You may have heard that RFID is the next big thing and how it will replace existing identification tools such as the barcode. The main aim of this post is to understand what RFID is along with its advantages and disadvantages.
What is RFID?
RFID is short for radio frequency identification and it is a small electronic device consisting of a small chip and antenna which can convey information. The main purpose of RFID is to help you identify or track a specific product, animal or even person using radio frequency signals.
How does RFID work?
The process of how RFID tracks your products is fairly simple.
- Just like a barcode, you would attach the RFID label or tag to your product.
- The tag would be scanned in order to read the information contained in it.
- A radio frequency signal is generated by the tag which is picked up by the receiver. This is usually called the RFID reader.
- This signal is then decoded by the receiver and the data contained within your tag is revealed.
Different Types of RFID Tags
There are two types of RFID tags, passive and active tags. The main difference between these two tags is the distance you can scan the tags. Passive tags can be scanned from 5cm – 5m away whereas active tags can be scanned up to 100m or more. This is because active RFID tags have their own power source whereas passive tags become active when they receive a signal from the reader.
RFID tags are then broken up into different frequencies which are tuned to receive different frequency channels. The three main frequencies are; low frequency, high frequency and ultra high frequency.
More information about the different frequencies will be made available in a separate blog post.
Advantages of RFID
- You can read more than one tag at once.
- RFID tags can be read at greater distances.
- RFID tags can be placed on the inside of the product, reducing the wear and tear of the tag as well as increasing the security of the tag.
- You can write to an RFID tag which means it is re-usable.
- You can track the status of your product in real time to see when it has been delivered or when it has been sold.
Disadvantages of RFID
- Cost – If you are dealing with low cost products, you would have to ask if it is cheaper to use a barcode.
- Certain materials e.g. metals and liquids can cause problems when trying to read the radio frequency signals.
- The fact multiple RFID tags can be read at once could cause problems. There may be cases where you have multiple products with multiple tags and sometimes you only want to read one of the tags. With a barcode, it is simple you would only scan the label you want to read and ignore the rest. This is not the case with RFID.
Overall, the future for RFID is looking bright. There are amazing possibilities being opened up by this technology and it is only a matter of time before it revolutionises the supply chain.
If you would like more information about RFID, keep an eye on our latest blog post as we will be posting more about this topic.