Aileen Ryan Shares Insights on RAIN RFID Market Development!
RAIN RFID is booming: despite the semiconductor shortage, 30 billion RAIN RFID tag ICs were sold in 2021 – a 36% increase over the previous year. According to VDC Research, this number is expected to rise to 88.5 billion by 2028. Significant support for the proliferation of the specific passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID technology is provided by the industry alliance RAIN Alliance. Recently appointed President and CEO Aileen Ryan talks about RAIN RFID adoption, use cases and trends in an interview with "RFID & Wireless IoT Global".
Aileen Ryan: Inventory management is currently one of the leading use cases for RAIN RFID. However, we are seeing rapid technology adoption in logistics and transportation. The tracking of returnable shipping containers in the automotive, aerospace and aviation industries is on the rise. I think we'll hear more about these applications very soon, in addition to healthcare applications such as OR inventory management and patient identification. These use cases are increasingly coming to the forefront.
2. What are the latest developments regarding passive UHF RFID tags?
Ryan: We are seeing a proliferation of RAIN RFID with different inlays that have unique technical requirements. This trend continues as new use cases are constantly being designed with immediate responses from the industry. One example is tire manufacturing. Tags embedded in tires must withstand certain chemical environments, temperature fluctuations and different rotational characteristics throughout their lifecycle.
3. What is the connection between RAIN RFID and sustainability?
Ryan: The topic of sustainability and environmental protection is receiving more attention. RAIN RFID plays a crucial role in this for a wide range of applications, such as waste prevention. Items like electric vehicle batteries or clothing items for example are tagged in production and tracked throughout their lifecycle, right through to disposal and recycling processes. In terms of inlays, production is shifting from PET to paper. Manufacturers are also evaluating the use of copper and nano inks, as well as more environmentally friendly alternatives.
4. Let's talk about the combination of UHF and sensor technology. How important is this trend?
Ryan: The use of temperature and humidity sensors, especially in combination with RAIN RFID tags, is gaining traction. We are seeing these combined sensing and RAIN RFID systems being used to transport temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. This includes vaccines in particular, as this use case is especially prominent after three years of Covid. However, not only the pharmaceutical industry, but also the food industry relies on such a solution for temperature control during transport.
Overall, I think RAIN RFID is a complementary technology that is often used in conjunction with other IoT technologies. It also facilitates the deployment of other technologies such as robotics or optical systems in quick commerce, grab-and-go retail, and logistics.
5. How is the RAIN Alliance helping to break down barriers to technology adoption?
Ryan: The RAIN Alliance, like many other industry associations, is focused on the concept of working groups. They bring together members interested in the same sector and, in particular, challenges within a sector. Examples include the Healthcare, Smart Road Transport and Sustainability working groups. These help members keep track of the latest developments, network with each other and collaborate.
Networking around specific goals with other organizations and end users is a focus of the RAIN Alliance. Knowledge exchange takes place via the website or events. A few years ago the RAIN Alliance published the e-book "What is RAIN RFID", a framework for end users who are thinking about starting a RAIN RFID project.
6. What is currently the biggest challenge in terms of technology adoption?
Ryan: One of the focus topics of the RAIN Alliance is the tag clutter concept. The term refers to the concept when a reader sends out a signal and every RAIN RFID tag in the environment responds. There are tags that do not use the GS1 or ISO tag identification system. This causes confusion in the market. In terms of technology adoption, RAIN Alliance and GS1 are very aware of the tag clutter challenge. We are working together to reduce tag clutter, especially considering the potentially explosive increase in tag numbers that awaits us in the future.