Metals and Liquids No Problem for RFID

Metals and liquids, once thought to be kryptonite for RFID, can now be successfully tagged with the technology. Marks and Spencer, a UK-based retailer, had been happily using RFID technology since 2003 to track and trace all of their apparel items. However, they recently made a decision to track all of their non-food items, such as pots and pans and perfumes, using RFID technology.

Although metals and liquids were typically considered a faux-pas when it came to RFID, Marks and Spencer worked with partners to design EPC Gen 2 RFID tags in various shapes and sizes for all of their different product offerings. Aside from being functional, the tags also needed to meet aesthetic requirements of cosmetic manufacturers. All in all, there are a total of 10 different tag formats that were used for their product offering.

A mock store located at the company’s headquarters was used to test the newly tagged products, ensuring that they would in fact work with metal objects, cosmetics and perfumes. Once satisfaction was achieved, Marks and Spencer began testing the tags at operational stores before then rolling out the technology to all non-food items throughout the entire chain.

Marks and Spencer was awarded the 2014 RFID Journal Award for Best Implementation for its RFID efforts. The retailer dispelled the fear that RFID can’t be used with metals and liquids and has paved the way for other manufacturers to do the same.