What Is RFID?
Radio Frequency IDentification is a technology that allows almost any object to be wirelessly identified using data transmitted via radio waves.
Benefits of RFID
The ability to identify and track individual items, as well as crates of items, without line of sight can be an advantage for many companies across almost any vertical. For example, if a company has 5,000 identical plastic crates, an RFID tag can be placed on each one in order to recognize crate 1,948 from crate 3,097 without requiring line of sight. Identifying these crates can be crucial to the company’s bottom line when one is carrying valuable merchandise or a customer’s order. That company needs to not only keep track of that merchandise or order, but also potentially the crate itself, if it is one of the company’s assets. RFID can be used to locate and track these assets. Below are some additional benefits of using RFID:
· RFID doesn’t need line of sight
· RFID tags are able to be rewritten and reused
· RFID tags can be extremely durable against impact and environmental factors
· RFID tag data is encrypted and can also be locked for extra security
· RFID tags can hold more data than other types of tags or labels
· RFID readers can read hundreds of tags within seconds
· RFID tags can have information printed on them like instructions, barcodes, or company names
· RFID systems can be integrated with other internal systems or processes
What Makes Up an RFID System?
Several pieces of hardware are involved in creating a working RFID system. If a system is set up properly with the correct equipment and thoroughly tested and tuned, then it should be able to read moving or stationary tags with near 100% efficiency. Below are the different parts that make up a UHF RFID system.
Reader – An RFID reader is the “brain” of the system. Readers can be programmed to only read certain RFID tags, read tags at a certain time, read tags once in inventory mode, or read tags over and over to gauge specific information. Readers vary from around a few hundred dollars for a simple reader/writer to over several thousand dollars for a complex, high-performance reader.
Antenna – RFID antennas actually send the RF energy to the RFID tags in order to energize them and then listen to receive the tag’s reply. They are connected to the RFID reader using a coaxial cable, and function like a reader’s “arm” to send and receive information.
Tags – RFID tags are placed on objects and, unless they are active RFID tags, wait to be read or interrogated by the reader. Tags have one or more memory banks to store various information and unique identifiers.
Cables – Coaxial cables connect the reader and antenna allowing the reader to send commands via RF energy to the antenna. RFID cables vary in terms of connectors, length, and insulation rating – each which is important to understand for an application’s success.
Auxiliary Items – Depending on how complex an RFID system is, additional items can be added for ease-of-use or additional functionality. Those items include antenna mounting brackets, RFID printers, GPIO adapters, and portals.
Software – Some type of software is necessary in any RFID system. Whether it is just firmware and a basic software program, or firmware, middleware, and complex software – some type of software must be present in order for the hardware to perform even basic functions.