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The variety of identification applications using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags is endless – from animals to automation to waste management.
RFID contactless security solutions record performance, track and report trends, keep records, identify outliers and automate information collection. A fully automated RFID system built on secure contactless RFID technology from ASSA ABLOY Group company HID Global can help ensure seamless traceability, tracking and recording that enables organizations to reduce losses and human handling errors while enhancing processing speeds or providing compliance information.
HID Global designs and delivers a full range of RFID system components including tags, antennae and readers in frequencies ranging from low and high frequency to UHF. For contactless and contact based payment or access control, HID offers multi-application and technology convergence components compliant with major standards.
Any reader using the appropriate RF signal can get the RFID tag to communicate its components. A wide range of powerful, versatile RFID readers are available today.
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What is RFID?
RFID is an acronym for “radio-frequency identification” and refers to a technology whereby digital data encoded in RFID tags or smart labels (defined below) are captured by a reader via radio waves. RFID is similar to barcoding in that data from a tag or label are captured by a device that stores the data in a database. RFID, however, has several advantages over systems that use barcode asset tracking software. The most notable is that RFID tag data can be read outside the line-of-sight, whereas barcodes must be aligned with an optical scanner. If you are considering implementing an RFID solution, take the next step and contact the RFID experts at AB&R® (American Barcode and RFID).
How does RFID work?
RFID belongs to a group of technologies referred to as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC). AIDC methods automatically identify objects, collect data about them, and enter those data directly into computer systems with little or no human intervention. RFID methods utilize radio waves to accomplish this. At a simple level, RFID systems consist of three components: an RFID tag or smart label, an RFID reader, and an antenna. RFID tags contain an integrated circuit and an antenna, which are used to transmit data to the RFID reader (also called an interrogator). The reader then converts the radio waves to a more usable form of data. Information collected from the tags is then transferred through a communications interface to a host computer system, where the data can be stored in a database and analyzed at a later time.
RFID Tags and Smart Labels
As stated above, an RFID tag consists of an integrated circuit and an antenna. The tag is also composed of a protective material that holds the pieces together and shields them from various environmental conditions. The protective material depends on the application. For example, employee ID badges containing RFID tags are typically made from durable plastic, and the tag is embedded between the layers of plastic. RFID tags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are either passive or active. Passive tags are the most widely used, as they are smaller and less expensive to implement. Passive tags must be “powered up” by the RFID reader before they can transmit data. Unlike passive tags, active RFID tags have an onboard power supply (e.g., a battery), thereby enabling them to transmit data at all times. For a more detailed discussion, refer to this article: Passive RFID Tags vs. Active RFID Tags.
Smart labels differ from RFID tags in that they incorporate both RFID and barcode technologies. They’re made of an adhesive label embedded with an RFID tag inlay, and they may also feature a barcode and/or other printed information. Smart labels can be encoded and printed on-demand using desktop label printers, whereas programming RFID tags are more time consuming and requires more advanced equipment.
RFID technology is employed in many industries to perform such tasks as:
– Inventory management
– Asset tracking
– Personnel tracking
– Controlling access to restricted areas
– ID Badging
– Supply chain management
– Counterfeit prevention (e.g. in the pharmaceutical industry)
Whether or not RFID compliance is required, applications that currently use barcode technology are good candidates for upgrading to a system that uses RFID or some combination of the two. RFID offers many advantages over the barcode, particularly the fact that an RFID tag can hold much more data about an item than a barcode can. In addition, RFID tags are not susceptible to the damages that may be incurred by barcode labels, like ripping and smearing.
From the read distance to the types of tags available, RFID has come a long way since World War II and there is a bright future ahead. Review the evolution of RFID.
Here are a few of RFID’s helpful features and functions:
- Tags can trigger alarms when moved
- Communication between readers and tags is not contingent upon orientation
- Data can be automatically read and stored
- Tags can carry unique or standardized product codes
- Items can be individually labeled, but read in mass
- Tag data is compatible with WMS and ERP systems
- Tags are difficult to reproduce/counterfeit
What is the difference between RFID Scanner and barcode technology?
Barcode and RFID share similar functionalities, but they have one distinct difference: human intervention, or “line of sight.” This refers to the distance between the operator of the data collection device (barcode scanner or RFID reader) and the labeled or tagged item — in other words, whether or not they are close enough to the item to see it.
To get a good barcode read, operators must position their handheld scanner within the line of sight of the item. To collect data using RFID technology, operators are not as limited — they simply need to be within the range of the tag. This means that employees can collect data for any item within the read range without physically moving from shelf to shelf. This also means that more than one item can be read at once. For those reasons, many companies are looking to RFID to add even more value to their operations.
What are the benefits of using RFID?
With RFID, supply chain businesses can track the movement of their inventory items and assets. By eliminating labor-intensive inventory tracking processes that require human intervention and increasing visibility of your items and assets, RFID can help businesses cut costs related to manufacturing, distribution, inventory management, and asset tracking.
RFID automates your data collection process so that your employees can eliminate time-consuming procedures and spend more time on what’s important: customer service, shipping, and picking.
An automated data collection system — especially one that does not require human intervention — improves speed and accuracy so that employees can get more done in a shorter amount of time (and get it done right the first time). Because of this, RFID allows businesses to decrease their labor costs. And with improved accuracy, businesses can also increase their throughput, and therefore reduce their inventory carrying costs as well.
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