What is Radio Frequency Identification? Although RFID did not initially take in the supply chain world due to high prices, it is now making a comeback. With further advancements in the technology, RFID is more accessible to many companies.
Unlike barcodes, with RFID the reader or scanner does not need to see the actual tag to read it. The scanner sends out electromagnetic waves and the tag receives from a small antenna. The, the tag sends back its waves. The scanner receives and converts these waves to digital data. The specifics of the process depend on whether the tag is passive or active. An active tag uses an internal battery source, whereas a passive tag relies on energy transferred from the reader.
Since the tags store data digitally, they open up a whole new world of opportunity. Companies can to scan more items, speed up the shipping process, and gain more detailed processing info.
Keep Identification In-tact
With electromagnetic waves, scanners can read the tag through other material. What does this mean? Tags no longer have to be external. Unlike barcodes, you don’t need to place them on the outside of the packaging. This ensures that the item’s identification stays intact. Even if the packaging is damaged throughout the delivery process, the RFID will still be unharmed and ready to be scanned.
Scan Multiple Items With RFID
You can also scan many items in one go. Do you have a container full of items arriving at your warehouse that you need to process ASAP? Simply place the container in range of the scanner and it will record all items. The typical range is around 10 – 20 ft for high range scanners and the read time is usually less than 100 milliseconds. This makes it easy to scan a large amount of items in one go.
Get More Information
The method of data storage is an advantage to RFID as well. A passive RFID tag can store anywhere from 2KB to 8KB of data. With one scan you can find out in-depth and detailed info on a product: expiration date, price, product category, manufacturer, etc. This has taken information storage to a whole new level compared to barcodes. In addition, the information stored on an RFID tag is dynamic. Unlike barcodes, you can change the info on an RFID at anytime. This makes it simple to update product information or reuse tags.
RFID is still a fairly new technology, there is a lot to consider before implementing this type of identification in your organization. However, if it is the right fit for your company the benefits can be numerous.
This post only covers the basics of RFID. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss more about this topic and how its use in supply chain.