Hot Topic: High Temperature RFID tagging, demystified!

  • Blog

HT tagging is all the buzz these days. There is certainly a lot of buzz around high temperature applications and RFID. Between federal regulations for the healthcare industry, to the IoT driving “connected environments” and processes, I thought you might want to know what “Mo Knows” about the science behind high temperature tagging, the technologies being employed to ensure a seamless customer experience along with what you should be aware of when selecting an RFID tag labeled “high temperature”. Here are a few of the questions that I am asked most often…

Q. What is a high temperature RFID tag?

A. A high temperature tag should survive and perform when exposed to elevated temperatures. Pretty simple right? However, tags must be able to tolerate temperatures of up to 150°C as required for autoclave sterilization methods or even as high as 235°C in a manufacturing paint shop, for example.

Think about this: elevated temperatures can also result from exposure to all kinds of heat — like steam processes and high pressure in an application downhole drilling in the energy industry. When exposed to these elevated temperatures some “high temperature” RFID tags may experience changes in their tuning, tag failure and may detach from the asset – make sure you ask the right questions and explain your application fully when you’re evaluating tags (and tag vendors!).

Q. How can I be sure that high temperature tags will survive repeated exposure and use?

A. This is a great question. If you are investing in a tag that will survive extreme temperatures for a critical process or to ensure compliance, you want to be absolutely certain it won’t fail. Make sure you ask your vendor about validating both physical and RF stability. How do they test? What is their protocol? What are the use cases (temperature ranges and cycles) they are validating for? What is the failure rate?

Make sure your vendor is exposing the tags to the full range of temperatures that you will be exposing them to in the application (Omni-ID tests from -20°C up to +235°C as a benchmark). Best practices for testing includes both cycling applications (very cold to very hot or vice versa) for hundreds of hours, and “soak” testing which means the tag will remain in a certain temperature for a number of hours and still be readable at the end of the testing. Survivability is key in these applications and Omni-ID tests for 100% survivability in all cases!

Q. Should I expect to pay a premium for a high temperature tag.

A. Typically, to build a tag that will survive extreme applications requires premium components, enhanced quality control procedures and highly precise manufacturing techniques. This along with an extensive testing plan will provide a superior product that will perform in the real world. You can expect to pay a premium for high temperature tags across the marketplace – not a lot for ensuring performance in these specialty applications! And remember, volume discounts typically apply. So again, make sure you know your application – ask yourself how many assets am I tracking in both the near term and over the long term, it may make a difference when you calculate your ROI!

Q. I’m afraid the tag will fall off during use — Is there a recommended adhesive or attachment method for High Temperature tags?

A. There are unique challenges for attaching a tag in a high temperature application. Although there are many adhesive options, not all adhesives are well suited to survival in high temperature applications. This is an area where field testing is critical to achieve the optimal performance. Where possible, the ability to attach mechanically with screws or rivets is a great advantage.

The last word: critical applications that touch all of us (our cars, our food, our health) require enhanced process traceability. Often times, exposure to high temperatures, steam and/or a variety of chemical processes can quickly degrade current technology on the market creating a process or standards gap. Ensuring compliance for important things like maintenance schedules, safety procedures like autoclave for sterilization, and quality controls in manufacturing and food services ultimately ensure a quality experience for consumers. Now, you can harness the power of IoT in one of the most cost-effective technologies – RFID. Check back often – our team of product engineers are focused on preparing some high temperature test data versus competitive products that should release this quarter.

Stay connected my friends!