RFID systems manufacturerThe development division

Overcoming RFID Tag Battery Capacity IssuesA Low Battery on Shipping Container Tag Caused the Loss of Temperature Data, Spelling Disaster


Japan recently beefed up regulations governing the importation, exportation, and storage of food, and now requires operators to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. The radio frequency identification tag (RFID) system manufacturer discussed here was struggling to perform maintenance on temperature-sensing tags it had supplied to a shipping company client.


When an RFID Tag Supposed to Warn of Anomalies Malfunctions

The manufacturer was prompted to perform maintenance after it heard about an importer that ran into trouble when the RFID tags it used for temperature control malfunctioned, causing a large quantity of foodstuffs to be spoiled. When the manufacturer checked its own RFID tags, it found that many had low batteries. The cause of the incident experienced by the importer was a flat battery in an RFID tag used to monitor the temperature in a shipping container, therefore rendering the tag incapable of detecting unsafe temperatures. The manufacturer’s product development team discussed how it could avoid a similar fate.

Discussions Revealed New Problems

In the course of discussions, it was suggested that all RFID tags be recalled before their batteries failed, the internal primary coin type batteries replaced with new ones, and the tags returned to the shipping company. However, this approach would necessitate the retrieval and reissue of a large number of RFID tags, and the time-consuming removal of tags and replacement of batteries by hand. It would also create additional running costs. This option was determined unrealistic and rejected. While the option of switching to tags with larger or additional batteries was also suggested, it was feared that users would not accept the increased cost and the need to use larger tags.

Main Issues

  • The client wanted to avoid sensing errors caused by low (primary coin type battery) batteries in temperature-sensing RFID tags.

  • It would have been unrealistic to retrieve tags early for battery replacement because of the increased running costs and labor requirements.

  • It was assumed that users would not accept tags fitted with larger, or additional, batteries, because of their increased size and cost.