The Benefits of RFID Tagging for the Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry is a highly regulated market that deals in high-value items including cannabis plants, by-products, finished products, and shipping units. Efficiently tracking each item requires a solution that meets the unique challenges and compliance requirements of the industry. RFID tagging offers a range of benefits for cannabis organizations to track, trace and protect assets more accurately.
In the U.S., state regulatory systems are informally categorized as “metrc” and “non-metrc.” “Metrc” stands for marijuana enforcement, tracking, reporting, and compliance and is one of three major regulatory software frameworks that states leverage to ensure compliance by the growers and other operators handling cannabis products. Metrc states require and supply RFID tags pre-encoded and pre-printed for use with plants and packages, whereas other regulatory software frameworks do not. Growers, processors, and dispensaries in non-metrc states can select their own tracking technology.
Enhanced Tracking with a Move to RFID
Because of its unique tagging technology, RFID tracking is a great solution for the cannabis industry. Because many cannabis companies don’t understand the benefits of RFID they opt for traditional barcode systems to keep track of everything.
While metrc state operators must use the designated metrc RFID tags, most growers, processors, and dispensaries do not take full advantage of the technology. Instead, they utilize RFID only in connection with state reporting requirements. With a more advanced implementation of RFID, the metrc tags could be leveraged for integration into the company’s ERP system to provide real-time business intelligence beyond regulatory compliance.
The Benefits of RFID
RFID technology presents many benefits:
- Item-Level Tracking: RFID can provide item-level tracking of individual high-value assets with real-time reporting back to the respective regulatory body. RFID is an ideal auto ID technology to provide functionality with the ability to track each individual item.
- Bulk Reading: RFID has the capability to bulk read thousands of tags (items) in minutes without the physical line-of-sight needed with traditional barcodes. This is unlike manual and barcode-based tracking and inventory operations that can take hours or even days to complete.
- Improve Accuracy and Reduce Errors: RFID provides a dramatic increase in accuracy and corresponding reduction in errors, which improves efficiency and ROI. Barcodes are easy to miss, easy to double scan, and can be obscured by dirt and grime. With a properly implemented RFID solution, companies can expect a rate of accuracy greater than 99%.
- Real-Time Locating Services (RTLS): Most modern RFID systems support some type of “Geiger counter” or dashboard functionality to locate items within a meter or two, making it easier to find specific items amidst a large inventory.
Cannabis Specific RFID Applications
The types of applications listed below can be integrated with a company’s daily operations using a well-designed RFID solution:
- Plant maturity/lifecycle management
- Unique weight capture at harvest and during processing
- General plant and package inventory
- Real-time location
- Item movement
- Item destruction
- Parent-child relationships as plants are transformed from one product to another
- Order fulfillment
- Shipping and receiving
Print RFID Labels In-House
RFID plant stakes, wrap-tags, and other tag types used in the cannabis industry can be difficult to print and encode with a traditional RFID-enabled printer. The tags can be relatively thick, stiff, and have unforgiving edges. With the TSC Printronix Auto ID T6000e and T4000 Series enterprise-grade RFID printers, you don’t have to worry about any of that. These printers work right out of the box and offer a robust in-house printing solution to leverage RFID technology with the ability to print and encode RFID standard labels, plant tags, and even on-metal tags. The T6000e also comes in a 6-inch model, which can handle plant stakes up to 6.8 inches in width.
These RFID printers are available with our Try and Buy program to minimize your risk. You can also talk to one of our printer experts to determine the best printer solution for your application.