How To Know If Your Business Need A Mobile RFID Printing Solution?

How smaller RFID printers equate to a bigger ROI for many of your RFID labeling workflows

RFID tagging is growing in popularity across many sectors as organizations seek ways to better track and trace inventory and assets. High-value goods such as industrial equipment, IT assets, retail apparel, footwear, returnable containers, pallets, packages, food, patient wristbands and even airline passenger baggage can be better monitored and more easily located with an RFID tag than a barcode-only label, as can pallets and even individual items on store shelves.

Yet, most RFID label printers are stationary printers that sit on top of a desk inside the four walls of a facility. That means that field-based workers must either batch print labels prior to heading out on their route (assuming they know which assets need to be tagged that day) or they must frequently travel to and from a printer workstation to print labels when needed. Even in workplaces such as retail stores, warehouses, hospitals or factories where the RFID label printer may be “nearby” – meaning technically accessible by foot – workers still have to stop what they’re doing to walk over there. Such movements are very disruptive to workflows and productivity.

Plus, giving workers a way to print an RFID tag and immediately affix it to an asset helps to mitigate the risk of mis-tagging, which is quite a common occurrence. Whenever workers have to walk away from the point of application to retrieve an RFID tag off a shared desktop/industrial printer, the odds increase that they will either grab the wrong tag off the printer, go back and tag the wrong item or become distracted and – since they didn’t have the RFID tag in hand that very moment – forget to actually retrieve it from the shared desktop printer and/or go back to affix it to the asset.

Therefore, workers who need to print RFID labels to do their job and do not have constant arms-length-type access to a desktop RFID printer really should be given a lightweight mobile RFID printer to carry with them everywhere they go. These include, but are not limited to, workers responsible for:

  • In-store RFID exception tagging
  • Click and collect label printing
  • Pallet labeling and tagging
  • Post and parcel labeling
  • Airline baggage tagging
  • Asset tagging during equipment/infrastructure installation, inspection, maintenance or repair
  • Medical specimen collection and transport
  • Pharmacy inventory management
  • Shipping container/cargo tagging
  • Parts tracking
  • Defense logistics
  • Cannabis regulatory compliance
  • Food, pharmaceutical or medical device supply chain traceability

Here’s the catch: there aren’t a lot of mobile RFID printers available on the market today. In fact, Zebra is the only manufacturer that currently offers mobile printers with on-demand RAIN RFID printing and encoding capabilities. And until recently, we only offered fully rugged RFID printing solutions upon special request as a highly customized SKU as part of our ZQ500 Series. (Though the popular Zebra ZQ630 RFID mobile printer can be used for many warehousing, retail, transportation and manufacturing applications, it’s not inherently as rugged to withstand constant exposure to harsh outdoor elements such as dust or rain.)

However, we know how important it is to help all mobile workers stay put as much as possible. You can’t afford the time lost due to their frequent, and sometimes long distance, trips to the printer. So, we have re-engineered the most rugged mobile printers in Zebra’s portfolio to bring additional RFID label printing capabilities directly to the point of labeling, whether that is on the loading dock, in the middle of a store or in front of a residence, no matter the weather!

Thanks to a little innovation and a lot of smart engineering

Zebra’s fully rugged ZQ500 Series rugged mobile printer models can be used for RAIN RFID label printing and encoding in the field or the four walls of your facilities when needed.We also introduced a smaller 3-inch form factor (ZQ511) into the lineup and integrated all of the below features into both the new ZQ511 and the standard 4-inch mobile printer design (ZQ521):

  • Higher capacity PowerPrecision+ batteries
  • Better radios that have intelligent sleep mode with instant wake over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (so your printer can stay on all shift long) and fast 802.11r roaming connections for seamless connectivity while on the move
  • New and improved Asian character sets
  • New Power Smart Print Technology, printheads and print mechanisms which helps the printer to adapt darkness and speed depending on temperature condition
Not sure if your workers really need a fully rugged mobile RFID printing solution – or a mobile RFID printer at all?

Now that you know you have options, let’s talk about the things to consider when deciding which type of mobile printer is best suited for your RFID tagging workflows. It is critical that you ensure the printer and supplies you buy can support all of your labeling and printing workflows, reliably work in all potential use environments and meet all of your company’s unique IT requirements. You’ll want to consider:

  • The types of assets you plan to track using RFID and the type of media required to create the proper labels/tags.
  • The average number of RFID labels/tags you anticipate your workforce will need to produce each day.
  • Whether or not the workers responsible for printing RFID tags/labels will be arms-length away from a desktop/industrial RFID printer all day long or if they will have to “travel” at all from their normal work sites to a printer every time they need tags/labels.
  • If any of your RFID labeling applications are time sensitive. (i.e. An RFID tag must be affixed to every item coming off the production line or every pallet leaving your warehouse.)
  • If your RFID labeling (or other potential mobile printing) applications require special media. If they do, you should confirm if either genuine or certified supplies are available from the printer manufacturer for mobile printing devices specifically.
  • Your connectivity options. Do you need a Wi-Fi-enabled solution or will an ethernet cradle be required? Should the printer have Bluetooth® connectivity to a Zebra mobile computer for workflow continuity?

From there, you’ll be able to determine if a mobile RFID printing solution will help you increase the efficiency of certain labeling and printing applications and decrease the costs associated with each.


Article Credit: Zebra Technologies