Radio frequency identification (RFID) systems have come a long way since their first use in World War II, when they were used for determining which planes were friendly or hostile. They are now used in a variety of industries, including retail, and have a wide range of applications.
What is an RFID System?
An RFID system is a tracking and identification system that uses radio waves and electromagnetic fields to automatically track and identify tags attached to objects. As the name suggests, these systems are usually made using a radio transmitter and receiver, and a radio transponder.
Tagging items with RFID tags allows you to track assets and inventory. Modern RFID systems, in contrast to their predecessors, which required tagged items to be within the system’s line of sight, take this cutting-edge auto-ID technology to the next level by allowing tags to be read within a reading range. The “read range” of an RFID system can range from a few centimeters to more than 20 meters, depending on the type of RFID.
This means that RFID systems will continue to improve over time, and the best part is that the cost of using and implementing an RFID system will continue to fall, making RFID systems the more efficient and cost-effective automatic-ID technology for many businesses.
How Does an RFID System Work?
An RFID system is made by combining very simple technologies: an RFID tag (or transponder) and a reader. The RFID tag is made up of a microchip that contains data that can be used to identify a product, an object, or person, as well as an antenna that transmits this data to the reader.
Communication between the RFID system in Dubai (or wherever you are located) and the tagged items happens via radio waves or electromagnetic fields. In other words, the antenna transmits data from the tagged item through radio waves and then the reader converts this data into usable information.
Please keep in mind that an RFID system is not the same as a magnetic stripe or barcode technology; RFID tags can be read anywhere within the magnetic field sent out by the reader. Barcodes, on the other hand, are read when they are within range of the magnetic stripe system. Also, the radio waves sent by RFID software can be read and travel through a wide range of non-metallic objects.
Types of RFID Systems
RFID systems are classified into two types: passive systems and active systems.
Passive RFID Systems
Passive RFID systems are the most common RFID in use. In this type of system, the RFID reader transmits an energy field that “awakens” the transponder and provides the power for the tag to respond to the reader.
When jolted by the electromagnetic pulse from the RFID reader, the transponder then transmits the data it contains, which is typically an identifying inventory number, back to the reader.
Things to Note About Passive RFID Systems
- Depending on the type of tag antenna they come with, this type of RFID system can be very small.
- Passive transponders do not have batteries and are powered solely by the reader.
- The RFID reader emits electromagnetic/radio waves that cause current to flow through the tags.
- Passive RFID systems are relatively inexpensive; it is, therefore, appropriate for everyday use.
- Because these passive tags are powered by the reader, they have shorter read ranges.
Active RFID Systems
Tags in active RFID systems are battery powered to increase their effective read range and to support additional features not available in passive tags, such as a temperature sensor.
However, unlike passive RFID systems, which are frequently wireless, data collected from active tags is transmitted to a host computer, either wirelessly or via cables, for storage, action, and interpretation.
Things to Note About Active RFID Systems
- Active RFID tags work independently, so the tags themselves can transmit and receive data.
- They are only operational as long as the battery in the transponder is charged.
- Active RFID tags are physically larger and more expensive than passive tags because they transmit data over a greater distance.
The Benefits of the RFID Technology
RFID technology provides a number of benefits that can assist any organization or business in improving its overall performance. This is especially important in today’s economy, where productivity inefficiencies can mean the difference between a company’s loss and profit.
Businesses can use an RFID system to automate data and inventory capture tasks, as well as reduce shrinkage through better inventory movement monitoring. RFID operates in real-time, allowing businesses to take immediate action while also increasing process automation and accuracy by reducing manual processes.
Modern Applications of RFID Systems
RFID is used in a variety of industries differently. However, RFID is generally used where there is a high volume of items with high selectivity (a variety of colors, styles, and sizes) being moved out and into an area, or to track high-value and sensitive items.
RFID was initially used in retail, but its applications are now expanding beyond retail to other parts of the supply chain. The reason is simple, despite the fact that the technology can be used to label products and people, RFID chips can hold more information, making them useful for identifying assets.
RFID tags can also be programmed, customized, encrypted, and password-protected, making them suitable for secure applications in retail, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, and transportation. Here’s how each industry is making use of RFID:
- Retail: RFID is being used to reduce out-of-stock items, improve inventory visibility, omnichannel enablement, loss prevention, and improve customer experience in conjunction with people counting data.
- Healthcare: RFID is being used for inventory visibility, asset tracking, billing and processing, and locationing
- Manufacturing: RFID is used to track work-in-process (WIP), parts inventory, products, vehicles, and employees, as well as returnable transit items (RTIs).
- Logistics and Transportation: RFID is used in materials management; airline baggage tracking; supply chain, field mobility (service replenishment and fulfillment), management and tracking, yard and vehicle management; asset tracking, utilization and analysis.
The Future of RFID Systems
RFID is continuing to expand into a wide range of applications and vertical markets due to its well-known and documented business value. As a result of this expansion, industries have begun to create and implement usage standards for this technology. These standards cover a wide range of protocols and form factors tailored to a specific use.
In addition, as other technologies are integrated into RFID systems, complete business solutions are continually being developed and standardized. This bodes well for RFID and indicates the role it will continue to play in various industries.