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RFID Tags on Clothes: Washable RFID Tags

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Feb 28, 2024
  • RFID
RFID Tags on Clothes: Washable RFID Tags

The RFID technology has been around long but we have been witnessing a rapid growth in RFID use cases over the last few years only. And to a great extent, it has to do with the decline in RFID implementation costs. A UHF passive RFID label now costs 4-5 US cents which was earlier around 40-50 cents. That’s a huge decline in RFID tag cost over the last few years, leading to high demand for RFID products in various industries such as retail, supply chain, logistics, manufacturing, automation, healthcare, education, etc. 

‘RFID tags on clothes’ is one such development where RFID labels, inlays, or hard tags are attached to clothing items for identification and tracking purposes. In various retail stores, RFID tags are attached to clothes, shoes, hats, etc. for identification and stock management purposes. At POS, either the tag is removed after billing or it is irrevocably deactivated in the case of washable labels on clothes. A kill password in the RFID tag memory is used for this purpose.

When Benetton Planned to Introduce RFID Smart Tags in Apparel

It was the year 2003 when Terry Phipps who was consulting CIO of Ponzano Veneto, Italian fashion group Benetton, made the announcement that for the first time, the company had planned to introduce tracking technology into one of its product lines. 

What followed this announcement was a protest by some privacy groups and individuals, one of them being Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a Harvard-educated privacy activist who wrote the book, ‘SPYCHIPS’, a quite interesting take on privacy and data breach and tracking of individuals using RFID tags. Forced by the vehement protests by these groups, Benetton decided to drop the idea saying, “No microchips (smart labels) are present in more than 100 million garments produced and sold throughout the world under its brand names, including the Sisley brand." It would first analyze various studies available on RFID technology and then think about RFID tags in the future.

Dr. Katherine Albrecht, in her book ‘Spychips,’ made ferocious arguments on how RFID tagging of consumer-oriented products like clothes and groceries would lead to many privacy concerns and big companies invading the private lives of individuals through RFID tags. 

RFID tags on clothes at Present

RFID tags in clothes indeed pose several challenges, not only for the brands but for the consumers as well. Data privacy laws in various countries prevent such kind of snooping by apparel companies while customers also have no means to check if any particular RFID tag in their shirt or shoe is still active or not. 

Various washable RFID tags for clothes now exist that can be sewn into clothes and given that RFID washable labels are inexpensive as of now, many fashion brands are using RFID tags for their fashion retail supply chain and inventory management. RFID tagging of each item in a store, placing RFID tags on clothes, etc. improves the overall visibility of items inside the store, enhances inventory management, and improves customer experience. Fashion giants like H&M, Zara, Levi Strauss and Co, Ralph Lauren, Burberry London, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, etc. have successfully implemented RFID tags in their stores with item-level RFID tagging, supply chain tracking, and RFID tags in fitting rooms, etc.

Fashion companies also use RFID tags to prevent counterfeiting of their products. Unique kinds of RFID tags with unique identification can be sewn into apparel to prevent first copies and duplicates of popular brand items.

RFID tags for Clothes 

Common sense dictates that you cannot sew an RFID hard tag on a piece of clothing. So, what kinds of RFID tags are suitable for clothing items and what happens when you wash that particular apparel in a washing machine? 

Well, RFID offers a great form factor, even in the form of an implant but you don’t need a tiny implant for clothes. Various Washcare RFID tags are available that can be sewn into clothing items with great subtlety. Washable RFID labels for garments are made of wash care fabrics such as taffeta and can stand hundreds of wash cycles, hot water, high temperatures, and other wash-related issues. 

A Washcare or Washable RFID tag for garments costs around INR 6 onwards. An RFID taffeta tag, which is made of taffeta fabric, also costs INR 6 per tag and can be availed from Various kinds of RFID garment tags such as button tags, silicone, and fabric tags are also used for garment tagging.

Washable RFID Tags for Tracking Clothes

Washable RFID tags are manufactured to handle water, cleaning agents, and various laundering processes, which makes them suitable for clothes. These washable tags are manufactured with UHF RFID technology (frequency 860-960 MHz) and comply with the standard communication protocol of ISO 18000-6C EPC Class 1 Gen 2. They go through different kinds of rough washing processes, including sterilization and ironing, used to identify various types of garments across distinct fields like industrial washing, medical apparel management, military clothing management, hospital linen and inventory management, hotel management, bed linen management, garment inventory management, restaurants, dry cleaning stores, retail stores, etc.

Here are some common types of washable RFID tags:

1. Laundry Tags for Linen Tracking

Laundry tags for linen tracking are small, electronic tags that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to track linens and other fabric items through the laundry process. They are designed to continuously track them throughout the process of laundering and are made up of 100% polyester with a polycotton fabric base.

Laundry tags for linen tracking are specifically designed to track linen inventory and ensure hospitals have the right amount of linen on hand.

2. Fabric Laundry Tags for Garment Tracking

RFID fabric laundry tags are specifically crafted for garment tracking in the apparel industry. These tags are sewn into clothing. Which offers various applications like inventory management, theft prevention, and real-time tracking of garments throughout the supply chain. They can withstand over 200 washing cycles efficiently as they are made up of 100% polyester material.

UHF RFID fabric laundry tags for garment tracking are used in various laundry businesses, laundry and textile industries, medical apparel management, military clothing management, etc.

3. RFID Silicone Laundry Tags

As their name suggests, RFID silicone laundry tags are constructed from silicone material. These are suitable for various laundry applications. With resistance to water, chemicals, and high temperatures, these tags excel in durability and resist up to 200 washing cycles.

UHF RFID Silicon tags are commonly used in industrial laundry processes for industrial washing, management of uniforms, medical apparel management, personnel patrol management, and military clothing management.

4. RFID Non-Woven Fabric Laundry Tags

Non-woven fabric RFID laundry tags offer a cost-effective solution for garment tracking. They are resistant to water and chemicals, lightweight, and can withstand high-temperature ironing as well as 200 times industrial washing, making them perfect for clothing and garment applications.

They are also easy to attach quickly and scannable, making them suitable for applications such as hospital laundry tracking, hotel linen tracking, apparel rental tracking, industrial laundry tracking, and textile production tracking.

5. PPS Button Laundry Tag

PPS button laundry tags are compact and robust, designed for attachment to garments, and made up of polyphenylene sulfide material, which makes them highly durable. These tags are sewn into clothing items such as pants, shirts, and towels. Their durability and resistance to harsh laundering help them to withstand up to 200 washing cycles. These RFID tags find applications in garment rental services, industrial washing, and medical apparel management to ensure accurate tracking and management of clothing items.

Benefits of RFID tags on Clothes 

RFID tags on clothes have become increasingly popular, offering numerous benefits such as inventory management, anti-theft measures, and enhanced customer experience. 

Unlike barcodes, RFID tags on clothes do not require a direct line of sight to be scanned, making them more efficient and accurate for inventory management in retail stores as well as laundry stations. 

Inventory Management in Retail Stores

In retail stores, it is difficult to find a particular item on an urgent basis given the huge inventory retail stores have to keep. Using RFID tags on clothes provides retailers with real-time visibility of their inventory. Placing RFID readers at strategic locations allows retailers to track the movement of clothes throughout their supply chain, improving accuracy and reducing stock-outs.

Supply Chain Optimization

RFID tags also enable seamless tracking of clothes from the manufacturer to the store shelves, allowing retailers to streamline their supply chain operations, reduce manual labor, and improve order fulfillment speed. Since customers nowadays need real-time updates on their orders, RFID allows real-time tracking improving order fulfillment. 

Anti-Theft Measures

RFID tags can be used to deter shoplifting and reduce losses as well. When a customer attempts to leave a store with an item that hasn't been paid for, RFID readers can trigger alarms, alerting store personnel. RFID prevents stock shrinkage.

Benefits of RFID tags on clothes for Consumers

Improved Shopping Experience

RFID on clothes helps with locating tagged items on an urgent basis. It also allows for faster and more accurate checkout processes. Customers can simply place their items on a reader or pass through a gate, eliminating the need for manual scanning. This improves customer shopping experience tremendously.

Personalized Recommendations

RFID tags on clothes can help retailers gather customer data and their preferences. 

It enables them to provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases and preferences as well. Based on sales and demand, retailers can also stock more items in a particular category to meet customer expectations. It also helps with easy returns.

To summarize, RFID tags on clothes have revolutionized the retail, laundry, and textile industries by enhancing inventory management, optimizing supply chains, and improving the overall shopping experience. There are various types of washable RFID tags for laundry and linen tracking which is very much in use in laundry management, healthcare and hospitality sector.

The use of RFID tags also raises concerns about data security and privacy. Some argue that the use of RFID tags on clothes infringes on personal privacy by allowing constant tracking of individuals. However, proper protocols and regulations can address these issues. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Sep 18, 2023
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