company needs to conduct much more testing before it can make printers that support self-serialization commercially available. According to Impinj, printers and readers from other vendors will also be able to support Monza Self-Serialization, provided that those devices have the necessary firmware
Arnstein reports that reading a TID and then encoding a tag does not significantly slow down the tag-encoding process. "We can encode 3,800 tags per minute using our high-speed Source Tagging Platform," he says, in conjunction with Monza Self-Serialization.
providers could work with reader
manufacturers to offer their own chip-based serialization. Impinj, however, believes it is the first to offer chip-based serialization, which the company says is available as of today. In addition, Impinj says it will help other companies that produce interrogators using its reader chips to offer chip-based serialization as well.
Impinj guarantees that TID-based EPCs will not be duplicated for 24 years when using all 38 bits of the generated serial number. Monza 5-based inlays are available from several inlay and ticket providers, including Arizon RFID Technology
, Avery Dennison
, LAB ID
, LS Industrial Systems
, SML Group
, Trace-Tech Id Solutions
and UPM RFID
. One Impinj partner will demonstrate Monza Self-Serialization at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012
, being held in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 3-5, 2012.