RFID FAQ

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RFID FAQ <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-02T21:12:32+00:00"></span>
What is RFID? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-10-12T12:58:48+00:00"></span>

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and allows for automatic identification of an item. For more information read this blog post here.

Summary
What is RFID?
Article Name
What is RFID?
Description
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and allows for automatic identification of an item. For more information read this blog post here.
Publisher Name
The Tagging Team Ltd.
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What are the benefits of RFID? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T22:11:49+00:00"></span>

rfid tagging benefits infographic

How to get RFID <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T22:33:04+00:00"></span>

That depends on what you want to achieve with RFID.  Some systems are simple off-the-shelf purchases and some require more research to ensure the best results.  We don’t sell RFID systems, but we do recommend systems based on your needs.  The best place to start is our RFID Needs Assessment. You can find it

Based on the information you provide we will either recommend a system you can buy or suggest a further analysis of your assets to ascertain the best system for you.

 

How does passive RFID work? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:37:23+00:00"></span>

Passive RFID tags are powered by an electromagnet signal that is transmitted from the reader. They use the signal from the reader to charge the tags capacitor, supplying the power needed to communicate.

How does active RFID work? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:36:50+00:00"></span>

Active RFID tags are self-powered, allowing the tag to have a larger communication distance and more memory capabilities.

Can RFID tags be tracked? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:36:35+00:00"></span>

Yes. Active tags can tell you that an item is within 300 feet of a reader, but there are also active RFID real-time location systems (RTLS) that can tell you a tags location. Usually within an impressive 10 feet.

Can RFID tags track equipment? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:35:42+00:00"></span>

Yes. Depending on the RFID system you choose, RFID tracking equipment will automatically update the location of your assets within a database.

Can RFID be used for Vehicle tracking? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:35:27+00:00"></span>

RFID tags are mounted on vehicles and fixed RFID infrastructure is placed at strategic locations such as entry/ exit gates, weigh-bridges, parking lots and equipment. This allows completely automated wireless identification of vehicles without impacting on existing vehicle processes.

Can RFID be used as GPS? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:34:33+00:00"></span>

No, RFID is not the same as GPS.  There are some systems that utilize various methods to enable tags to be tracked through certain points, the RFID tag itself will not contain a GPS tracking capability.

Can RFID track location? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:34:13+00:00"></span>

Not every RFID solution can track the location of an item but Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) can. RTLS is a solution that’s used to identify or track assets in real time in a chosen space. This could be an office building or warehouse etc. This type of technology can be used to track tools, large machinery, packages and even people, and can tell you the location of the tagged item within an area. As the tagged asset moves it sends a transmission to a fixed receiver highlighting the location of the tag.

How does RFID asset tracking work? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T11:48:45+00:00"></span>

RFID quickly improves asset management by utilising its technology to automatically track assets. An RFID asset tracking system transmits data using an electromagnetic field from an RFID tag to a reader. From the construction industry to library services, RFID asset tagging has huge advantages when it comes to real-time tracking, logistics management, data capture, inventory and distribution.

Using a portable RFID reader, usually built into a mobile computer, you can easily scan one or more tagged assets without having line of sight. An RFID reader can be several feet away from the tagged asset and still get an accurate scan. The RFID tags also have a memory chip installed allowing storage of an item’s; location, serial number, manufacturer, photo, use history and even a maintenance schedule. And with an operational RFID based asset tracking / management system, you have a live asset database that’s accurate.

How can RFID improve supply chain management? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T11:49:08+00:00"></span>

RFID can improve visibility from the point of manufacture, throughout the supply chain and within stores, right from the stock room to the shop floor. Even to the point it leaves the store at sale.

Every supply chain asset can be uniquely identified by; size, colour, type and manufacturer etc. This allows for effective inventory control and visibility, allowing retailers to increase sales and reduce out of stock items both in store and online.

How does RFID help in inventory management? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T11:49:38+00:00"></span>

RFID provides quick, precise identification for inventory management. It allows items to be identified faster and much more reliably. The speed of data capture using an RFID system is less than 5% of the time taken in a manual process and stores have shown an 8% – 10% sales growth from knowing what they have in real time. Using RFID technology for real time stock analysis means popular items don’t run out of stock and you know where your assets are at all times.

How does RFID work in a library? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T11:49:57+00:00"></span>

In libraries RFID tags replace both the EM security strips and barcode on each book and AV item. Providing the ability for self check out / check in, advanced anti theft detection and high-speed inventory checking.

 

Can RFID reader read NFC? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:33:25+00:00"></span>

NFC refers to Near Field Communication, most modern smartphones incorporate NFC within them.  So you can use an NFC device to read RFID information but an RFID reader would need something to actually read, NFC is simply the communication method not actual data.

Can RFID tags be reprogrammed? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:33:41+00:00"></span>

Some RFID tags can be re-written some not, it depends on the application the tags have been made for.  As RFID tags have an internal microchip this can be programmed to either accept or reject re-write requests, this helps with security and stops malicious data changing on tags that are used for door entry for instance.  But, hotels often use RFID cards that can be re-programmed for each new guest.  It depends on the application required for the specific tag.

 

Can RFID tags be duplicated? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:33:56+00:00"></span>

The nature of the use of RFID tags is that they denote a specific asset, person or thing, so duplication of tags is not a common use case.  If there was a need then an RFID emulator could be used to copy data from one tag to another.

Can RFID tags get wet? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:34:13+00:00"></span>

RFID tags are durable, small and thin enough to be attached or embedded into products. This means that they are much less vulnerable to water damage.  There are specific tags manufactured to withstand water damage, to differing degrees depending on the intended application.  Some washable tags are used in laundry, some water and pressure resistant tags are used in deep sea applications.  The important thing is the casing around the aerial and microchip.

Can RFID measure distance? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:34:37+00:00"></span>

RFID is not a set up to locate assets and store or send location details, it will say it’s passed this point or it’s within range of this reader, but, it won’t give you precise positioning data. That makes measuring distance difficult, it’s not an application that RFID was designed for.

Can RFID reader read multiple tags? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T19:34:53+00:00"></span>

Yes. To achieve this, RFID readers make use of anti-collision algorithms, enabling a single reader to read more than one tag.

Can RFID read through metal? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:33:09+00:00"></span>

RFID signals can’t pass through metal. Radio waves sent by a passive RFID system reader to the tag would bounce off the metal and never actually reach the tag itself.  Some new tags being developed (August 2017) will utilize metal to enhance the signal generated by RFID rather than block it, this will mean RFID will work better around metal, but the signal will never pass through metal.

How does RFID prevent theft? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:32:55+00:00"></span>

Anti-shoplifting alarms use the RF (radio-frequency) part of RFID technology.

When you walk into a shop you walk though gates that are used to read radio wave signals. So when an item is tagged, if it passes through the gates without having been deactivated on purchase then it generates tiny electrical currents that send radio waves to the reader (in the door gates). These radio signals alert the reader that the tag is still active and in turn sound an alarm.

What is RFID read range? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:32:36+00:00"></span>

Low Frequency RFID will provide a short read range of around 10cm

High Frequency RFID will provide a read range of between 10cm and 1m.

Ultra High Frequency RFID will provide a read range as long as 12m

Will RFID replace barcodes? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:32:22+00:00"></span>

Every year RFID picks up pace and in a lot of industries is becoming a must-have technology. This is because the capabilities of RFID are huge and surpass the more traditional forms of identification, such as barcodes. As RFID technology evolves there will be less need for barcode use.

Is RFID secure? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:32:08+00:00"></span>

That depends on the specific RFID system, how it’s designed, what safeguards are built in and what level of security fits the use case.  Most RFID systems only use data that’s useful to the asset owner, in those cases there’s not much need for security.  In other cases, the tags can be protected from data theft by built in security.

What information is stored on an RFID tag? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:31:52+00:00"></span>

RFID tags have a memory chip installed allowing storage of an item’s; location, serial number, manufacturer, photo, use history, a maintenance schedule and much more. The speed of this data capture using an RFID system is less than 5% of the time taken in a manual process.

What various network capabilities does the RFID Network work off of? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:31:32+00:00"></span>

WiFi – Connecting to a network can be done using a strong WiFi connection.

Bluetooth – Bluetooth will allow an RFID reader to connect to a computer and remain wireless throughout the process. This means Bluetooth can be used on handhelds for connecting to smart devices like phones and tablets.

LAN – Local Area Network. This option would mean using an Ethernet cable to join a network. Once on the network, the reader can interact with connected devices.

Serial – Connect directly to a host computer using serial ports. This would be used for systems using only one reader.

How much do RFID tags cost? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:31:19+00:00"></span>

RFID tags can come in many forms and sizes and can cost as little as £0.06 pence or as much as £7.00. It all depends on your RFID needs.

How much do RFID readers cost? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:31:06+00:00"></span>

This depends a lot on which type of RFID system is being used and how good the reader needs to be.  Readers are available from a little as a few hundred pounds up to many thousands of pounds.

How much do RFID scanners cost? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:30:54+00:00"></span>

This depends a lot on which type of RFID system is being used and how good the scanner needs to be.  Scanners are available from a little as a few hundred pounds up to many thousands of pounds.

How much do RFID systems cost? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:33:54+00:00"></span>

This depends a lot on which type of RFID system is being purchased, with which RFID technology (HF / UHF / UWB/  – Active or Passive Tags). A simple passive tag system using HF could track thousands of assets for less than a £3,000.  A high-end system using active tags and UHF could cost many thousands of pounds.

The important question around cost is what can be saved in monetary terms from an RFID system. If you have a problem locating, losing or correctly allocating assets then an RFID system could save more than it costs in a very short timescale.

How long before I recoup my outlay? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:34:56+00:00"></span>

The return on investment is the main value of an asset tracking system, but again it depends what you need to achieve and what you pay to achieve that. If you send people to sites and they can’t complete a job that’s a considerable waste of money, if you have to buy new equipment because you’ve lost, had stolen or simply misplaced existing equipment that’s also expensive. Getting a return on your investment comes down to how much money you currently waste through lack of control of your equipment. Can you calculate what that wasted time and additional equipment costs? If you can then it’s easy enough to work out how long it will take to recoup your outlay once you know what you’re paying. There are other elements to consider though. Some systems will cost more upfront than others, but most asset tracking systems have an on-going cost based on the number of assets you’re tracking.  This can make the cost minimal as an initial capital outlay and low as an on-going cost, which is saving you money continually. The type of system you buy, the amount of assets that need tracking and what technology you use will all affect the initial outlay. A barcode system will be cheaper to set up and shouldn’t cost too much to operate, but it relies on a lot of manual work to keep it up-to-date. An RFID system will cost more to set up and a reasonable amount to continue tracking you’re assets, if it’s the right system and you know what you can save then you can calculate your return on outlay easily. A Bluetooth system, utilising BLE tags (Bluetooth Low Energy) will offer a superior system with lower set up costs than RFID, the on-going cost will be reasonable and should offer considerable value against your investment.

What does an onsite analysis consist of? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:35:11+00:00"></span>

It depends who does it, and to a point why they are doing it.  Some companies, Hilti On!Track for instance, will charge for an Onsite Analysis, they’re building a database of your assets during the process and using that data to present a solution to you for purchase.  Other companies will offer this as part of the sales process and will not charge for it, but this analysis may be more about understanding your assets than building a database of them. We offer a free onsite analysis, once you’ve completed the needs assessment via our form

. Our onsite analysis is designed to understand what assets you have, what your objectives are, how a system can achieve those objectives and what tags should be used to ensure everything works. We’ve seen attempts at RFID systems particularly that didn’t work, that’s what we’ll ensure doesn’t happen for our clients. If the suggested technology isn’t fit for purpose we’ll advise against its use.

How long will installation take? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:36:19+00:00"></span>

This depends heavily on the type of system you’re buying and the amount of assets you need to be tracked. Most hardware installations can be completed in a day, most software installation are cloud based and the setup is quick and easy. More advanced systems will integrate with your existing management software, that could take more time to complete. Tagging your assets is an essential element of the process so we’d always suggest you use a specialist for this, if it goes badly the system will not work. The timescale for tagging depends on the asset types, where they are, what they are, what tags are going to be applied and how much data is added to each record. As a guide, a single tagging specialist would process around 130-150 assets per day depending on the factors mentioned. If you needed 500 assets processing that could be done in 3-4 days by one specialist or 1 day by 3-4 tagging specialists.

Will installation impact my day-to-day business? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:37:07+00:00"></span>

Potentially it will, all your assets need tagging, therefore they need to be available and not being used during the process. This can be planned to have as little impact as possible, weekend tagging is available from us to ensure minimum disruption if required.

Have similar businesses to mine installed this solution? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:37:36+00:00"></span>

Many different businesses have installed asset tracking (tool tracking) systems, some more successful than others, depending on the system purchased, how it was implemented, who did the tagging and how well the project was planned. We’ve seen very successful projects and some not so successful. It’s all in the honest presentation of what can be achieved for what price. Opting for a cheaper system is probably not the answer, opting for a basic system like barcode probably isn’t either unless your team is willing, and has the time to manually input all tool movements.

What benefits have businesses achieved with RFID? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:38:08+00:00"></span>

The benefits of asset tracking depend entirely on the system you buy. A barcode system will offer some information as to what you have, which is often not what you think you have, and who is in control of what assets. But it relies on that data being kept up to date. An RFID or BLE system can offer a lot more. Potentially you’ll have the ability to know exactly who has what and where it is, when it was last serviced, if it’s due a PAT test or if it was left somewhere by one of your team. There are systems that will link to your project management system and let, for example, an engineer know if they’re leaving for a job without the required equipment. Or they can scan their whole vehicle in seconds and know exactly what’s in there, and often more importantly what isn’t in there. They can do the same before they leave a site, ensuring no expensive equipment is left behind. The level of benefits attainable is commensurate with the level of system you buy.

How soon could someone visit my business to discuss RFID / BLE options? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T21:38:21+00:00"></span>

We can visit within a week or two at the most, the first thing we need to understand is what you are looking for, the best way to do that is through our quick questionnaire

Is RFID a one off charge or will there be an on-going cost? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T22:36:17+00:00"></span>

There is usually both a one-off charge for the system and an on-going management cost.

How long does the guarantee last and what does it cover? <span class="sdata2" title="2017-09-01T22:36:31+00:00"></span>

This depends on the system supplier, but, with a system that has an on-going charge then it’s incumbent upon the provider to ensure that it actually works, or you’ll stop paying for it understandably.  This is one of the benefits of the model being used for managing asset tracking data; an on-going small fee ensures your system is maintained and working throughout. Hardware, like an RFID reader or a Bluetooth Beacon is another question, the hardware will have a life cycle and a guarantee for a period of time, this will depend on the manufacturer of that hardware and any additional guarantees the supplier wants to provide.

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