The AP5.4 RFID printer from Avery Dennison carries a wireless card that lets it talk over a WiFi network. Range is about 200 ft.

The AP5.4 RFID printer from Avery Dennison carries a wireless card that lets it talk over a WiFi network. Range is about 200 ft.


The move to RFID tags is having an unintended consequence: It is promoting the use of wireless networks both in factory operations and retail stores.

Bar-code printer maker Avery Dennison, Philadelphia, says the RFID movement has led many manufacturers to set up WiFi networks in their production facilities partly as a means of slapping RFID tags on outgoing cartons of product. Because only a few retailers demand that suppliers deliver RFIDtagged merchandise, the tagging tends to take place at the loading dock as manufacturers get ready to ship, says Avery Dennison. A printer equipped with a WiFi card sits at the dock to produce the tags . The WiFi connection lets the printer get instructions from a central computer about what to put on the tag. The WiFi facility comes in handy because few loading dock areas have hardwired Ethernet connections nearby.

Recently developed versions of bar-code and RFID-tag printers have the WiFi card built in. Though they have found use almost exclusively in shipping areas, Avery Dennison says retailers also are expressing interest in WiFi printers for similar reasons: Ethernet connections in retail stores tend to be up front at the cash registers. WiFi printers can sit anywhere. Wireless connections could let them crank out price tags in a back room to quickly handle situations such as mark-downs and in-store promotional pricing.

MAKE CONTACT
Avery Dennison, Printer Systems,
www.ris.averydennison.com
Belkin Corp.,
belkin.com
FotoNation,
fotonation.com
Freescale Semiconductor,
freescale.com
Gefen Inc.,
gefen.com
Icron Technologies Corp.,
icron.com
National Instruments Corp.,
ni.com
Wimedia Alliance,
wimedia.org
Wisair Corp.,
wisair.com