Where RAIN RFID is Booming
RAIN RFID inlays and tag sales are rising – and the trend is set to continue, according to the latest industry research.
Based on data received from four RAIN Alliance members (Impinj, EM Microelectronics, NXP Semiconductors and Quanray Electronics), 28.38 billion ICs were shipped in 2021, rising to 34.046 billion chips sold in 2022. Furthermore, according to the RAIN Alliance commissioned report from VDC Research, this number is expected to rise to 88.5 billion by 2026 - representing an average annual growth of 25%. An article summarizing the full report is available here.
New markets, new products
Tageos anticipates a wide range of new opportunities for RAIN RFID technology and applications in the coming years. Inventory management in retail is certainly still one of the leading use cases for the technology today, driven by flagship customers such as Walmart, Nordstrom and Uniqlo. To satisfy that growing market, Tageos launched its EOS-261 range of extra small, highly versatile and fully certified RAIN RFID inlays and tags for retail applications (more here).
In addition, the company is seeing rapid technology adoption in logistics and transportation. One good example is the UPS initiative to expand RFID to the rest of its US network in 2023 (read more).
Baggage tracking demand is again continuously improving, accelerated by the Chinese government decision - CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) - to make RAIN RFID tags mandatory for baggage tracking at airports handling over 10 million passengers per year. This trend continues to increase as passenger volumes recover from the pandemic, with many airlines and airports now expected to restart RFID baggage tracking initiatives.
Anticipating this trend, Tageos has launched the market’s smallest ARC-approved baggage tracking inlays, EOS-350 M730 / M750 and EOS-350 U9. The new inlays stand out because of their ultracompact size, with a 17% smaller antenna than the next smallest product on ARC’s Spec U approved inlay list.
Manufacturing applications and related inlay volumes are anticipated to grow very quickly to multiple billions of units per year. Here, many specialty RAIN RFID tags are needed for environmentally challenging conditions in the categories of temperature, pressure, mechanical shock, moisture, among others.
For industrial applications, Tageos has extended its portfolio with the EOS-500 U7xm-2k for where extended memory and reliable performance on high-dielectric materials is needed. Same for the EOS-340 M730/U9, which replaces legacy dual-dipole inlays. To support high-performance solutions in industrial and manufacturing environments, Tageos will continue to introduce new products based on the latest IC generations in summer of 2023.
The Healthcare, Pharma and Food industries are also showing encouraging signs of accelerated adoption of RAIN RFID inlays, with the healthcare sector demonstrating a renewed focus on operations and inventory management.
Pharmaceutical serialization & traceability mandates may create significant opportunities to further automate existing QR and barcode solutions. In the area of unit-dose medication tagging, the EOS-202 U9 inlay remains the smallest, most versatile ultra-compact inlay with ARC Spec S approval and UnitVisID certification across the highest number of applications.
Food sector opportunities are expanding in the areas of Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and cashless checkout at grab-and-go food outlets. QSR chains like McDonald’s and Chipotle are engaged in RFID projects to improve visibility and operational efficiency.
In that area, Tageos has introduced the ARC Spec Z approved EOS-450 M730 and EOS-450 U9 inlays for tagging food cartons. In Q3 of 2023 Tageos will introduce a high-memory option to store additional attribute data such as date and batch/lot into the tag memory to accommodate the GS1 US RFID Foodservice Implementation Guideline.
In terms of the latest developments regarding passive RAIN RFID tags, we are seeing a proliferation of RAIN RFID products with different inlays that have unique technical requirements. This trend continues as new use cases are constantly emerging, triggering the rapid development of new, highly specialized inlays. One example is tire manufacturing, where Tageos has introduced the EOS-460 U9, a new tire tagging RAIN RFID inlay with an unmatched size/performance ratio (details here).
Another new market development involves the combination of RAIN RFID tags with sensor technology. The measurement of temperature, mechanical strain, light and humidity with passive RAIN RFID sensor tags is gaining traction, and we are seeing these new applications developing in many different industries, such as manufacturing, cold chain, and farming.
Taking this trend into consideration, Tageos has expanded its range of EOS-8xx Sensor RAIN RFID inlays with new product innovations. Based on the latest sensor IC family from Asygn, the EOS-890 Sensor inlays can measure mechanical strain and temperature. Thanks to an optimized antenna design (24mm x 94mm), the new products provide extraordinary RF performance and longer read range, especially on high-dielectric materials and surfaces.
Sustainability growing in importance
Another big topic is sustainability and environmental protection, and RAIN RFID plays a crucial role in this for a wide range of applications, such as inventory management and supply chain visibility to avoid overproduction and product loss. For circular economy applications, clothing and fashion items can now be tagged in production and tracked throughout their entire product lifecycle, right through to re-use and recycling, for example.
In terms of RFID inlay and tag materials, there is a growing demand from brands and consumers towards paper substrate, 100% plastic-free products. Tageos offers the largest and most innovative portfolio of paper-based RAIN RFID inlays and tags in the RFID market, with currently 3 different product types and 12 antenna designs based on the latest IC’s. The company is fully committed to further expanding its EOS Zero™ product family as fast as possible to meet the growing demand for sustainability and innovations in this area as well.
Whatever the application, RAIN RFID can almost always supply the solution – either off the shelf, or as a bespoke product for a specific use case. For further information about Tageos’ range of RAIN RFID inlays and tags, please visit: www.tageos.com.