RFID, everything about radio frequency identification technology
Radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, is a modern positioning system intended for tracking assets or persons. The platform consists of software, readers and RFID tags (transponders) installed outside or inside the building. Identification via RFID tracking is carried out by means of radio signals that allow the reader to define and record the data stored in tags.
RFID working principles
A tag is a tiny device consisting of a microchip for storing information and an antenna that directs the received data to a reader. A special shell, placed in a plastic case with fastening elements for attaching to goods or objects, is used for protecting the chip and the antenna against the effects of external environment.
The reader can be manual or stationary and can work with antennas of any types. The software includes an engine, additional server and client modules which ensure simple deployment of a RFID tracking system of any complexity.
In order to recognize the data, stored in the RFID tag, the reader sends a signal to the transponder. The tag answers the request by means of radio frequency emissions where the information, necessary for identification, is encrypted. Then, the reader receives the signal and directs the data to the computer with special software for further processing.
Classification of RFID tags
Tags in the system of radio frequency identification have a wide classification which defines their configuration, assignment and ways of application.
By source of energy
Based on the source of energy, transponders can be of the following types:
- Passive – devices without their own source of energy which transmit information by means of modulation of the reflected radio signals of the carrier frequency. High frequency tags have the transmission distance from 1 sm to 2 m, super- and ultra-high frequency transponders – within 1-10 m.
- Active – equipped with a built-in battery; they have a more overall size. The active RFID tag is able to reproduce outgoing signals of a higher level in comparison with passive transponders and read at the distance of 300 m.
- Semi-passive – tiny microchips with their own battery. The range of such devices is defined by the reader’s sensitivity.
By used memory
The transponder can be used for recording or only for reading depending on the type of memory in the micro-chip:
- Read Only – data is recorded only once at the time of manufacture. During operation, the user can’t add any information to the tag or delete an already existing one. Such transponders are most suitable for identifying goods in shops.
- Write Once Read Many – information is recorded once but can be read many times. Deleting data from the tag is impossible. Such tags are used in warehousing and transport logistics.
- Read and Write – allow multiple recording and reading. Such tags are used, for example, for monitoring the access to forbidden zones or areas (in the form of access cards, badges, etc.).
RFID location tracking technology does not restrict manufacturers in the form and execution of transponders. They can be produced in the following forms:
- Stickers – thin stickers, made of paper or plastic, where any information about the goods can be printed.
- Packaged tags - devices in a plastic or glass case which protect the chip against pollution, moisture, or accidental drops.
- Labels, tags – similar to stickers, can be integrated into chipped objects. They are often applied on fabric or product itself.
- Inlay – have a polyethylene or plastic base; are used for making bank or club cards, passes.
- Special transponders – made for solving certain tasks. For example, they can be used in screws while chipping trees or can be made in the form of bracelets for participants of some events or patients of some medical institutions, thus, employers can use RFID to track people.
The modern indoor positioning system using RFID is used in different spheres, including commerce, industry, transport and logistics.
Using the technology in industry ensures management process automation and clear coordination of the staff work. With the help of tags, it’s possible to perform various tasks: tagging materials, commodities, packages, vehicles, equipment. This technology is in great demand especially in the automobile industry.
Tracking with RFID is suitable for creating contactless travel cards in public transport. It allows improving the process of getting payments from passengers and reducing expenses of transport companies. Tags are often used for automating toll roads. They can help to protect road users against violations and track vehicles with excessive speed.
In logistics the system helps tracking vehicles and goods. Tags are convenient to use while accepting or loading goods from the warehouse or for inspecting the technical condition of vehicles which deliver goods. Many logistics companies use transponders in sea container traffic. The RFID locator contains the information on the cargo in containers and lets the owner track his goods from one place to another.
In commerce the usage of RFID solves the following tasks:
- recording revenues and expenditures;
- preventing theft;
- defining forgeries for removing them from the assortment;
- automating warehouse activities;
- gathering statistics for analyzing.
The tag is placed on every product and scanned at the checkpoint while selling. The given information is automatically directed to the general database of the shop and the regulatory authorities, which helps to avoid big volumes of additional work.
Advantages and disadvantages of RFID technology
RFID technology allows automating most production and trade processes. By implementing this system, it is possible to improve the performance of the enterprise, increase profit and minimize failures. The key advantages are:
- possibility of identification at a large distance – up to 300 m;
- no requirements to direct visibility of objects;
- resistance to pollutants, moisture;
- enhanced security thanks to unique coding algorithms;
- possibility of overwriting information;
- effective performance irrespective of the tag location regarding the reader;
- possibility of reading more than a thousand RFID tags per second at a time.
But the system has its disadvantages. It is rather expensive, differs in incomplete openness of developed standards and can face interference in case of electromagnetic radiation. However, all these flaws are outweighed by possibilities for multi-purpose application, long-term service and bigger volumes of data storage.
Navigine develops indoor navigation systems and offers customers a geolocation platform using RFID tags. We look forward to new partnerships with tech companies, mobile app developers, and systems integrators who are developing navigation technologies such as RFID.