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CSE Colloquium Series: Robb Clarke

CSE Colloquium Series



Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) & Packaging


Dr. Robb Clarke

Auto-ID Research & Testing Center
MSU School of Packaging

Friday, January 18, 2008
Talk: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
3105 Engineering

Host: Alex Liu


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is a tool that enables companies to efficiently track products in their supply chain. When working optimally, RFID can provide valuable information regarding inventory data and shipment locations. However, tag readability issues exist due to a variety of reasons: product and package interference, RFID equipment set-up locations, and even frequency allocations, depending on the country of use.

In this presentation, the effectiveness of data collection and processing is evaluated when examining tags and readers from several vendors in a variety of scenarios. Previous work has demonstrated the impact of product materials, package materials, package shape, type of readers and tags, and speed of movement on data collection and processing.

The MSU Auto-ID Research & Testing Center (AIRTC) has been established to conduct such tests and has several projects completed that gave rise to development of ASTM Standards. The MSU lab is set up and arranged to evaluate data collection, analysis, and processing of multiple vendors in different scenarios. Furthermore, preliminary tests for finding and validating case "hot spots" will be discussed.


Michigan State University was the first university to create a Packaging undergraduate degree, in 1952, and was the first to offer a PhD in Packaging in 1996. Since it's beginning, the MSU School of Packaging has conferred over 7,000 Bachelor of Science degrees and 200 Master's degrees. Today, there are around 550 undergraduates, 100 Master's and 25 PhD students.

Dr. Robb Clarke is an Associate Professor in Packaging at MSU. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on RFID and Packaging, Packaging Operations and Quality Issues, Material Handling and Distribution Packaging, and Supply Chain Issues. His teaching experience includes 4 years in Packaging at San Jose State University, 10 years at MSU, and various courses and seminars for industry and educational facilities.

He has a B.S. degree in Packaging from MSU, a M.B.A. in Marketing from Golden Gate University, a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from University of Missouri-Rolla, and a 2-year Willett Visiting Scholar research position in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, England.

Prior to teaching, he had a 17-year industrial career with Hunt-Wesson Foods (now Con-Agra), Lansmont Corporation (a machine manufacturer for package testing), and Clarke Consulting (a packaging and operations consulting firm). At Michigan State, his primary research area is radio frequency identification (RFID) for manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and retail applications.

Dr. Clarke began research into RFID in 1997 and founded the MSU Auto-ID Testing Laboratory in 1999. The lab utilizes undergraduate and graduate students for independent testing and research projects involving Auto-ID technologies. In 2004, he developed the course "RFID and Packaging" for undergraduates and graduate students. This was the first such course offered in the United States.

Current testing and research projects are funded through Temple-Inland Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the Consortium for Food and Pharmaceutical Packaging Research, and public and private organizations. Robb also chairs the ASTM work groups on RFID and Cased Goods and RFID and Pallet Loads, and is an active member on the EPCglobal Packaging Action Group. Dr. Clarke's background and research in RFID have resulted in extensive worldwide speaking engagements as well as numerous publications.