4 Things Your Business Should Know About RFID Technology

1. RFID can lead to increased visibility

There is much speculation about the use of RFID chips for surveillance. Google is packed with discourse about how the government could constantly track us through our clothing, money, food, shoes or other belongings. Many companies ask us if their business could use RFID to increase visibility and control over production and operations.

While it is possible, it is highly unlikely. At this point in time, RFID lacks scalability for most businesses. This is why no country has used RFID in this way. With that said, very tiny RFID chips have been developed to give governments an upper hand in the fight against the counterfeiting of passports, currency and other securities. Also, rumor has it that the EU was considering placing RFID chips in currency, but that has not happened yet (in as much as we know).

The costs, limitations and infrastructure do not back out well from an ROI perspective. As far as putting hidden RFID chips in clothing, we doubt this will ever happen. Consumers can easily detect and remove chips with a reader.

The reality is that SIM cards and smart phones transmit more personal information (PI) over greater distances with less difficulty than RFID. Simply put, RFID technology was not designed for big brother. Rather, it was designed to make your business run more efficiently for less.

2. Not all RFID technology is the same

There are two types of RFID technology you may want to familiarize yourself with: Passive RFID and Active RFID technology.

Passive RFID

The RFID most companies are interested in is called Gen 2. The type of chip used is non-powered; it is also referred to as “Passive RFID” technology. This is because the chip does not actively push an identity packet to the air.

Active RFID

The alternative is the RFID chip everyone thinks of when they’re worried about big brother. Active RFID can carry more data than passive RFID. Additionally, this type of tag can be read and edited from greater distances. An active RFID chip is powered electronically and its capability for transmitting data is dependent on the sizes of both the battery and the antenna associated with the RFID chip. RTLS (real time location systems) use this type of RFID tracking.

3. RFID is not always the better option

The distance by which data can be transmitted and received is VERY subjective. One inch to 6 feet would be a general ballpark for most dry/non-metallic goods. Every RFID installation would need to be tested to confirm real ranges. The amount of data captured is limited to approximately 20KB to 100KB. Data stored on the RFID chip is not tabulated or organized and thus requires middleware to organize the data into a comprehensible format. The entire setup ends up being very expensive and time consuming.

4. Don’t lose sight of the bottom line

Businesses all have the same three goals in common. Increase revenue, reduce operational costs and shorten cycle time. As with any business venture, you should talk with an AIDC expert and carefully consider the cost benefits of RFID. In general, barcode labels are the least expensive and most effective alternative for most business requirements although we do supply RFID readers and tags to some companies from time to time.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts, opinions or experience in the comments section below.

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