Now that the cost of RFID tags and technologies has dropped considerably, many companies are adopting RFID to completely automate their asset tracking and locationing.
Unlike barcodes, which require line-of-sight scanning, RFID uses printed tags that contain transmitters and unique IDs. Tags are read remotely with a handheld or fixed RFID reader, so you can locate and identify an item without physically seeing it and scan many items with a single read.
For example, instead of spending days conducting a physical inventory, a complete inventory count can be completed in minutes or hours. With fixed RFID readers, you can even identify and track assets with no human effort as they pass by readers strategically located in your facility.
RFID is a great solution for manufacturing traceability, such as a recent deployment we helped launch for Kenworth. Using RFID, Kenworth now tracks and locates every truck as it comes off the assembly line and wherever it goes throughout its massive complex. The solution gives workers complete visibility into the status and location of each truck, so they can quickly find it for inspection, finish work, and final sale.
With as many as 500 trucks on Kenmore’s production lot at any given time, RFID saves an enormous amount of time spent driving around and looking for numbers or barcodes on a windshield.
Another example is an RFID deployment we managed for a utility company in the Caribbean which was having difficulty tracking high-value equipment stored outdoors. Once it switched to RFID tags and readers, the company was able to track and locate every piece of equipment and have real-time visibility into all of its assets and their locations.
Active vs. Passive RFID
The reading range for RFID tags depends on the type of tag you use. The demands of your specific application will determine the type of tag you will need.
Active RFID tags include a transmitter and battery. The battery runs the microchip’s circuitry and broadcasts a signal to your RFID reader. This allows tags to be read over long ranges, but it also makes them more expensive, so they’re mainly used to track high-value assets.
Passive tags have no battery and draw their power from your reader, which sends out electromagnetic waves that induce a current in the tag’s antenna. This means they have a shorter read range, but it also makes them more economical. This is why passive tags are used in most applications, especially those involving lower-cost assets.
Reading & Writing RFID Tags
RFID tags are usually read/write or read-only. Read/write tags allow data to be updated or written to the tag, such as maintaining a history of asset movement. Read-only tags contain an ID and can’t be updated or overwritten with data.
RFID Readers & Antennas
Whatever RFID tags you choose, you’ll need the right devices to read and communicate with them. Zebra Technologies is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of RFID readers in a variety of form factors.
One such form factor is an industrial handheld RFID reader, such as Zebra’s MC9190-Z. This rugged gun-style device reads, writes, and locates RFID tags; scans barcodes; and runs business-critical software applications.
Zebra also offers fixed RFID readers with companion antennas. You can place these readers and antennas above doorways, in aisles, or wherever assets move or may be located throughout your facility.
Learning More About RFID for Your Business
The right RFID options depend on the assets you need to track as well as your budget and environment.
To get a free consultation to help answer your questions and evaluate RFID for your business, contact our RFID experts at TPI. Call 614-227-7000, visit www.tpi1.com, or email Sales@tpi1.com.