Concepts such as digitalization, IOT, industry 4.0, or traceability, are heard more and more frequently among the most diverse sectors. One of the motor technologies for achieving traceability and the digitalization of processes is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), a wireless communication system that operates through radio signals.
There are a number of different RFID systems, but they all have these fundamental elements in common:
In previous articles, we have answered questions such as "What is RFID?"; so in this one, we will explain what RFID tags are, what they are made of, and their most common applications.
With the rapid advancement of technology, new functions, applications, and terms constantly emerge, such as "traceability", "Industry 4.0", or "digitization". All these new tools are gradually being introduced into many sectors. The application we want to discuss today is RFID tags.
Their multiple types and easy use, among other aspects, make them the ideal option for many sectors. Since we have already explained what RFID is in another post, today we will focus on the tags of this technology, their composition, and their most common applications.
RFID labels are a simple way to identify a product or object so that it can be wirelessly detected, ensuring traceability. An RFID tag is a small, intelligent device that stores data and can transmit it through radio-frequency signals. The information and traceability it sends about a product can be quickly and automatically captured by a signal receiver.
Despite their small size, they can encode a large amount of information about a product throughout the supply chain. Their data storage capacity allows the item they reference to be traced from the raw material supplier to the arrival of the product at the point of sale, thanks to radio frequency. Company workers can check in real-time and whenever needed all the information contained in the RFID tags. These tags help with stock management, replenishment, and sorting of merchandise.
RFID tags are the foundation of the eponymous system, so selecting the most suitable one for the product is crucial for the system's proper functioning. Each tag has a chip and an antenna. The combination of the RFID chip and antenna is called the RFID inlay. There are three types of RFID tags, with different features and specifications. Their differences lie in whether or not they have their own power source:
RFID tags are composed of 3 main elements, which must be of very high quality to ensure the functionality of the components:
It is essential to select an appropriate RFID tag for the product and the environment in which it will be used. That's why there are different types of tags based on their application. At Dipole, we work with the necessary standards to ensure that all needs are covered with our RFID tags.
That's why we have a wide variety of materials (standard paper, polyethylene, polyamide, cardboard, etc.) to manufacture the tags, as well as multiple delivery formats (in rolls, zig-zag, loose, etc.). The types of RFID tags we have available at Dipole are:
RFID tags are printed on a specialized printer for RFID label printing. This printer can be a thermal or inkjet printer, and it is necessary to have access to specialized software for designing and customizing the tags. To print, the label is placed in the printer, and the printing process is followed using the software. The software is responsible for writing the information on the RFID tag, as well as printing the design and necessary information on the label's surface.
It is important to follow the instructions and recommendations of the printer and label manufacturer to ensure high-quality printing and proper functionality of the RFID tag.
There are many printer models, capable of adapting to industrial, desktop, portable environments, and more:
RFID tags and technology, like any other electronic system, can malfunction due to equipment failures, software defects, environmental influences, or the natural aging of components. The tag, being the most delicate element, is usually the most affected by all these circumstances. To analyze their performance, duration, and the differences that may exist between them, it is necessary to investigate the most common failure modes:
To estimate the approximate duration of RFID tags, manufacturers perform various aging tests. These tests allow them to predict degradation and response levels over long periods. These experiments are monitored and accurately reproduced, so they can be compared with each other.
The performance of RFID tags determines the system's operation and represents a significant investment for the company. Therefore, it is logical to demand the highest quality from tag manufacturing companies. You can ask the following questions to suppliers:
RFID technology can be used in a wide variety of processes and sectors. More and more industries are adopting this identification system. Here are some examples of RFID technology and its potential applications:
One of the fundamental applications is improving the overall supply chain by automating, simplifying, or even eliminating identification and data capture tasks at various points in the chain, ensuring traceability. RFID tags are placed on all products to be tracked, providing information about them at each stage of the process. This simplification leads to benefits such as increased productivity and efficiency and reduced operational costs.
To be competitive today, it is essential to improve production times, reduce direct labor in non-value-added processes, and increase overall company productivity. The industrial sector has found RFID technology to be a great ally, offering advantages such as data capture in procedures where it is impossible or costly to do manually. It has streamlined and optimized all processes within industrial activity, with many sectors incorporating it into their systems.
One example is the automotive industry: many car manufacturers and component suppliers use this technology for a comprehensive view and control of the supply chain, managing assembly lines more easily, detecting errors, and storing important information about each piece (such as serial number or manufacturing date) thanks to RFID tags. This ensures complete traceability of their products and simplifies interactions between various supply chain actors, from material suppliers to dealership agents.
Logistics processes have experienced positive change due to RFID systems: the interaction between manufacturing, distribution centers, and stores is much more agile and effective. Goods can be identified massively and reliably, avoiding manual information verification. Warehouse management is improved, allowing automated loading and unloading of goods. Order preparation, packing, and collection times are reduced, and errors are easily detected.
By applying radiofrequency to logistics, businesses gain a global view, ensuring good service and increasing productivity by 20-30% more than using barcodes.
Retail is one of the sectors that has benefited the most. Adhesive RFID tags placed on products allow the exact location of each item to be known at all times, as well as storing relevant information about them. This greatly simplifies inventory management, preventing stockouts. These tags can also be used as anti-theft systems, only deactivated when passing through the checkout; a detection gate will sound an alarm if someone tries to take a product without paying.
In addition, this technology can offer customers a new shopping experience through interactive screens and fitting rooms, which allow for product identification and information, purchase recommendations, or requests for different sizes and colors, among other options.
Overall, RFID is a useful tool for improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales volume. Fashion, jewelry, and cosmetics are some of the sectors where this technology has become indispensable.
Today, RFID technology is the best system for tagging clothing and other retail products in an easy, fast, and effective way.
Industry Hospitals also collect large amounts of data daily, essential for the proper functioning of all treatments performed there (patient admissions and discharges, medical supplies, medications, access data to restricted areas for hospital staff, etc.). Collecting all this data requires a system capable of storing and updating it immediately, simply, and securely. Thus, the benefits and tools of RFID technology:
One of the primary concerns of the food industry is the sanitary safety of products. RFID technology offers numerous advantages in ensuring food traceability at any stage of the production process:
It allows product entries from the field with alerts for ripening time or other associated processes; temperature control in the cold chain; movement registration between drying chambers/curing zones; and even controlling turnovers in cheese curing processes and similar products. We can also create alerts to prevent obsolete or expired stock.
In addition, with RFID tags, we can store all the information that must be included about the products (entries, sizes, varieties, etc.), ensuring compliance with current legal regulations.
RFID tags provide books and/or documents with a unique identification number, allowing for more accurate and effective tracking since the system can read the identification of multiple units simultaneously and avoid manual identification. Additionally, this technology is used for the authentication of official documents, preventing forgery. Implementing RFID technology in a library enables real-time registration of book loans and returns and control of due dates. Users can access the information they need at any time. With this system, a library user could check from home if a book or CD is available at the library or not.
RFID technology allows for better management and control of participants times in races and other sports events. The RFID tag assigned to each participant enables tracking of their course and timing. These disposable tags allow for accurate timing without causing any discomfort to the athlete. They can be attached to the bib, sports shoes, or other clothing worn by the runner.
We can record asset movements in real-time, enabling control and management on-site or from a remote location. By identifying assets with appropriate tags, we can easily locate them even if they have been moved and placed where they do not belong. We can even record changes in environmental conditions for critical products.
These systems help prevent asset loss or misplacement while simplifying management and reducing operational costs.
Proper inventory management is essential for the smooth operation of any business.
With RFID technology, we can manage the inventory process in real-time, automatically: we can assign a unique identifier to each stored product, avoiding duplicates and discrepancies; we can easily obtain relevant information about stored products and their location; and we can maintain a more accurate and constantly updated stock.
This way, we can save time and reduce costs while increasing productivity, avoiding errors, and preventing unnecessary expenses.
This is one of the most common uses of this technology. With an RFID tag, real-time and rapid control of products entering and leaving a warehouse or people participating in an event can be achieved. To do this, RFID portals can be placed at access points, capable of identifying the number of tags passing through them and their carrier.
Companies can obtain a wealth of information for the management and control of activities. Examples include, but are not limited to, goods entries and exits, order distribution (the entire process), worker identification and access, event entry supervision, door locking in hotels, and many more.
There are many factors that influence the price of an RFID tag: the type of chip, the dimensions of the tag, the material type, the adhesive, the quantity demanded, the memory, the packaging of the tag itself, etc. Their prices will vary according to these elements; they can range from a few cents to higher amounts.
The best way to know the ideal price for your RFID tag is to contact one of our experts at Dipole. They will advise you on the best option for your needs and guide you throughout the entire process.
At Dipole, we encourage you to learn about all these technologies and integrate them within your company's needs and strategies. That's why we offer you all our intelligent RFID identification services. With these solutions, we can provide real-time, reliable, and live data to make informed decisions about your business. If you want to learn more about our services, don't hesitate to contact us and continue reading about all the technological innovations on our blog.
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