Available as RAIN RFID (UHF) and dual-frequency (UHF and NFC) tags, and for adhesive mounting or PU embedding, Smartrac’s new hard tags provide superior solutions for identifying and tracking beverage kegs, gas cylinders and other curved metal returnable transport items under bulk reading conditions.
With its new MAXDURA KEG products, Smartrac has addressed the typical drawbacks of conventional RFID tags for curved metal RTIs: reading failures in multiple unit environments and tag damage during production, distribution and maintenance processes such as cleaning and, particularly, forklift handling.
To avoid these problems, MAXDURA KEG tags are specifically designed to withstand the harshest treatment. The base version MAXDURA KEG and the dual-frequency version MAXDURA KEG DUAL are fully encased hard tags that are permanently glued to the inner face of the keg’s collar. There, they are optimally protected, do not interfere with hand transport and allow a lifting rod to be inserted. This specific tag placement also contributes to superior reading characteristics that allow 100% reading rates even when palettes or truckloads with up to 50 kegs pass an UHF RFID gate. To reliably achieve that superior performance, MAXDURA KEG’s and MAXDURA KEG DUAL’s UHF antennas are optimized to deliver maximum reading performance when placed about 15-20mm millimeters from the handling hole. Independent of its UHF performance, MAXDURA KEG DUAL’s NFC functionality simply requires tapping the tag with a smartphone, as defined by NFC standards.
For kegs with polyurethane covers, Smartrac offers another alternative: MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags that come as printed circuit boards (PCBs) without a casing, which are optimized for embedding or inserting into the PU which then acts as a casing. Carefully optimized for this environment, MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED equals its glue-on siblings in terms of its superior reading characteristics.
The entire MAXDURA KEG product line is the result of an application-centric development procedure including extensive lab and anechoic chamber tests, as well as practical tests in close cooperation with customers. Abolishing the need for welding, MAXDURA KEG tags are suitable for building into new kegs as well as for retrofitting existing ones.
The additional NFC functionality of MAXDURA KEG DUAL tags enables various options. Firstly, keg suppliers can connect with their customers smoothly and innovatively and provide them with a multitude of mobile digital experiences at the tap of a smartphone. Secondly, NFC enables customers such as innkeepers or retailers to access keg ID data – formerly provided through low-frequency tags – via their smartphones and hence without the need for dedicated handheld readers.
All MAXDURA KEG tags come equipped with Impinj Monza R6-P ICs that comply with EPC Class 1 Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards and protocols. Offering up to 96 bits of EPC memory and 96 bits of serialized TID with a 48-bit serial number, the RAIN RFID chip meets industry demands by delivering unmatched read performance, data integrity and the industry’s fastest encoding speeds. Dual-frequency MAXDURA KEG DUAL tags are additionally equipped with the newest member of NXP’s SLIX product family, the ICODE SLIX2 IC featuring up to 316 bytes of user memory. This chip complies with NFC Forum Type 5 specifications and ISO 15693 standards and excels in performance in terms of read range and speed.
Smartrac's “glue-on” MAXDURA KEG and MAXDURA KEG DUAL tags have compact and extremely robust ABS casings and are prepared for adhesive fitting. MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags are available either as plain PCBs or equipped with mounting devices for diverse manufacturing or retrofitting processes. Additional accessories, an applicator gun and special glue are also available on request from Smartrac.
Smartrac's partner Wilms Supply Chain Technologies of Melle-Buer, Germany, supported the development of the new hard tags and is also one of the first to provide turnkey solutions for the beverage industry based on Smartrac’s MAXDURA KEG tags. Wilms has already secured private brewery Gaffel Becker, one of Germany's largest suppliers of draught beer, as a pilot customer for the retrofitting of its PU kegs with MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags.
“Our success is based on customer-oriented solutions – and this also applies in the case of the brewery of the famous ‘Gaffel Kölsch’ beer. It was remarkable for us to witness one of RFID’s leading manufacturers tailor its product development to specific market needs,” said Horst Rademacher, responsible for supply chain technologies at Gustav Wilms oHG.
“With our new MAXDURA KEG products, we have not only proven our ability to listen closely to partners’ and customers’ needs, but also our expertise to come up with high-quality hard tag solutions that outperform anything on the market,” added Thomas Notthoff, product manager at Smartrac.
Like the majority of Smartrac’s hard tag products, MAXDURA KEG tags can benefit from the capabilities of the company’s IoT platform that records and manages a complete set of unique transponder data (e.g. UID no., order no., batch no., or yield) at production level in a controlled and secure way. As the backbone of Smartrac’s product digitization solutions, it enables full traceability of delivered RFID products and provides reliable quality assurance.
All MAXDURA KEG tags will be available in high volumes from November 2019.