ARC Certified UHF RFID tags (also known as RFID tags) are tags which have gone through a rigorous testing process to ensure they are compliant with the performance standards needed for products sold by certain major retailers. The testing authority for ARC Certification is the Auburn RFID Lab located at Auburn University in Alabama.
Before releasing to the general public, RFID inlay manufacturers send new tags to the Auburn RFID Lab to be ARC certified. The testing process involves an on-site inspection of the manufacturer’s Quality Management System. The tags themselves are then tested for quality (the ability to produce one quality tag) and reliability (consistency in producing enough quality tags).
ARC-certified RFID tags are manufactured to conform to the RFID performance requirements of a certain use case (also known as a ‘spec’). Each spec is in a letter format and there is a list of approved inlays for that spec.
Note: While inlay manufacturers are responsible for getting their tags ARC certified, it’s the supplier’s responsibility to get their product and tags certified via the ALEC certification process. This final step ensures their product is accepted for sale by the retailer.
Selecting a tag designed for your use case is crucial for optimal performance, as each tag's functionality can greatly differ.
Spec Code: When choosing an ARC certified tag, suppliers should check to see which spec code their use case is assigned to by the Auburn RFID Lab. Suppliers then select a tag which is on the approved inlay list for that spec code.
Printing: Suppliers should consider whether printing on the tag is required, based on the specifications provided by the retailer. If printing is not required, most customers choose clear wet inlays. If a barcode and text needs to be printed on the tag, then white wet inlay or sticker is most often used.
Size and shape: ARC Certified RFID tags come in a range of sizes and shapes. The larger the tag, typically the larger the antenna. Use the largest antenna size possible for optimal performance and range.
There are other factors to consider when working with ARC Certified UHF RFID tags:
Stringent Encoding Standards: These tags need to be properly encoded following the GS1 EPC tag data standard. Gototags can provide blank or encoded tags as a service.
ALEC Certification Requirements: Before suppliers can ship their items to the retailer there is a final step for suppliers to satisfy: ALEC certification. Also administered by the RFID Lab at Auburn, the ALEC program was created to standardize the packaging of ARC RFID tags with their respective products, to ensure the tags can be scanned easily. There are a number of steps you need to follow for tag placement; Gototags can help with this process.