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Introduction To RFID

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This rapidly-growing technology transmits information wirelessly, through the use of radio waves. RFID requires using a device known as a reader. The reader is needed to retrieve any data stored on a RFID tag. A standard RFID tag has a microchip that can contain as much as 2 gigabytes of information. Some of the chips used in this technology are smaller than a grain of sand. The reader device contains an antenna and a small chip to transmit information via the radio-frequency electromagnetic field. The reader is responsible for picking up identifying information like the unique serial number from package tags. The information is picked up via the antenna which emits radio signals and receives signals back from package tags. These signals are then transmitted in digital format to the appropriate computer system.

Information is transferred without any physical contact taking place between the reader operator and tagged item. RFID is generally categorized as an automatic identification technology. Auto-identification technology includes optical character readers, barcodes and retinal scans.

Why use RFID over barcodes?

Barcodes require individuals to manually scan each individual tag. Barcodes involve a line of sight, meaning the operator must see each tag he or she scans with a device. Individuals can oversee some tags or count other tags twice. Human error exists.

RFID, in comparison, is considered a non-line of sight technology. Users do not have to touch the packages or tags. The reader device operates via the RFID cloud. It can scan anything within a certain radius of the cloud. Counting can be done extremely efficiently and quickly without having a direct line of sight to the tag.

RFID technology is excellent for reducing labor time hours required for inputing manual data. It also improves data accuracy by eliminating human error risks. Instead of having to manually tag each individual package on a pallet, items can be bulk-wrapped and scanned from a distance.

Can you change to RFID from barcode?

Since barcoding is the foundation for proper inventory and item tracking, most businesses use it currently. Businesses can easily convert to the RFID technology. Converting simply means replacing barcode or serialized numbers with an RFID tag. Firms will also need to replace old barcode scanners with modernized RFID readers to make the transition.

Is it expensive?

Barcoding is time-consuming and requires more of a firm’s valuable resources. RFID technology saves time and frustration. It improves overall efficiency by utilizing lower amounts of company resources. In some cases, RFID technology can reduce tracking costs by three-fold. If your firm processes a minimal amount of high-dollar inventory items, though, it may not be worth the cost. RFID is ideal for companies needing to track large amounts of shipping and inventory.

RFID allows users to know exactly where products are located anywhere in the supply chain. Since information is available in real-time, users have the ability to see where items are in the supply chain. This RFID technology provides users with a perfect supply chain visibility. If a firm is unsure about whether RFID is a good fit, consulting with a professional at a barcode company can be a good idea.
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