RFID 101

Radio-frequency identification (RFID), is a technology like barcoding. But RFID systems are able to store much more information than traditional barcodes. So how does RFID work? Let’s take a crash course into RFID 101 and find out.
Does putting data into computers with little human intervention sounds appealing? If so, radio-frequency identification may be for you.
Parts of an RFID System
RFID is a system consisting of a RFID tag or smart label, a RFID reader, also called an interrogator, and an antenna. The tag contains a circuit and an antenna, which transfers information to the reader.
Then the reader converts the information to a more usable form of data. In turn, this information is then transferred to a computer database with a software.
Types of RFID Tags
There are two types of RFID tags: active and passive. Active RFID tags have a transmitter and a power source, typically a battery, to broadcast a signal to a reader. In contrast,  passive RFID tags do not have a battery. Instead, they draw power from the reader. Also, semi-passive tags use a battery to power the chip, but communicate by drawing power from the reader.
Active tags have a longer read range than passive tags. Active tags can be read from a distance of 1,500 feet away, or more. 
Benefits of RFID
Now that we know how RFID systems work, let’s talk about why your company would want to use an RFID system. In the fast-moving consumer goods industry, your company needs to be just that, fast.
Many manufacturers need to count products several times during the span of one day. RFID allows you to complete product counts in seconds. This decreases the amount of manual work, and in turn, reduces costs.
Also, RFID scanners do not have to be in the line of sight of the tag, and the scanners can also read more than one tag at a time. RFID may be useful in supply chain management through inventory control or asset tracking in manufacturing or warehouse environments.
As we mentioned, RFID systems are able to contain much more information than a bar code. For example:
  • Real-time movement of products
  • Amount of time needed for production
  • Which machines have and haven’t gone under maintenance
Some more benefits of an RFID system include:
  • Accuracy
  • Efficiency
  • Quickening of the manufacturing process
  • Greater visibility
  • Improved planning
Disadvantages of RFID
Although RFID has many pros, it also comes with some cons. Some of these include:
  • Limitations of type of materials 
  • Cost of development can be high
  • Incompatible standards across tag type, industries, and different countries
A critical element of the RFID system is the middleware (software)
Middleware aggregates, manipulates, and analyzes tag data. Without software, you’re just reading tags, not putting that data to use!
RFID Experts Working for You
Radley can provide the middleware along with the best hardware for your system. Contact a Radley product specialist today for more information on RFID solutions.
Written by Radley Corporation