RFID systems have their place in small and large enterprises by providing data to inform businesses of loss of productivity due to human frailty, inefficiency of operations and other factors.
Choosing an RFID System
A RFID system is made up of tags, readers, and software that collect and record data with little or no human involvement. Systems may also include barcodes, biometrics, voice recognition and robotics to complement the system. Each system is customized to the enterprise it serves, usually through an RFID integrator, but basically, each system connects assets to tags to an ID database.
An initial consideration when you are considering a RFID system must be about the kind of monitoring you need. Some questions to ask yourself are:
Do you need real time monitoring?
Is your environment a high speed environment?
Are the assets surveyed going to be a long distance from the reader?
Are some asset positions impossible to place in the direct sight of a reader?
Do you need a tight layer of security?
What is your price point?
How large is the area you want to cover?
Do you want to monitor points of congestion or zones?
Is the asset you’re monitoring an expensive item?
How precise does your data need to be?
How much data storage do you need?
Passive & Active RFID Systems
Depending upon your environment and project needs, you’ll have to choose a RFID system that can handle a few different scenarios: an active tag implementation, a Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) implementation or a passive tag implementation.
At Metalcraft, we specialize primarily in the manufacturing of Passive RFID and Battery-Assisted Passive tags. Both of these types of tags are powered by electromagnetic energy transmitted from an RFID reader that responds when it receives an RF signal. The BAP tag, however, can transmit its signal further because of the additional power provided by the battery which is activated when the integrated circuit initially receives the signal. Mobile RFID readers can be used as stand alone readers or in conjunction with fixed readers to get the best possible coverage.
In a passive system implementation, readers only receive data when a tag is passed within the range of their signal (fixed reader) or when the reader is in the vicinity of the tag (mobile/handheld reader). If a tag is not close to the reader (typically a 15-25 ft. depending upon the type of tag) the entity is not identified. As with all RFID tags, passive tags do not need line of sight. At a large concert, a patron who goes through a passive tagged door is admitted quickly without a human ticket taker. Even a wristband patron crowding through the door behind another patron, wristband hidden, will be identified. (Some readers alert management when trespassers without tags crowd through!)
Active RFID tag systems have their place too; they tend to be more expensive in terms of infrastructure and ongoing tag costs, however, human error and read distances do need to be taken into consideration in evaluating these systems. A worker counting food items with a handheld RFID passive reader missing some cans of vegetable soup isn't much of a problem. An art gallery manager missing a Van Gogh painting is a big problem.
Overall, passive tags are small, making them less intrusive than active tags. Smaller passive tags have a more flexible scope of influence because of their construction. They can be affixed in more places and conform to scan various surfaces like tools, barrels and other items that have rounded or smaller surface areas.
Like all facility upgrades, installation of any RFID system is a task in customization that addresses many unique variables. The general cost of any RFID system would be highly speculative because of these variables, but tag converters can help put you in touch with experts in those areas.
Choosing Metalcraft for RFID tags in the system you install means you will have the best quality tags money can buy plus the benefits of its long time history in the business and its association with skilled, reputable companies for system deployment.
When the RFID system is installed, inventory control, asset misplacement, theft and other issues that caused you to consider a RFID system in the first place, should be alleviated and give you peace of mind.
About the Author: Julia Deets
Julia Deets joined Metalcraft in 1999 as the Marketing/New Product Director. Julia has held numerous roles during her career with Metalcraft, all related to marketing and customer support. Her current position is as the VP of Marketing and Customer Experience. She has both an undergrad and a Master's degree in Organizational Communications from Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Northern Iowa, respectively.