What is an RFID Tag?

What is an RFID Tag?

RFID is a well-known wireless technology with applications in traceability, logistics and access control. It has become omnipresent in industry and our daily lives (ticketing systems, payment systems, passports, car keys).

Some people worry about privacy issues with RFID tags because they can be read at a distance without the owner’s knowledge.

RFID Basics

A RFID tag is a microchip with an integrated circuit and an antenna that responds to radio waves. When an RFID reader sends out a signal at the proper frequency, the chip is activated and emits its own RFID Tag response by sending a small electrical current through its antenna. The reader then receives this information and transmits it to a computer program.

To make RFID work, all of your equipment must use the same radio frequency, or a compatible one. This is true of both the RFID readers and the tags themselves. RFID readers come in various forms: fixed, handheld, mobile, or even embedded into a smart cart. The readers, which combine a transceiver and an antenna, are also known as interrogators.

The microchips in RFID tags can store a significant amount of data. They are designed with four memory banks – EPC, TID, User, and Reserved. Two physically identical tags can be distinguished by their different EPC or TID memory banks, which contain a unique identifier and information about the tag itself.

RFID technology can have a profound effect on retail operations. In addition to reducing the time spent on inventory control and increasing product availability, it can free up store associates to assist customers. More importantly, heightened inventory accuracy enables retailers to meet customer demands for omnichannel fulfillment and provide personalized engagement.

RFID Applications

RFID tags work with a radio-frequency reader to transmit information that tells the reader about an item’s identity, status or location. They can be affixed to items as labels or integrated into the design of an object.

The information that the tags provide can be a unique ID number, product-related data or even a link to an online inventory or tracking system. They can also be used to verify when equipment or vehicles are serviced or inspected, restricting their use until certain conditions are met.

RFID technology can also improve warehouse management. It eliminates the need for manual form filling and replaces outdated spreadsheets with a more automated process that automatically records products as they move through the facility. This helps prevent human scanning errors, which can be costly. It also saves time because staffers no longer have to spend hours counting products manually and can instead focus on other tasks.

Using RFID tags to track raw materials or finished goods also reduces inventory costs and allows for better planning of production and supply chain needs. It can also help you monitor shrinkage and ensure that shipments are accurate and complete.

RFID is an extremely versatile solution for manufacturers. It can be used at the manufacturing level to encode products with a unique RFID label, as well as in warehouses and distribution centers. It is often combined with barcodes to make Newbega RFID Card the transition from paper forms or spreadsheets to an electronic data collection system.

RFID Technology

Unlike barcodes, RFID tags are powered by radio waves. The reader emits a signal that activates the tag. It responds with its identification number and other data, which is transformed by the antenna into a format that can be transmitted to a computer system for processing. The amount of information that can be stored on the tag is greater than in a barcode.

The data that is transmitted may include a variety of details on the product, from serial numbers to manufacturing dates and locations. This allows you to trace individual products through the supply chain, a capability that is not possible with standard barcodes.

Retailers use RFID to improve inventory accuracy and speed up restocking in stores. It also helps curb one of the industry’s biggest challenges – shoplifting, estimated to cost $94.5 billion a year in the US. By combining data from asset tracking with sales and video surveillance, retailers can identify trends in theft and share them with law enforcement.

Some retailers are using RFID technology to locate items faster during restocking and serve customers better with buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). This involves scanning entire shipments rather than just individual packages. RFID can also reduce cycle count time and automatically reorder at safety stock levels without the need for staff to do a manual spot check.

RFID Costs

Several factors contribute to the costs associated with RFID systems. These include fixed and recurring costs, as well as the cost of implementing the system and transitioning to the new workflow. These must be evaluated to determine if and when the system will provide a return on investment.

Passive RFID tags are very economical, generally costing only 20 cents each. These are ideal for paper and non-metallic assets, but will not work on metal IT equipment like servers or racks in a data center. Metal passive tags cost more, but are needed for those assets that will be in contact with metal. Active RFID tag cost is much higher, ranging from $15-$20 each. These tags continuously send out a signal, which is sensed by the reader to automatically report location in real-time. This technology is used for applications such as access control, race timing and supply chain management.

Readers are the most expensive component in an RFID system. Depending on the type of RFID reader, costs can range from $500-$3,000 or more. These readers are typically mounted on the wall or floor and have varying read ranges that can be adjusted for specific requirements.

Brown notes that people still ask when a 5-cent tag will be available, but that the technology is affordable now and only requires simple tweaks to inventory processing to reap the benefits. This is particularly true for those seeking to provide a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) model where frequent inventory counts are critical.