RFID technology has been adopted for diverse applications in a wide range of industries. However, for many years, the life sciences and healthcare fields missed out on the full benefits that RFID delivers because they did not have a solution that could survive their specific rugged supply chain needs. Traditional RFID chips and tags are not capable of surviving sterilization by gamma and e-beam radiation.
Fortunately, Tego has the first UHF RFID technology proven to withstand gamma, ebeam, ethylene oxide, and autoclave sterilization methods, as well as cold storage to -80C. This enables an entire industry to incorporate RFID into medical device manufacturing and labelling, biologic processing and healthcare supply chain processes.
In one particular application, Tego is working with a large life sciences provider that uses gamma and e-beam sterilization in its manufacturing process. Their products are processed and stored in bottles, which have been fitted with Tego’s passive UHF tags. The provider maintains a running inventory of more than 20 million bottles, which are kept in a deep freeze for up to 60 days before final processing and delivery.
A key challenge is the need for cradle-to-grave traceability, in the event that manufacturing problems should trigger recalls. Tracking each and every bottle with a high level of efficiency – and without disrupting their entire business operation – is a formidable task that was previously addressed with an elaborate barcode system. However, the barcode reading process was labor-intensive and susceptible to reading errors due to the extreme cold.
Additionally, the company maintains a supply chain that’s spread across several hundred locations worldwide, making it cost prohibitive to create a company-wide, global database of inventory. The Tego solution enables radiation-resistant RFID tags to be applied to each pharmaceutical bottle and to store unique identifying numbers, as well as separate information about the bottle’s contents and whereabouts throughout the supply chain.
To allow end-to-end visibility of the data throughout the healthcare supply chain, Tego tailored their TegoView software for this particular application to enhance overall productivity and efficiency. The company is seeing significant benefits with the Tego RFID system fully deployed.
When the company used barcode labels to track products, shipping pallets often had to be broken down and cases opened so that workers could manually scan bottles one at a time. Now with the Tego solution, all the bottles inside a case can be read without opening the lid. As a result, a shipment that used to take eight hours to process can now be received in roughly 30 minutes.
Furthermore, the Tego solution eliminated the need to build a costly corporate network for sharing data collected at each location throughout the global supply chain. The high-memory TegoTag allows collected information to be stored directly with the asset, allowing each location to maintain a local database for a smaller, more secure and more cost-efficient solution. When bottles are inspected, either by quality assurance personnel or by government agencies, they can simply read the RFID tag to get the entire history of the bottle and its contents.
To learn more about how radiation-resistant RFID technology is benefitting the life sciences and healthcare field, and to read more details about this application, click here.
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