Introduction

RFID technology has seen uses as early as during World War II. Since then, technology changes and the use of RFID equipment has increased exponentially. The DoD- US Department of Defense has made the use of RFID mandatory through its issue of mandates, and the large retailer Wal-Mart also requires all its suppliers to tag their products to be RFID traceable, at least partly explaining the growth-phenomenon of RFIDs. Whether mandatory or not, RFID technology has many advantages over the legacy system of bar codes.

The tag holds far more data than is possible with a barcode label, and its life expectancy is near infinite as it is not susceptible to smearing, ripping or damages in transportation and has no known disadvantages of RFID technology.

  1. What is RFID?
  2. How does it work?
  3. RFID Tags and Smart Labels
  4. RFID Applications

1. What is RFID?

RFID- Radio Frequency Identification Device is a unique RFID technology that uses radio waves to capture the details of digital data that is stored in an encoded form on the smart labels or RFID tags and read by the RFID reader device. RFID solutions for implementation can be readily obtained from American Barcode and RFID AB&R®. 

Though similar in purpose to the barcodes, one of the biggest advantages of the RFID working principle is that it can be tracked even when no line of sight exists. Unlike optical scanners for bar codes, how RFID works do not require an alignment for the reading of its information with the RFID reader device for RFID application.

Besides, since it uses radio waves for the capture of information and tracking of its devices, it is a more foolproof system of features of RFID technology compared to the bar-coded labels or tags. Besides, it is very stable and remains undamaged from transportation woes, tearing etc., features of RFID technology.

2. How does it work?

RFID technology is part of the AIDC- Automatic Identification and Data Capture type of RFID architecture technologies that are excellent at methods of automatic identification of objects. RFID collects all informational data about a product to be tagged and stores the entered data into its computer system directly, requiring almost no intervention from humans. Radio waves are used by RFID methods to capture and read the information at will.An RFID simple system has 3 main RFID components, namely the RFID reader, smart label or RFID tag and a radio antenna.

The RFID tags use complex integrated circuits called RFID circuit diagram, which transmits and signals data to the interrogator or RFID reader, which then converts the data into usable forms of RFID frequency radio waves. This data is then transferred into the computer system using an interface for RFID communications. Once stored in an RFID database, the information/data is easily accessible for tracking, analysis and more at any point in time.

3. RFID Tags and Smart Labels

Smart-labels or RFID tags have an RFID technology antenna and a tag that contains many integrated circuits in it. The ICs are bound together and enclosed in a protective layer of RFID protection material meant to protect them from detrimental environmental conditions like excessive sun or water-ingress into them. Depending on the application the tag is used for, the components of RFID technology and its protective layer may be customized. Typically, RFID tags are housed in plastic bodies and the various layers embedded in those plastic layers. For Ex: Employee dog-tags or RFID tags.

The RFID tags are also amenable to several applications of RFID technology, different sizes and shapes and may be active or passive in nature. 

  • Passive RFID technology tags are smaller, have wider uses and cost lesser to implement. They do, however, require to be powered by the RFID computer system before they can transmit the data stored in them. For Ex: RFID tags on a clothing item needs to connect to the store’s system.
  • The active RFID technology tags, on the other hand, have a battery to power them, allowing them to transmit the data stored on them continuously. Ex: Trucks with RFID tags can be constantly tracked in RFID examples.

Smart labels are different from RFID technology tags because they contain both barcode technology and RFID tags. Such labels use an RFID tag inlay to include the barcoded adhesive label or information label. The biggest advantage of these labels is that they can be easily and cost-effectively printed using desktop printers for labels. In comparison, the RFID tag programming needs more advanced equipment and is time-consuming.

4. RFID Applications

Many organizations and industries have embraced RFID technology for a gamut of tasks like 

  • Counterfeit prevention (e.g. pharmaceutical industry drugs)
  • Asset tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Personnel tracking
  • ID Badges
  • Controlling access to restricted areas
  • Supply chain management

Conclusion

In conclusion, RFID technology has seen many changes and much growth since WW II times. Today they are mundanely used in a variety of applications, industries and purposes. Different kinds, sizes, colours and types of RFID uses are available. Smart labels combine the advantages of printed labels and RFID tags. Thus RFID technology is extremely useful and scores over the once-popular barcoded labels.

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