Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that encodes digital data via tags and captures information through radio waves to keep track of databases. While it is similar to a barcode, RFID, however, has several advantages over barcode as it doubles up as an asset tracking software.
Technical Understanding of RFID
There are two primary components that take place when RFID functions:
1. Every RFID has a tag called label that contains an antenna and microchip.
2. The reader, also known as the interrogator, reads the information on the RFID chip.
Eventually, all the data related to the tags will be stored in the facility’s computer as a database.
Significance and History of RFID Technology
Once the RFID device is installed at the entry-exit point of the venue, the reader registers with the items that move out of the facility to keep track of it in real-time. This process helps in keeping track of the products accurately and simultaneously keep up the onward distribution process of the same.
RFID helps in planning product locations strategically without investing in a lot of manpower. It can also accelerate the delivery management system and work for the betterment of the logistics cycle.
The use of radio waves that help read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked, unlike the barcode technology which needs a direct optical connect.
The first people who used a Morse code of thick and thin bars were Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver in the year 1952. However, it took another two decades before Wrigley Company created a Universal Product Code (UPC) in a grocery application to take this technology and launch it into what it is today.
RFID for Location Tracking
Simple yet effective, the art of location tracking in companies cuts the edge for businesses in maintaining streamlined processes. This technology is made possible through RFID technology, yet the simplicity in the way it functions surprises many.
There are two types of RFID tracking:
I. Passive RFID and
II. Active RFID
Both these tracking systems work similar ways, however, they are set up in different ways.
I. Passive RFID Systems – This tracking system can identify and track assets and people only when they pass through the gateway. Due to its limited range, this system cannot actively track movements in real-time, unlike the Active RFID systems.
At best, a Passive RFID system will be able to trigger on tags that are up to 7 meters away, which may be enough to track people leaving rooms, building, or even go to specific work areas. These tags are only powered by radio signals from the RFID locator, and the return signals of these systems are much weaker than those sent from an Active RFID system.
II. Active RFID Systems– This system is much more exciting and interesting than the previous ones. Active RFID systems allow businesses to track in real-time throughout the monitored area. Also, these tags have the additional benefit of ‘panic buttons’ for the employees in order to monitor the workplace environment.
Active RFID systems use powered tags that contain an internal battery that allows to send out a strong continuous signal for the RFID tracker to locate and pick up. These batteries have power for weeks, months before they need some recharge.
Types of Location Tracking Tags
• Passive Location RFID Tags
• Active RFID Location Tags
• WiFi Location Tags
• Ultra Wide-Band Location Tags
• Infrared Location Tags
Benefits of RFID in Supply Chain
The supply chain businesses have growing about improving their efficiency in order to remain financially stable through all times. Therefore, RFID technology can come into handy for them as it can give visibility to their inventory and assets and eventually help them function their business smoothly.
Mentioned here are on-ground benefits RFID can offer supply chain businesses:
Increase Asset Visibility
– With RFID technology under your disposal, the possibilities of locating everything that has been misplaced or lost becomes very easy. Everything that one cannot manage can be tracked effortlessly with RFID.
These RFID tags can be read from anywhere within the facility which means that the employees know the immediate location of each item and have detailed information about the shipment that has already left the facility as well.
RFID provides increased visibility to your products that will result in organized business and aids employees in making decisions on-the-fly by instantly rerouting inventory.
Enhance Employee Productivity
– RFID technology gives your employees the liberty to do multi-tasking as they no longer need to be within the line of sight of the item or asset. They no longer need to waste time on scanning individual barcodes for misplaced tools or equipment, or manually count inventory.
The elimination of manual procedures eliminates human errors and perhaps employee productivity is guaranteed.
Alter Risks of Theft and Misplacement
– RFID technology provides access to inventory information and helps the employees locate them. By tracking the movement of each asset, one can ensure that all the items are safe and secure.
Thus, having this technology will help the business grow and avoids the business from heavy fines, loss of customers and from the mistakes which occur frequently.
In the present scenario, most of the European countries have already been using this technology for better logistics management. However, to gain a competitive edge over others one needs to gain a detailed insight over technologies like these and to ascertain its relevance to a facility, the sure shot way is to watch a demo or a walk-through from a well-established indoor positioning and indoor navigation solutions provider.