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Ask the Experts: Can RFID Determine the Contents of a Box or Container Without Opening It?

How RFID helps you process shipments quickly and easily.

Knowing what’s inside a container without opening it provides tons of time-saving benefits, no matter what industry you’re in. RFID technology can give you the ‘x-ray eyes’ you need to do this. RFID signals easily penetrate through cardboard, paper, shrink wrap, plastic and other common packing materials. An RFID reader can detect and identify tags on objects that are in boxes, crates and other common containers.

There are several applications where this feature of RFID is especially valuable. If there are priorities for processing received material, RFID makes it easy to find the most important items in a received shipment without opening any of the containers. In situations where large volumes of material need to be received or shipped quickly, you can get counts in seconds without moving or opening boxes. Pallets of shrink-wrapped items can be received and inventoried quickly with the wave of a handheld RFID reader.

Items can have their own individual RFID tag, or cartons of known counts can have tags. The tag ID is associated with the item or carton information in a database, which can be tapped for information when the reader detects the tag. This provides quick and accurate access to information about the items being received, shipped or moved without having to dig into the boxes or pallets.

There are some limitations to this ability. RFID cannot penetrate metal containers. Also, if there are a large number of metal objects in a small space, some of the signals from the reader may be blocked, which would result in uncounted objects from the scan. When designing an application that uses this feature of RFID, you need to make provisions for its known limitations. This is why many businesses work with RFID engineers to figure out the best possible solution.

When you need to see inside a shipment without taking the time to open it, RFID technology can help, and can save you from wasting time, money and effort.

See how RFID can make data access faster and easier for your specific industry here.

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