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Thursday, 6 August 2020

RFID | Applications in Textile & Apparel Industry

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification Device. It is an automatic identification technology whereby digital data encoded in an RFID tag or smart label is captured by a reader using radio waves. In simpler terms, it is similar to bar code technology but uses radio waves to capture data from tags, rather than optically scanning the bar codes on a label. It does not require the tag or label to be seen to read its stored data. It is one of the key characteristics of the RFID system.

How RFID works?
RFID systems consist of three basic components:
1. A tag (also called a transponder)
2. An interrogator (a reader or a read/write device) and
3. A controller (a host).

Working mechanism of RFID | Texpedia


RFID tags consist of an integrated circuit (IC) attached to an antenna, i.e. typically a small coil of wires covered with some protective packaging (like a plastic card) as determined by the application requirements. Data is stored in the IC and transmitted through the antenna to a reader. RFID tags are either Passive (no battery) or Active (self-powered by a battery). Tags also can be read-only (i.e. stored data can be read but not changed) or read/write (stored data can be altered or rewritten), or a combination, in which some data is permanently stored while other memory is left accessible for later encoding and updates.

A reader is basically a Radio Frequency (RF) transmitter and receiver, controlled by a microprocessor or digital signal processor. The reader captures the data from tags with the help of an antenna and then transfers the data to the computer for processing. Readers can be affixed in a stationary position (for example, beside a conveyor belt in a factory or dock doors in a warehouse) or portable (integrated into a mobile computer that also might be used for scanning bar codes). The reader, in turn, sends the data to the processor and determines the actions to be performed. Once the process is over, the processor sends an acknowledgement signal to the tag stating the completion of the operation.

RFID Application in Textile Industry
RFID technology can be used to build systems aimed at automatic identification of tagged objects. In the textile sector, it will enable strict control over both production and storage/sale processes. The best thing about RFID technology is that it is functional, with no need to View the tag by the interrogator. Unlike bar codes technology, RFID can be much more effective in the process of production and storage of certain products.

Product Tracking System
In the spinning industry, it is used to avoid product mix, which is one of the prevailing problems faced in the quality control department. The areas such as carding, drawing and combing (sliver can hank mix-up), simplex (bobbin mix-up), ring spinning (cop mix-up) can be avoided by placing the tag in the corresponding semi-finished materials.


Application of RFID in Textile Industry | Texpedia
Product Tracking by RFID in the Textile Industry

Tracking of the Labour Movement
Knowing where an employee is at a particular time, would allow the management to dispatch the closest-qualified employee to a location requiring assistance. If an RFID reader detects an RFID-tagged employee approaching a security door, the door could be designed to open automatically. This would allow employees carrying packages or carts to move more efficiently. Additionally, if store management could verify through an automated system that an employee was at the appropriate station at the start of the shift or end of a break, some aspects of labour management could be automated, requiring less effort by employees and the management. This type of monitoring would also allow the management to know, for instance, if an employee spends excessive time in the break room or if he/she is not getting enough break time. Reports could be generated automatically to flag exceptions for management attention.

Fabric Lot Storage and Retrieval
Due to limited machine capacity in a wet processing unit, a fabric order may require many numbers of lots, each lot will be having their own shades. In this process, it is mandatory to bring each lot up to the garment stitching process in order to control the shade variations and product mix up. An Italian textile manufacturer, Griva, has applied RFID tags as a part of a new system to control production units and stock-rooms. The tags are attached to the outside parts of cores of rolls with fabric. This has several advantages. First, the process of fabric stock-taking in stockrooms is much more effective. Secondly, the effectiveness of all production and storage processes is higher. Moreover, it enables tracking a given object at every stage of its production process. Finally, Griva achieved a return on its RFID investment within nine months.

Garment Washing and Laundering
The normal RFID tags are not launderable and also it is not possible to tag the garment using barcodes in the process of washing and laundering. For this purpose, a German company which makes RFID tags, KSW Microtec, has unveiled two new labels. One can be ironed or sewn directly onto the fabric of a garment. The other is mounted on a polyester substrate and sewn onto a garment. The new flexible 13.56 MHz labels can withstand temperatures of up to 40C. They have a life expectancy of 10 years and are not affected by tumble-drying, ironing processes. KSW is also working on a label that can withstand temperatures of up to 60C. The company wants to apply its technology to tag uniforms for the US army. Texas Instruments plans to offer its customers an RFID tagging system in a form of plastic rings that can be sewn or stuck onto a garment cleaned in factory laundries.

Merchandise Leveling Across Stores
Some stores require customers to leave merchandise that they are carrying at a desk or provide evidence of purchase. However, if a store has RFID readers and RFID-tagged merchandise, shoppers could avoid this step. Instead, at checkout, the readers would charge customers only for items with tags that indicate that they were not already paid for.

RFID in a garments production line | Texpedia
RFID in a garment production line
Easy Product Accessibility in Retail Stores
By using RFID, shop sellers can identify the exact location of any retail item at any time. Customer requests can be handled quickly and easily by your customer service team through access to a centralised database. RFID-tagged items offer store-to-store visibility, so items can be located immediately with the touch of a button. This level of product accessibility results in shorter wait times for customers and offers a better shopping experience. Improving overall store efficiencies ultimately results in greater savings to customers.

Exchange Goods Inventory Control
When any apparel product is returned or exchanged, its RFID tag could be read and automatically added to the inventory database. Employees who do re-stocking could read the RFID for returned items; they could be given information about where to place them (that is, the appropriate shelf if the item is not defective, or a particular area in shipping for returning to the vendor if the item is defective). An application could automatically compare the RFID code of the returned item against recall notifications.

Re-Stocking Alerts and Replenishment
Products are monitored to ensure that they remain stocked at appropriate levels. When they fall below that level, an alert is sent to the stockroom or office to bring out or order more merchandise. For stores with stockrooms, RFID monitoring alerts employees when stock levels reach the threshold. For example, if many black trousers of the waist 32-size are being sold and are getting out of stock, RFID can send an alarm to order more such trousers from the storeroom.

Customer-Specific Shopping Reminders and Promotions
With RFID on loyalty cards to identify the customer and a customer shopping-history database, items could be priced differently depending on the characteristics of the shopper (eg, special promotions for first-time shoppers and rewards for frequent shoppers). Different promotions could be offered to different customers via their personal digital assistants or cell phone displays, at kiosks (Information Booth), and by employees receiving price on their point-of-sale terminals. Additionally, if customers have submitted their profiles to the store, they could be reminded of upcoming events such as birthdays, and have purchases suggested to them. These can be added on to the loyalty cards which already exist at places like Shopper’s Stop, Wills Lifestyle, etc, and it can be centralised to all the stores in different cities so that customers get similar welcome whether they are in Dhaka or London or new york.

Conclusion 
RFID technology can have many different applications. It is very useful in tracking textile and apparel products at every stage of their existence. However, implementation of the technology is still limited, mainly because of the price of RFID tags and harsh environment in textile production (high temperatures, chemicals, physical processing). Nevertheless, the technology of RFID tags production is developing and this may lead to a reduction in prices. When the price barrier is overcome, RFID growth should be a matter of time. Undoubtedly, both production and commerce companies will significantly benefit from RFID applications.

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