Introduction to RFID





RFID technology has been gracing the covers of newspapers and magazines throughout the world recently and all of the attention is creating a buzz about the latest technology.  Standardization and adoption of RFID by large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target has also helped generate interest and has many businesses wondering if they should adopt RFID technology as well.  Although the interest in RFID is new, the technology has in fact been around longer than barcodes.  It’s most likely a part of your life already and you’ve never really noticed.  The EZ-pass that pays your tolls or clothing tags that catch shoplifters are just two examples you’ve probably seen.  But do you really know what it is, how it works and what it’s capable of?   

Radio Frequency Identification, commonly known as RFID is a data collection method that utilizes low power radio waves to send and receive data between tags and readers.  RFID eliminates the need for a direct line of sight to the tag in order to read it, which offers numerous benefits that a barcode is incapable of providing.  RFID tags can be active or passive, active tags require an internal power source and passive tags rely on a reader to supply power.  RFID tags also come in read-only or read/write varieties, I’ll explain the different types of tags in more detail later this week. RFID tags have far more capability than barcodes and an average RFID tag has a capacity of 2KB of data.  RFID readers can simultaneously read and communicate to hundreds of tags within their field and all of this is possible in seconds.

But RFID won’t be the end for barcodes; in fact the two technologies can work together to improve business.  Companies who already operate with barcodes or other types of auto-ID can use RFID to enhance operations.  RFID still has a wealth of untapped potential that integration with other technologies and software can draw upon.  Currently RFID technology is capable of

  • Increasing efficiency
  • Providing a high level of data integrity
  • Lowering costs
  • Delivering goods faster
  • Increasing accuracy
  • Providing inventory visibility

All of these benefits support supply chain efficiency, something companies strive for and one of the determining factors of success in today’s competitive business environment.  Even with all of these benefits, adoption of RFID is moving slowly, but remember the business world went through a similar process during the adoption of the barcode.  I’ll be focusing on a variety of RFID topics this week, so you can see if adoption of RFID is right for you and your business, but for now, if you want additional information about anything I’ve mentioned please contact us.