RFID Solutions and Their Basic Components
While the importance of the barcode is indisputable, it’s no longer the only asset management solution. Today, many businesses are making the move to RFID for their enterprise needs. RFID (radio frequency identification) solutions have become an increasingly appealing alternative to barcode technology.
They can be used to generate large volumes of information in a variety of applications and unlike bar codes, RFID tags can be read from up to 10 to 15 feet away – meaning they do not need to be in plain sight of the reader. In order to provide this automatic data collection, RFID solutions consist of a few small but key components, including the following:
Most RFID solutions include tags that are attached to each item that is being tracked. The tags typically consist of tiny microchips (sometimes referred to as an integrated circuit or IC), which are connected to an antenna coil. The microchips or “ICs” in RFID tags contain memory, which store the product’s unique information such as its electronic product code (EPC).
RFID readers are the devices used to read the data embedded within tags. Readers work by using an antenna to send queries, power, data and commands to the tags. Different RFID solutions will come equipped with different types of readers. For example, some may be fixed (mounted to specific locations) while others are mobile (handheld). Additionally, some readers are read-only while others have the ability to read as well as write new information.
As mentioned above, antennas are a key component of both the tags and the readers – they are what the two parts use to communicate with one another. The maximum distance the antennas can have between each other is known as the “read range” and it is determined by the size and shape of the reader’s antenna.
The last piece of an RFID solution is the software. The software attached to your RFID system is what will allow you to effectively access and organize the data you collect. The software component is also where the versatility of RFID solutions really shine, as programs can be found in a variety of industry specific forms and can be customized to your specific use.
While the barcode scanner may have revolutionized the way we do business, RFID solutions continue to make their mark as a significant asset management resource for businesses across a variety of industries.