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RFID Tags: What They are, how they are used and Why You Need a RFID Consultant

RFID tags rely on radio frequency identification technology to make it possible for your specially labeled or tagged objects to be automatically identified. The system consists of an RFID tag and a reading device which relays the information on the tag back to the user, who can then track and trace their object.

What is an RFID tag?

RFID tags are tiny microchips, almost invisible to the naked eye, attached to a printed or plated antenna that is embedded in a card or other object. These devices listen for a radio query. When they sense one, they transmit a response. Many RFID tags are passive, meaning that they use the power from the querying radio signal to transmit their responses. Active tags have batteries, and can transmit a more powerful, longer range response. Each RFID tag has a unique identifier, usually a 64-bit to 128 bit number that can have thousands of trillions of possible values.

Who uses RFID tags?

RFID tags are used in a wide range of applications in industry, government, defense and healthcare. They are used to track and monitor inventory, monitor and locate valuable assets, provide secure identity cards or fobs for premisis access, to track disaster victims in an evacuations and for easy and secure contactless payment systems. The greatest advantage of RFID is that it greatly speeds the acquisition and processing of information, since line of site and close physical interaction between the tag and the reader is not necessary, as it is with bar codes and other identification technologies. The applications for RFID systems are continually expanding.

How are RFID systems implemented?

There are many ‘system integrators’ who have packages that provide tags, RFID readers and the software that collects and manages the information gathered by the RFID network. The system integrator provides a ‘soup to nuts’ implementation service for the customer. These systems can be cost effective for standard track and trace applications. Other firms prefer a more customized approach, because their business process does not fit a system integrator’s cookbook, or because they believe they can build a competitive advantage by designing and building the system themselves. That is, the RFID system becomes part of their ‘secret sauce’. In this approach, elements of the system will be customized to the unique requirements of the implementer. In these cases it is highly advantageous for the firm to engage with RFID specialists, who can ensure that the ‘physical layer’ of the system works as it should, i.e. that the readers and tags communicate reliably and consistently. RF engineering is complex, and having experience in deployment is crucial for rapid, successful implementations.

Though your business and process may be unique, RFID technology may help your company. RFID can help you understand in real time where your inventory or assets are, where your employees are, and if those assets and people are secure. If you already monitor this information, RFID can greatly reduce the time spent collecting it, reducing cost and improving accuracy.

RFID asset tags can allow for worldwide tracking as your product travels around the globe, simplifying manufacturing and distribution problems. RFID consultants can create the correct tag for your own company and help improve your business.

Many RFID consulting services can identify and solve RFID problems, while optimizing options just for you. As each business practice and product is unique, so are each business’s needs. Find out what a RFID consultant can do for you.