What is RFID?

Technological advancements have led to massive improvements in productivity. Each new advance improves business methods and processes, leading to more productivity and prosperity. A new technology is making big waves in the Auto-ID industry: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

RFID has been around for several decades but is now becoming commonly adopted. It began with radar in WWII identifying enemy planes. The first Radio Frequency Identification Transponder system was created in 1973 and Walmart began implementing RFID in 2005. RFID didn’t live up to the hype because at the time because of the high cost of the readers and tags. That has changed. Tags can now be purchased for as little as 10p and the retail, warehousing and manufacturing industries are using RFID for inventory management, asset management and more.

The global market value of RFID went from $1.95 billion in 2005 to $26 billion in 2015 and it is continuing to grow each year.

So, what is RFID and how can it benefit your business? We’re glad you asked.


Benefits of RFID

RFID brings impressive benefits by improving accuracy while saving time. Here are some of the unique capabilities of RFID:

  • Being able to read hundreds of tags in a few seconds
  • No need for line of sight when reading tags
  • Tags can be very durable
  • Tags can store more data than barcodes
  • Read range can extend to 150 meters
  • Tags can be rewritten and used again

This enables you to save vast amounts of time in stocktaking, provides more inventory visibility and improves accuracy. In the case of Walmart, conducting a 10,000 item stocktake took 53 hours with barcoding, an average of 209 items per hour. Conducting that same stocktake with RFID took only 2 hours, an average of 4,767 items per hour. That is a 96% reduction in stocktaking time.

In addition, inventory accuracy improves from an average of 65% to 95%.

Because of this, RFID is bringing positive ROI for businesses. In a 2018 study, 10 retailers that conducted a pilot program for RFID all found positive ROI from their programs. The same can happen for you.

How RFID Works

So, how does RFID work? An RFID reader transmits radio signals with either an integrated or external antenna. The RFID tags receive the signal and power transmitted over the air and return a message with their data.

Types of RFID

RFID comes in a variety of frequencies, which are suited to different applications:

  1. Low frequency – 125 – 134 kHz

It has a read range of contact to 10 cm and is used for tracking animals and applications with liquid or metals.

  1. High frequency – 13.56 MHZ

Has a read range of contact to 30 cm and is used mostly for ID cards, library books and NFC technology.

  1. Ultra-High Frequency – 30 – 300 MHZ

It has a much higher read range of up to 150 m and is used in supply chain tracking, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, electronic tolling, race timing, inventory tracking and asset tracking.

  1. Active RFID – 433 MHZ or 2.45 GHz

Active RFID tags have their own battery and transmit signals like a beacon. It has a much further read range of 30-300 m and is often used for vehicle tracking, auto manufacturing, mining, construction and tracking valuable assets.

Applications of RFID

Common uses of RFID include inventory management and asset management. Inventory management enables you to count stock much faster. Asset management enables you to track your valuable equipment and assets to reduce losses, improve maintenance and more.

Using RFID

Implementing RFID in a business requires thorough testing to determine application and cost feasibility. Our team of RFID engineers will need to conduct a proof of concept trial to determine whether the technology will function as expected in the environment. Once the concept has been tested, we will conduct a pilot program. If the pilot is successful, we will roll out RFID throughout your business’s operations.

You can learn more about RFID’s benefits, use cases and products at our RFID partner website. If you’re interested in implementing RFID in your business, contact our team to speak to an RFID specialist.

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