One of the most misunderstood parts of our industry is RFID tags. We wanted to explain what they are, what they do, and how they work to help people know how powerful they are for tracking purposes.
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. To identify a specific item, an integrated chip broadcasting a unique identifier on a readable radio frequency needs to be attached to the item. That’s how we end up with an RFID tag. This tag is what goes on whatever is being tracked. It’s the vehicle for the RFID chip, attaches it to the item, and protects the chip from the elements and wear and tear.
A RFID tag is made up of at least three main parts:
- Antenna: This receives the radio frequency waves.
- Integrated Circuit: This is what is used to process and store data.
- Protective Covering: This can take many forms, from a thin envelope with an adhesive backing to a hard, plastic shell with adhesive or latched hook to clip it onto something.
How They Work
RFID tags are a lot like barcodes, but they are more advanced and flexible.
With barcodes, the laser from the barcode scanner needs to directly read the printed barcode. You must have an unobstructed line-of-sight, and the label can’t be heavily worn, stained, or ripped. With RFID, the tag can be meters away from the antenna, with no direct line of sight. Since RFID tags are so much easier to read, getting information off of them isn’t frustrating like barcodes can sometimes be, and the scanning process is much faster, more convenient, and far more flexible.
RFID tags are manufactured in different frequencies for different use cases. These frequencies include:
- Ultra High Frequency
- High Frequency
- Low Frequency
The different frequencies are used for different purposes. For example, if you are looking for RFID tags that can be scanned from a long distance away, Ultra High Frequency would be best. If you’re looking for tags that will be passed by the reader within a close range, the Low Frequency may be best.
Where They Can Be Used
RFID tags can be placed on just about anything. They are used in many different industries for many reasons. Some examples include:
- Grocery Items
Anything you can think of can be tagged. RFID tags can be made very durable and resilient, so even items that will be out in the weather can be tagged without them getting damaged by the elements.
The Power of RFID Tags
What many people are surprised about is that there is NO onboard power source for the operation of many RFID tags. These tags (known as passive RFID tags) run via microchip circuitry and the signal is broadcast to the reader when the reader’s signal powers the tag. Basically, the power comes from the reader, and it’s the reader that sends electromagnetic waves to the tag, eliciting a signal in response.
Getting Started with RFID Tags
RFID tags and related technology has transformed inventory management. Tags can be placed on anything and everything that needs to be tracked. Whenever that tagged item passes a defined location or meets any other preset criteria, the reader sends information to the inventory management software attached to it.
The technological intelligence of RFIDs is phenomenal. We are excited about all of the uses of RFID tags, and would love to help you make the most of them in your business. Contact us today for more information on how you can get started with RFID tags.