The basic components of a fully functional RFID system include tag chips, tag antennas, readers, and reader antennas, as well as reader control and application software. And increasingly, RFID tagging is used in supply chain and asset management as an alternative to barcoding. Though more expensive than standard barcode stickers, it is a much more durable means of tracking as the stickers do not wear or fall off over time.If you have any of the following problems or requirements for business, you may consider implementing an RFID tagging system which could greatly improve production, management and tracking. The uses of RFID systems are endless, and can stretch about as far as your imagination. Here are just a few examples:
- Automate inventory and asset-tracking in healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and business sectors
- Prevent use of counterfeit products in the supply chain
- Wirelessly lock, unlock and configure electronic devices
- Tracking movement, feeding schedules or health of animals or livestock
- Assisting those with disabilities, such as building an audio navigation system for the visually impaired. See the demonstration in the YouTube video below:
Types of RFID Systems
ActiveTags that have their own transmitter and power source are classified as active RDIF systems. Active tags broadcast their own signal constantly in order to transmit their information to the reader. In general, active tags are used on large objects, such as rail cars, big reusable containers, and other assets that need to be tracked over long distances of up to 100 metres.
Active tags can be broken up into transponders or beacons. Transponders are tags that power up and transmit information to a reader only when a signal from the reader is received. Beacons are most commonly used in real-time locating systems in order to track the exact location of assets continuously. Here, the beacons emit a pre-set signal (hourly, weekly, etc.) without needing the reader to activate usage.
In passive RFID systems, the reader and reader antenna send a radio signal to the tag. Their system ranges are limited to the power of the transmission from reader to tag, and therefore can only be activated through a range of less than 10 metres. For a passive RFID system, all that’s required is the chip and the antenna, making them much cheaper than an active system which would also require a power source for usage.
Passive RFID solutions are beneficial for many applications, and are commonly installed to track goods in the supply chain, to record assets in the retail industry, to verify products such as pharmaceuticals, and to embed RFID capability in a variety of devices. Passive RFID can even be used in warehouses and distribution centres, in spite of its shorter range, by setting up readers at intervals to monitor asset movement or even to assist in an assembly line of the manufacturing of a product.