What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology used to identify items in unique manner by way of radio waves, and is capable of capturing hundreds of objects at the same time. We use it in our daily lives more than we imagine, and its use continues to increase, thanks to its many advantages, which we will mention below.

Unlike other systems such as barcodes or QR codes, which use images for identification, RFID uses radio waves to capture information from RFID tags, with the characteristic that a direct line of sight is not necessary, meaning that only requirement is that the RFID tag has to be within the reading range of the RFID reader or antenna.

In the following video, we can see how RFID technology works, in this case, to achieve product traceability.

As seen in the video, this technology is not only characterised for being an identification system, but also for its data storage capacity and the transmission of data between different devices.

Within RFID technology, and depending on the application for which it is used, we can find different frequencies, which we explain in more detail in Types of RFID systems.

Benefits of RFID

The ability to identify and track individual objects or boxes of items without requiring a direct line of sight brings a lot of value to companies to control their products. For example, if a company uses plastic boxes to manage logistics with its customers, it can use this technology to make them unique and keep them identified at all times, so that they know when they leave or enter different facilities. This technology provides a guarantee and security to both logistics and production processes.

All the information obtained with RFID can be managed in the cloud so that the location of the product and the actions being taken can be known immediately, thus achieving greater productivity and eliminating unproductive work.

Broadly speaking, the benefits of RFID can be summarised as follows:

  • RFID does not require line of sight
  • RFID tags can be read and re-recorded as many times as desired.
  • RFID tags can either be disposable or highly resistant for reuse.
  • RFID tag data can be encrypted and locked.
  • RFID can contain more information than other types of tags.
  • RFID readers can read hundreds of tags at a time.
  • RFID tags are printable.
  • RFID systems can be integrated with ERP or other internal systems.

What makes up an RFID system?

Different hardware components are involved to make the RFID system function properly. If the RFID system is configured correctly, it can achieve 100% read rates. The different components of an RFID system are described below.

  • RFID readers: the reader is the central part of the system. They are responsible for processing the readings taken by the antennas. They have different reading modes depending on the application: inventory, multiple reading, etc.
  • RFID antennas: the antennas send RF signals to activate the tags and intercept tag responses. They are connected with a coaxial cable to the reader.
  • RFID tags: they are placed on objects and emit signals when activated by the antenna. They have different memory banks and reading distances.
  • Coaxial cables: to connect readers and antennas we need coaxial cables of different lengths, temperature resistant or very low loss cables.
  • Software: RFID systems always require some kind of software. Sometimes it's just a basic program, sometimes you need middleware or complex software to manage hundreds of readers at a time.

For more information you can read the blog articles: types of RFID systems and How does an RFID system work?

RFID Applications

There are a multitude of applications thanks to the different frequencies and elements that exist within an RFID system. RFID technology can be found in different areas of our daily lives, ranging from the reception of goods in a company, the identification of participants in a sports race, to the payment gateway of a store.

Below, we discuss some of the RFID applications we have found:

  • Inventory management

One of the most popular applications of RFID technology is inventory management in both large and small warehouses. The different possibilities existing for RFID tags and RFID hardware make it possible to read data in different types of products or environments, whether they are more complex, such as metal environments, or less complex, such as the inventory of a shoe shop.

  • Asset traceability

RFID enables the transmission of all the data stored in the RFID tags of each asset or product, which makes the location known and improves the company’s traceability and productivity.

  • Further information

RFID tags can contain the information you need, depending on the memory they have, so this way you can control the information necessary for your business, such as the expiry date of products or medicines.

  • Monitoring of incoming and outgoing goods

Thanks to the different RFID elements that exist, such as RFID portals and RFID arches, or the multitude of possibilities provided by RFID hardware, we can fully monitor a company’s incoming and outgoing goods.

  • Product authentication

RFID technology is able to authenticate products accurately, thus speeding up the production or logistics processes of companies.

Most of these applications have appeared in recent years; the technology is growing rapidly especially with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. If you have any queries about what RFID is and how to apply it, please contact us and we will help you.

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