Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or RFID technology is a technology that allows objects to be uniquely identified using radio waves, and can capture hundreds of objects at once. We use it in our daily lives more than we imagine, and its use continues to increase, thanks to its many advantages that we will discuss later.
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 direct line of sight is not necessary, so it is only essential that the RFID tag is within the reading range of the RFID reader or antenna.
Some of the most common uses we can find are in the retail world, where we can take inventories in seconds, in industry, where we can monitor processes in real-time, or in logistics, where thanks to RFID we can ensure that the dispatched products are exactly the right ones and there are no errors.
RFID solutions require 3 elements for their operation: an RFID antenna, an RFID reader, and an RFID tag. Depending on the use and needs, different types of hardware may be needed.
Thesystem has a RFID reader, which is like the brain of the entire system. It sends a signal to the antenna to emit radio frequency waves. When one of these waves reaches an RFID tag, the tag activates and returns the data contained within it to the antenna. This data then reaches the reader, which transforms the data into information.
Once this process is completed, this information can be integrated with any type of database, ERP, or other system to process and store it.
In the following video, we can see how RFID technology works to achieve, in this case, product traceability:
As can be seen in the video, this technology is not only characterized by being an identification system, but also by its data storage capacity and the transmission of this data between different devices.
Within RFID technology, and depending on the application in which it will be used, we can find different frequencies, which we explain in more detail in Types of RFID systems.
With RFID devices, we have the ability to identify and track individual objects or boxes of items without needing a direct line of sight, adding significant value to businesses for managing 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 have them identified at all times, so they know when they leave or enter different facilities. This technology provides a guarantee and security for both logistical and productive processes.
All the information obtained with RFID can be managed in the cloud so that the product location and the actions being taken are immediately known, thus achieving greater productivity and eliminating unproductive work.
Some of the advantages of RFID technology could be summarized as follows:
Now that we know what RFID is, we can move on to see the different hardware components involved for the RFID system to function properly. The system is composed of various RFID devices, and when configured correctly, it can achieve 100% reading rates. The following are the different devices and components of an RFID system:
These devices are responsible for powering the RFID tags through the antennas. While doing this, they capture the tags' data, decode it, and transmit it to the corresponding software for interpretation. To cover all segments, it is necessary to have various types of RFID readers. These are grouped into three main categories:
Fixed RFID Readers: Fixed RFID readers have the highest power and offer better performance when setting up a professional RFID system.
Portable RFID Readers: With this type of reader, we have the flexibility to incorporate the RFID antenna into the device itself or connect it through Bluetooth or another connectivity system.
USB RFID Readers: This hardware is suitable for simple applications, where high technological performance readings are not required. Its basic use is short-range.
These are used to read RFID tags in warehouses, production lines, stores, medical centers, sporting events, etc. The antenna creates a three-dimensional action field around it called a beam (pattern), radiation pattern, or bulb. The different types of RFID antennas we encounter are:
Universal RFID Antennas: These are standard antennas that offer good performance in almost any situation.
Long-range RFID Antennas: These antennas allow the use of RFID up to a maximum distance of 18 meters, with adjustable power and sensitivity.
Short-range RFID Antennas: These are near-field antennas usually used in point-of-sale locations due to their speed.
Rugged RFID Antennas: These antennas are designed to withstand complex environments and industrial settings where there may be dust or moisture. They are always certified with IP protection.
RFID Floor Antennas: These antennas are designed to be placed on the floor and can read everything that passes over them. They are widely used in popular races, conferences, etc.
The most common way to insert a chip into a product is through RFID tags. It is the most popular element of RFID technology. At Dipole, we are manufacturers of RFID tags, which allows us to design the tags according to the customer's needs, choosing different internal IC types, customizing the size, or modifying the adhesive depending on the type of application the tag will have.
Some of the tags we have at Dipole are:
It is a software platform designed to capture data dynamically and intelligently in any business structure and sector. It controls the physical movements of goods, containers, people, returnable assets, etc. in real-time without human intervention. At Dipole, we have developed Lama, the RFID management software, to manage everything that occurs in an RFID system.
To connect readers and antennas, we need coaxial cables of different lengths, temperature resistance, or very low loss cables. There are different types of coaxial cables used in various applications, and each has specific characteristics, such as working frequency, impedance, insertion loss, etc. Coaxial cables are also classified by their outer diameter and length, allowing for better selection for the desired application.
An RFID tag is an RFID device that receives signals and automatically emits responses when it receives radiofrequency waves from antennas. The smallest ones can measure just a few millimeters, but they all have a microchip and an antenna. A conventional transponder's microchip can store a significant amount of information, depending on its internal memory capacity.
The RFID chip with the printed, adhered, or engraved antenna is called the inlay, and it is usually implanted in self-adhesive, intelligent labels, commonly known as RFID tags.
There are three types of RFID tags:
Now that we know what RFID is and that this technology is based on the use of radio waves to identify products, there are various systems that make up RFID technologies, which differ in the frequency used and the applications each of them has. Let's see what they are:
RFID technology is so versatile that it allows for multiple solutions:
The accuracy of RFID technology ensures a flawless shipping process, eliminating human errors, reducing costs, and optimizing resources. Dipole's solution guarantees shipments with RFID technology and prevents delivery errors to your customers.
The RFID system allows for continuous identification throughout the entire work process. Valuable data such as material location, traceability history, or the status of parts can be obtained. With this information, possible flaws in processes can be detected and addressed to make them more efficient.
One of the most well-known applications within RFID technology is inventory management in large or small warehouses. The different possibilities of RFID tags and RFID hardware enable data reading in various types of products or environments, whether more complex like those with metal or less complex like a shoe store's inventory.
Asset tracking associates containers with their contents and their details and attributes for each asset. This allows for complete control of item movement and traceability. Moreover, the asset doesn't have to be visible to be detected, and multiple RFID tags can be found simultaneously.
Receiving goods is a critical point in any logistical process. Automating goods reception translates into significant progress for a company. The hardware can identify the information from the RFID tags of all products. Lastly, the RFID software manages all the information generated in real-time. This process minimizes the involvement of company employees, reducing their workload.
RFID technology streamlines the supply chain, making it a faster process with less handling by operators. The RFID system we propose can access all product information in real-time, with precise localization.
RFID technology accurately authenticates products, achieving speed in production or logistics processes for companies.
It allows connecting products to the network, interacting with the end consumer, and authenticating items in the case of more industrial companies. The Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality.
When we talk about food here, we are referring to industries that carry out processes of production, packaging, and storage of food products. Food industries are those that perform processes of production, packaging, and storage of products. By law, these products must contain certain information:
Dipole has been a pioneer in the use of RFID technology for industrial applications and optimization of production processes. Achieving higher productivity, reducing direct labor in processes that do not add value to the product, and improving scheduling and forecasting are essential components for being competitive in today's world.
Capturing data where it is not possible to do so manually and tracking times, with their trace and added features, is one of the key contributions of RFID technology in industrial processes.
A supply chain manages a large volume of products in various stages of the business process. RFID technology optimizes identification and data capture, improving work time and reducing operational costs. Industries focused on the supply chain (logistics, distribution, or storage) can gain a significant competitive advantage with RFID technology. They will be able to reduce management times and, with the information obtained, improve processes.
The application of RFID technology in the healthcare sector continues to increase. The advantages it can offer are being discovered:
The RFID solution proposed by Dipole for the retail sector aims to simplify processes to improve:
The leisure sector is experiencing a boom in automation, as it enhances the user experience and optimizes the entire process. There is no need to carry any paper tickets or identification, which, in addition to simplifying all information, helps reduce paper usage. The RFID system can obtain real-time event data, whether for sporting events or access control at conferences.
Most of these applications have appeared in recent years, with technology growing rapidly, especially with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. If you have any questions about what RFID is and how to apply it, you can contact us, and we will help you.
Although we have discussed some applications here, their uses are much broader. RFID technology can also be used in libraries, access control, and even sports timing. At Dipole, we have over 20 years of experience in intelligent identification, Industry 4.0, and digitization. If you have any questions about this technology, feel free to contact us.
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