MSU’s Axia Institute Launches Lab to Improve Supply Chain Issues

Michigan State University’s Axia Institute in Midland has created the Axia Lab, a research and consulting service that is designed to improve supply chains via radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged item assessments, testing, compliance, and technical implementations.
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MSU’s Axia Institute in Midland has created the Axia Lab to improve RFID use in supply chains. // Courtesy of MSU
MSU’s Axia Institute in Midland has created the Axia Lab to improve RFID use in supply chains. // Courtesy of MSU

Michigan State University’s Axia Institute in Midland has created the Axia Lab, a research and consulting service that is designed to improve supply chains via radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged item assessments, testing, compliance, and technical implementations.

“The Axia Lab was created to empower RFID innovation and collaboration across the supply chain,” says John D. Hatfield, executive director of the Axia Institute. “Our mission is to collaborate with industry to help enable the future of RFID-enabled technology, solving some of supply chain’s greatest challenges — from smart packaging, serialization and traceability, and risk mitigation, to data analytics and security.”

Beginning with the pharmaceutical industry, Axia Lab conducts testing and validation of tagged items according to GS1’s Tagged-Item Performance Protocol (TIPP) testing, to ensure that serialization using RFID-tags is deployed using a globally accepted standard.

Axia Lab’s testing is designed to eliminate the need for in-house tag performance tests along with the associated resources, time, and expense. TIPP is a standardized test method that can be repeated and independently verified by all stakeholders, providing performance grades for tagged items, not only tags or inlays.

The grades enable stakeholders to communicate their actual tagging requirements more accurately. TIPP makes RFID characterization easy for the end user, as dBm levels, orientation pattern, detuning, and proximity effects are all included in a grade. For example, acquiring a TIPP grade of “S05V” includes all necessary requirements.

“RFID is an important element of supply chain traceability,” says Bahar Aliakbarian, a supply chain management research associate professor at MSU and the Axia Institute’s director of research and development. “Particularly, in the health care supply chain, implementation of RFID can help improve patient safety, save hospitals, companies, and other organizations thousands of dollars in theft and counterfeit prevention, save hundreds of work hours in stocktaking, and reduce a myriad of misidentification issues.

“But this can’t be done alone. Our lab serves as a neutral exploration ground, collaborating with industry and globally recognized academic researchers to develop new protocols and ensure compliance with global, consistent standards, simplifying and speeding up RFID deployments. Our access to the highly sophisticated equipment and researchers at the national top-ranked MSU School of Packaging, Supply Chain Management, and Engineering makes us unique for this mission.”

Fresenius Kabi, a global health care company that specializes in medicines and technologies for infusion, transfusion, and clinical nutrition, has recently partnered with Axia Lab to test their +RFID smart-labeled portfolio of medications.

“For Fresenius Kabi, working with the Axia Lab is another way we can help hospitals fulfill their mission of patient care and safety,” says Gwen Volpe, director of medication technology at Fresenius Kabi USA. “RFID-enabled products must exhibit high performance, quality and reliability. Axia’s testing protocols ensure that +RFID smart-labeled products have gone through the rigor of a comprehensive performance analysis and are tested in real-life scenarios using accepted GS1 global standards.”

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