|RFID tags begin blank and so need to be electronically
encoded with a product number or other designation
before the tag is useful as an inventory
tracking aid. Devices to perform this electronic
encoding are called "encoders"
and are available as:
- standalone units - standalone (or single purpose) encoders
have simple utility functions for encoding
labels without the need for external software
or a computer hookup. This might be sufficient
if you are manufacturing a single item, need
to mark the RFID tags with the same number,
and are not concerned about capturing and
storing information separately from the tags.
- simple encoders - these units hook up to computers, are
about the size of a small label printer, and connect using either the RS-232 or
USB ports. The encoding software allows basic
tag or card initialization and puts the same
number or sequential numbers onto the tags
- special purpose computer hardware peripherals - these more complex units work with encoding
software to "burn in" the desired
data into the tag. These allow you to rapidly
create unique tags as well as transfer to
the tags information such as a customer address
from your order system.
You may also want to consider
encoder/barcode printer. By encoding
tag underneath a printed barcode
"smart label"), inventory
can be done electronically as
well as visually.
Smart label printers use special
paper which includes the thin RF chip or
metallic bars. These printers can be small
(about the size as a label printer without RFID encoding capability) with basic
functionality, or large, supporting high
volume, remote control, and automated label
adhesion to packages.