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Metro's meaty RFID app

UHF Gen 2 radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions provider Impinj, Inc. ( recently announced a groundbreaking implementation in food freshness and customer safety.

Impinj delivered a UHF RFID-based system to the world’s third largest retailer, METRO Group, in the most comprehensive in-store quality assurance initiative to date. At the launch of its Future Store in Toenisvorst, Germany, METRO Group began using RFID in the butchery to guarantee freshness, increase customer safety, and efficiently manage inventory.

The RFID tags are applied to the polystyrene foam meat trays before the meat is packaged. The filled trays are then placed in a customer-facing Smart Freezer that is about 320 sq ft in size and displays the packaged meat in three tiers. The Impinj Monza™ powered tag is used with an Avery Dennison ( AD222 inlay that measures nominally 33⁄4 in. x 1⁄4 in.

Approximately 50 Impinj Speedway® readers and 200 Impinj near-field UHF antennas inside the Smart Freezer continually monitor the “best before” date for each package and alert store personnel to remove goods before they reach that date. Each antenna measures 12 x 10 x 11⁄2 in. Packaging World has confirmed that the tags are indeed polled continuously rather than hourly or in other timed periods.

Additional read points at both point-of-sale terminals and exit gates make sure that stock levels are accurately monitored at all times.

As a key element in METRO Group’s goal of ensuring that customers purchase only fresh meat products, Impinj’s technology provides real-time, automated inventory, eliminating tedious and error-prone daily manual inventory.

Seeking a safe, effective, and financially sound solution, METRO Group selected long-term partner Impinj to pioneer the challenging meat-tagging solution.

“Impinj’s position as a leader in the RFID business and their experience with item-level tagging made them the natural choice for our implementation. We have worked with them in the past and have been satisfied with the results each time,” says Dr. Gerd Wolfram, managing director of METRO Group Information Technology. “We use RFID in our real Future Store in order to ensure the quality assurance and inventory of fresh self-service meat products. We believe it is our responsibility to provide customers with the highest level of safety possible, and working with Impinj RFID technology gives us maximum levels of performance with minimal integration issues.”

Impinj notes that its RFID antennas provide twice the field strength of typical far-field RFID reader antennas within a 12-in. NF range, thus making them more likely to read tags in the presence of meat, a high salt-and-water content food that poses a challenge to traditional RFID.

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