RFID is a type of auto ID technology that uses radio waves (as the name Radio Frequency Identification denotes) to identify, monitor and manage individual objects as they move between physical locations. So, RFID is a smart sensing technology. The RFID Technology has been compared with the existing and well-established competing Bar-coding Technology.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is enabling companies to see further into the supply chain than ever before, providing more accurate real-time information and improvements in process efficiency. The increased visibility can result in faster inventory turns, less shrinkage, reduced labor and higher material flow through your warehouse or distribution center. Greater efficiency means RFID enabled processes take less time and effort; entire pallets of product can be recognized in seconds without the need to break them down, and cycle counting inventory can be accomplished in hours or even minutes instead of days.
Components of RFID: There are two major devices supported by the interfacing software.
RFID Tag: It is a very small device having a chip that holds stored digital information and antenna that communicates with the receiver.
RFID Reader: It is a comparatively larger device that communicates with RFID tags to check the stored data. When the RFID reader excites the tag using radio waves, the tag responds by transmitting the code that is stored inside it.
Tags or Ransponders
RFID tags are barcodes having electronically programmed unique information. A finished tag encapsulates all the information and the small chip and the antenna mounted on it.
The tags can be applied to containers, pallets, cases or individual items. Tags can be classified based on three criteria: Power Source, Frequency and Encoding Method. Depending upon the applications and environment, RFID tags have different range of durability. Paper-thin tags referred as “Smart Labels” can be used for disposable applications also. On these tags special Radio Frequency enabled printing is done.
Bar-coding V/s RFID
Bar coding is the currently adopted technology. It seems that RFID and Bar coding are competing technologies. But, in fact, both the technologies are complementary to each other. It is more economical to replace the barcodes on every item with RFID tag. To start with, both the technologies can be used simultaneously and gradually the whole infrastructure for RFID can be developed. The reason for advocating the usage of RFID is the significant advantage provided by it over and above the bar coding. Barcodes must be scanned at specific orientation to establish line of sight. But RFID does not require it. RFID tags need only to be in the range of reader to be read or scanned.
Benefits of RFID:
¾ Get information more than that given on packing
¾ Relaxation from waiting in queue at checkouts
¾ Hassle-free shopping by Interactive shelves and easy accessibility
¾ Quicker response to requests made
¾ Items can be located conveniently
¾ Saves time