Friday Fundamentals: What is RFID? (Part 1)

If you’ve been trying to find a way to organize and better manage products or inventory, you’ve probably come across the RFID acronym. It stands for Radio Frequency Identification.

The simplest RFID involves a small chip transponder (usually called a “tag”), a transceiver and an antenna. The tag is able to carry 2,000 bytes of data, the antenna can pickup that data and let the transceiver read it when the chip is within range.

The data is what you really care about because that’s what can help you finally get in control of your supplies and inventory.

RFID: The Better Barcode

Most people look at RFID devices and immediately think, “barcode.” What is important to know is that the RFID may provide some of the same information a barcode does, but it doesn’t function the same.

RFIDs are easier to use because they don’t need to be scanned precisely over the identification like barcodes. If you’ve ever tried to check out of stores yourself, you know the frustration that sometimes comes when you can’t seem to get the laser to capture the barcode information. RFIDs don’t have this problem.

RFIDs can work even if the item is a few feet away. Imagine placing all of your groceries into a bag, placing it on a table, and in just a few seconds or less, all of your items have been tallied up ready for you to pay. RFIDs are capable of doing that, and so much more.

How RFIDs Work

RFIDs are highly intelligent and are made up of three parts:

  1. Scanning antenna
  2. Transceiver with a decoder to interpret the data
  3. Transponder (the RFID tag) with information

The antenna sends out a signal. This signal makes it possible for the transponder to communicate with the transceiver. The information is then transmitted to a computer.

RFIDs DO NOT need batteries. They can last decades simply running on its intelligent technology.


RFIDs can be used in many ways.

  • Animal tracking, such as in the case of microchipping
  • Tagging items in the wild, such as different types of trees or species of animals
  • Tracking of inventory, supplies, products, and more
  • To prevent theft by attaching RFIDs to items and then setting off an alert when an item passes a certain point
  • Tracking company vehicles and items being delivered by those vehicles
  • Easier checkouts for stores

The uses are limitless. Any situation where tracking an item’s status and location is important, RFIDs can do it.

Many companies use RFIDs to track equipment, tools, and products. By attaching RFID tags to items, companies can track how often equipment and tools are being used, who has used them, how long they have been used, and when they are returned. [GopherWerx Storeroom is an example of this type of asset management solution for storerooms and tool cribs.] For products, companies can attach RFID tags to them to track what has sold to know how much to order to replenish supplies. [GopherWerx Item Manager has this ability, combined with a convenient handheld device.]

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