RFID Talk Blog

Professor receives RFID patent for inventory management apps

A professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology has been awarded a patent for a new inventory management system that virtually eliminates frequency interference issues in facilities that use RFID to manage inventories and track products. The solution is expected to have the biggest potential when it comes to frozen goods like foods and pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Jagannathan Sarangapani, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, says the improved product readability could save companies considerable money in lost inventory and will help to protect consumers and companies by guaranteeing the product is what it claims to be.

“Our system reads and manages inventory in real time with a nearly 99 percent read rate,” says Sarangapani. “Previous systems had only a 60-70 percent read rate.”

A number of factors can impact the ability of RFID readers to successfully read product tags. Tag interference occurs when multiple readers attempt to read a tag at the same time. Reader collision occurs when multiple readers are used and a carrier signal from one reader interferes with another. Reader collision makes the tags unreadable and lowers overall read rates.

Sarangapani says his team overcame these challenges by developing software that activates and deactivates adjacent RFID readers within the facility based on the tagged product’s location. The software also queries an inventory database based on information collected from the item’s tag. “If shelves are empty of a product, or if a product is about to expire, it will alert the system,” Sarangapani says. “Employees can also track when the next shipment is coming.”

An additional benefit of the new system is its ability to read tags on frozen goods. “Many chemicals and medicines must be kept refrigerated or frozen,” Sarangapani says. “Other systems cannot read tags on frozen items, so they have to be thawed first to be inventoried. Thawing sometimes makes the product unusable and it must be destroyed.”

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