Radio frequent identification (RFID) technologies are automated identification systems, which in recent years have very successfully been installed for many different applications. It is a contactless communication-technology, which provides information on identification of people, animals, goods and objects. Their data is recorded on special microchips – RFID tags or transponders, which mark the object directly. The data is read via special devices, called “readers” or “interrogators”. In many cases the barcode is no longer sufficient in the identification processes.
The RFID tag does not require much space, doesn’t have its own source of energy and doesn’t need technical maintenance. Its cost is slightly higher than of the standard bar code, but it has more storage capacity and is flexible when data needs to be changed (bar codes are in this aspect unpractical).
But the main difference between RFID technology and bar coding is something else. It is known, that bar code identification requires physical contact, which means that you have to point RF terminal to the object, or put the object near the reader. If the label with barcode is damaged or wrinkled, it will require additional efforts from you. If this doesn’t work, you will have to enter the code manually. In each case it requires your individual actions towards the object. You have probably observed such procedures at the supermarket’s pay desk.
The transmission of data through electro-magnetic waves is much more flexible. You do not have to take any special actions in order to read information, as when the RFID tag enters the reader’s antenna operating radius, the process becomes fully automated. What is also important is, when there are several objects in the operating radius, information is simultaneously read from all tags.
For example, you received a cargo pallet, consisting of 100 unique-sized boxes, which you have to unload, that is to record each unit‘s information. Using the barcode technology, you have to read each unit’s information individually, which means to repeat the same operation for 100 times! On the other hand, using RFID technology, you do not need to take any additional actions. When pallet passes the operating radius of RFID antenna, installed at the entrance and exit zones of the premise, information from all the tags flows into the system simultaneously.
The RFID read/write device creates weak electro-magnetic field. If a RFID tag passes this field, the microchip of the transponder activates and can send or receive data without any contact with the reader. If the tag leaves the field, the communication gets interrupted and the chip on the tag stops working, but the data on the tag remains stored.
High end reading systems are able to communicate with several tags in the magnetic field simultaneously. Such function is called “anti-collision”. The magnetic field of the reader can read through different materials like wood, paper or plastic covers.
At the moment two different RFID technologies available:
Passive tags have no own power source and take their energy directly from the magnetic field of the reader. Passive RFID tags don’t need any maintenance, but the reading distance depends on the size and frequency of the transponder and antenna.
Active tags are much more complex than passive tags and have an internal battery to increase the reading distances. The life time of active tags is limited through the battery. It’s manufacturing is more expensive, which is the reason why the price for active tags is much higher compared to passive systems.
There are systems with 134.2 kHz, 125 kHz, 13.56 MHz, 868 MHz, 915 MHz, 2.45GHz available, every system has different properties and reading distances depending on the environmental conditions.
Contact our RFID team – and we will help you to find the best solution for your application!