Radio Frequency Identification RFID
Emkat employs factory trained system engineers who can assist you with your compliance and RFID projects. We have partnered with the best in the industry to assure you that your system meets you requirements and that of your vendors. Below are some FAQ's regarding RFID. Please contact your account manager to learn more about RFID.
Although RFID is not a new technology, it is not commonly understood in the supply chain. The following Frequently Asked Questions will help clarify the technology and the issues related to its adoption.
What is RFID?
Radio frequency identification. The technology involves tags that emit radio signals, which are picked up by readers. The most common method is to store a serial number that identifies a product on a microchip that is attached to an antenna.
How does an RFID system work?
Radio frequency identification technology is an automatic way to collect product, place, time or transaction data quickly and easily without human intervention or error. The system consists of a tag, which is made up of a microchip with a coiled antenna, and a reader with an antenna. The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves returned from the RFID tag into a form that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it. Information is sent to and read from RFID tags by a reader using radio waves.
What is a RFID "smart label"?
It is a form of RFID tag. A smart label consists of an adhesive label that is embedded with an ultra-thin RFID tag "inlay" which is encoded and then printed. The labels are called "smart" because of the flexible capabilities provided by the silicon chip embedded in the tag inlay.
What is the difference between a Passive and Active RFID system?
Passive technology uses energy emitted by the RF readers to energize passive tags, which emit an RF air signal that is then read by the RF reader and decoded. Since little power is absorbed from the RF signal, the transmission range is less than 10 feet. With no power source to contend with, passive tags have a simplified circuitry, which allows the technology to be miniaturized and therefore can be reproduced at a very low cost, typically several cents apiece.
Active technology uses battery power to energize the active tags, allowing the active tags to transmit an effective RF signal up to 300 feet indoors and up to 1,000 feet outdoors. Active RF tags require more complicated circuitry to deal with the powered RF transmission. This complicated circuitry coupled with the powered battery cell make active RF tags larger and more costly than passive RF tags. Active RF tags typically cost $10-$50 each and have an expected life of up to seven years.
Frequency is defined by the protocol used in the RFID system. Each frequency has advantages and disadvantages. Generally a lower frequency means a lower read range, slower data read rate, but increased capabilities for reading near or on metal or liquid surfaces that interfere with or short out radio waves.
Low Frequency (LF) - Low Frequency tags operate at or near 125 kHz and have a read range of less than half of a meter. They have a slow data transfer rate and read range of about half a meter, but are generally cheaper and less sensitive to interference than higher frequency options.
High Frequency (HF) - High Frequency systems operate at 13.56 MHz, creating a truly global solution. Read ranges for HF systems are about one meter and they can transmit data faster than LF tags.
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) - Ultra High Frequency systems operate in a range between 860-930 MHz. UHF tags can be read up to three meters away, and generally operate at greater speeds than HF tags. However, metal and liquid substances are concrete barriers for this frequency and more testing is needed to address these shortcomings.
Are there standards for RFID?
Yes. Many standards initiatives are under way. GTag is promoted by EAN and UCC as a way to communicate with UHF tags; ISO 18000-6, which is an international effort that forms the foundation for the GTag standard; and the Auto-ID Center's electronic product code. The EPC and the technology surrounding it is not a standard in any formal way, but the Auto-ID Center hopes that it will be widely adopted and become the de facto standard.
Will RFID replace bar codes?
Probably not. Bar codes are inexpensive and effective for certain tasks. It is likely that RFID and bar codes will coexist for many years.
What are the advantages of using RFID in retail and supply chain applications?
Retail establishments must contend with a variety of issues when it comes to managing inventory in the supply chain. In-store, RFID can provide more accurate accountability in the supply chain. By enabling automatic product replenishment, RFID affords better management of in-store inventory and better demand planning. Quality and product traceability will be greatly improved. Theft will be reduced. The time required to perform labor-intensive activities in the store can be significantly reduced, while dramatically increasing the reliability and accuracy of the data. Companies already employing RFID in their supply chain are seeing excellent benefits and a reduction in inventory costs.