A certification is typically a credential that is earned by an individual, company, or product that guarantees legitimacy of knowledge, competency, skill, qualification, adherence, and/or a specialized trait. Most hardware and electronics, which encompasses RFID tags and equipment, can be certified for one or more of the following:
• Certified to have a specific trait (ATEX, IECEx)
• Certified to abide with certain regulations (EPCglobal, NA)
• Certified to be approved by a specific organization (ARC, AEI/ATA)
When hardware such as RFID equipment is certified, typically the certification is for the hardware to be used in a specific environment, region, or application. In some industry environments, hardware cannot be used if it does not have the appropriate certification, which usually relates to safety concerns. Below are some of the most common certifications for RFID tags and hardware, as well as information and examples of each.
Noted Exception – In the RFID industry, certifications that abide by regulations are discussed in relation to RFID tags and hardware, for instance:
• A regional certification (ex: “certified for use in North America”)
• An EPC, ISO, or gen2 certification, more commonly discussed as ‘EPC compliance’, ‘gen2 compliance’, or ‘in compliance with ISO regulations’ (ex: “EPC Certified”, “EPCglobal Certified”, “gen2 Certified”, “ISO certified”)
These certifications are all typically referred to as ‘in compliance with’ because they specifically refer to a product complying with regulations set by the governing body in reference. All authentic RFID products should always be in compliance with all RFID regulations set by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and GS1, which develop and maintain global standards like the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and the tag data standard Generation 2 (gen2).
In addition, all RFID products must be certified for use in a specific region, which means that the hardware or tag complies with that region’s specific RFID and electronic rules and guidelines. If a product is not certified for use in a country or region, it does not follow that country’s laws in relation to RFID/electronics and cannot be used in that area. Read more about Regional Regulations here.
Because all authentic RFID products must have these compliances to be used, we will not be covering these items.
Popular Certifications for RFID Tags & Hardware
• ATEX Certified – ATEX stands for ‘Atmospheres Explosible’ and is a mandatory certification for equipment that will be used in hazardous environments in Europe. An ATEX Certification consists of two Directives created by the EU. ATEX 214 applies to equipment that is intended for and safe to be used in explosive atmospheres. ATEX 137 applies to a workplace or a zone within a workplace that an explosion or explosive atmosphere may exist or occur.
An ATEX Certification for an RFID tag or RFID equipment means that the product has met all requirements by the EU and can be safely used in potentially explosive atmospheres in Europe.
An example of an RFID tag that is ATEX Certified is the Xerafy Dot-On XS
• IECEx Certified – IECEx is an international conformity assessment system created and operated by the International Electrotechnical Commission, better known as the IEC. IECEx was created to be an international standard for testing equipment for use in Explosive Atmospheres.
IECEx is very similar to an ATEX certification, except for that it is an international standard run by the IEC, and ATEX is strictly a European standard created by the EU. Both certifications are awarded to products that meet all required testing standards for the product to be used in an Explosive Atmosphere.
Read more here
• UL Certified – UL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, a certification company that safety certifies and creates industry standards for products. UL tests or authorizes a manufacturer to test a product to ensure products are safe for people to use, follow the correct standards, handle the correct amount of electrical current, and are constructed properly.
UL Certified can be divided into two specific types:
o UL Listed – certifies that a finished product is safe to use by a typical consumer during regular wear and tear. This verifies that consumer-ready products are free from a risk of fire or electric shock as well.
o UL Recognition – a component inside a larger piece of machinery or mechanism is UL certified and not the final product. This could be something like a motor, or a core piece of electronics inside a product.
Read more here
• UL94 Certified - UL94 is a specific standard developed by Underwriters Laboratories that tests and rates products on flame resistance. Products that are the least flame-retardant are rated HB and the highest, most flame-retardant products are rated 5VA. The scale is as follows, (least-retardant to most-retardant) HB, V-2, V-1, V-0, 5VB, and 5VA.
An example of an RFID antenna that is UL94 Rated is the Laird PAR90209H RFID Antenna
• IP Certified – IP Certification was created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and refers to a rating scale that rates the degrees of protection from the ingress of foreign bodies like dust, dirt, and water. IP rating typically rates enclosures, which includes a wide range of electronics and electronic cases.
RFID tags, antennas, readers, and enclosures are all IP rated on a scale between IP 00, which is no protection, and IP 69, which indicates complete protection against solids and liquids. Most RFID equipment is rated between IP 50 and IP 69 and those ratings can be used to determine if the product can be used in an outdoor environment.
An example of an RFID tag that is IP Rated IP 69 is the HID Global InLine RFID Tag
• IK Certified – IK Certification was created by the EU and refers to a rating scale that rates the degrees of protection from external mechanical impacts for enclosures. Very similar to IP rating, IK rating is typically used for enclosures that hold electrical equipment and is rated on a scale between IK00, meaning no protection, and IK10 is the highest protection against 20 joules of impact.
Rugged RFID tags are can be IK rated and certified because, at the core they are RFID inlays/labels with a specialized, rugged enclosure. That enclosure is then rated for impact protection for rugged/harsh environments.
An example of an RFID tag that is IK Rated and Certified is the HID Global IronTag 206 RFID Tag
• ARC Certified – ARC Certified is a broad term that can be used to describe two unique certifications used by the ARC RFID Lab at Auburn University for quality or performance. The ARC program has created a specific testing process for RFID tags that determines if they are ideal for a specific environment. These tests are vendor-agnostic, and once a test has been created for a specific application, RFID tag manufacturers can send their RFID tags to the ARC Program to be tested and possible certified.
o ARC Quality Certified – If an RFID tag manufacturer has been ARC Quality Certified, that means that the manufacturer uses a vetted QMS program and has been audited for quality manufacturing by the ARC program. An example of an RFID manufacturer with an ARC Quality Certification is Smartrac, read more here.
o ARC Inlay Enrollment Certification – If an RFID inlay has been enrolled into the ARC program, it can receive a certification for enrollment. Enrolling an RFID inlay in the ARC program indicates that the inlay has gone through a broad set of performance testing and also is enrolled in ARC’s Performance Library. An enrolled inlay is automatically approved for any ARC performance specs for which it meets the requirements. An example of an RFID inlay that has been tested by and enrolled into the ARC Performance Data Library is the Zebra ZBR2000, read more here.
o ARC Category or Spec Approved (or Certified) – If an RFID inlay has been Approved for a certain Category or Spec that means that the tag has been validated against one of their current specs and met all requirements. An example of an RFID tag that has been approved against specs by the ARC Program is the Alien Squiggle RFID Tag.
• AEI/ATA & AAR Certified – Often referred to as certifications, AEI/ATA protocols are actually standards set by the America Trucking Association. The ATA protocol applied to the trucking industry, while the AAR protocol governs the railway industry.
If an RFID tag or RFID reader is AEI/ATA or AAR approved that means that the tag or reader has been approved to work well in the trucking or railway industry. Some RFID reader manufacturers, for example JADAK RFID, also offer an option with their readers to pre-install a protocol license upon ordering.
An example of an RFID Reader that can be pre-installed with an AEI/ATA protocol is the JADAK Izar 4-Port RFID Reader.
For more information on one specific certification or about RFID equipment that has been certified, comment below or contact us!
To learn more about RFID tags, check out the links below!