If you want to know more about RFID technology and how it works, this is your guide!

 

This short guide explains what RFID technology is. The acronym stands for Radio Frequency IDentification and is similar to barcode reading technology but with some differences. 

Tarjeta RFID

 


What is RFID?

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a technology that uses chips smaller than a grain of sand to trace or identify objects at a distance. These tiny chips are called labels, cards or RFID tags and contain antennas that allow them to communicate with a a RFID scanner or terminal, carrying out the same function as barcodes or magnetic strips that you can find on any supermarket product, giving it a unique identification. The advantage of RFID over barcodes or magnetic strips is the range because it can be read at a greater distance.

How does RFID work?

RFID devices are made up`of a tiny chip and an antenna that contains specific information in electromagnetic form and is useful for databases or software. The scanner collects this information as it receives a unique identification number for each product meaning any product can be identified at a distance. The reader emits a series of radiowaves to the chip, which is received via its antena and the information is transmitted back to the reader. Imagine that it like the reader is asking the chip for information and the chip responds with its identification number. 

What is RFID technology used for? 

RFID technology can be used for almost anything. It can be found in many products such as food, clothes, etc. this is called material identification. It is also used in quality control, production methods and best before dates of a certain product. Furthermore, it is also used to identify and track animals and can help detect counterfeit objects and cards. The latest identity cards in Spain and Germany also use this technology, and contain a RFID tag. There are various differing uses of RFID in the industrial sector, such as stock control, quality control, and more. 

What are the advantages of RFID?

There are many advantages over other identification systems like traditional barcodes. For example: we go to the supermarket and we put several products in the trolley which then must be passed through a barcode reader one by one at the checkout. However, if we were to use RFID in these products it wouldn't be necessary to even take them out of the trolley. The RFID reader is able to count and identify all items at the same time without taking them out of the bags, and also can be read at a greater distance and without having to even visually check. Barcodes are designed to identify one type of article, whereas the RFID tag identifies each productly individually as it allows us to store almost an infinite amount of information about that product. RFID technology is faster and more precise than other identification technologies and last much longer enabling companies to save time on the manufacturing and control of their products and thus save money as they can rapidly detect any faulty, broken or stolen products. Aside from the aforementioned advantages, there are many others that make RFID technology seem a promising prospect for both the present and the future as well as being the most widely used among manufacturers.  

What are the disadvantages of RFID?

The main disadvantage of RFID is the price, however, the initial outlay is compensated by its long-term effectiveness. Another disadvantage with these devices is that there can be errors in reading when inserted in liquids or metals. Finally, another disadvantage is that if you are using 2 readers at the same time to obtain information from the same tag, it may not transmit correctly as the devices' radiowaves cross and the tag is not able to respond to 2 requests at the same time.  

¿What types of RFID devices are there?

There are 3 types of RFID tag: 

  • Passive RFID tags: Draw from an external energy source that is activated on reflecting the radiowaves emitted by the reader. They are smaller and cheaper than other tags but have a lesser reading distance and are also disposable. 
  • Passive RFID tags: They include a battery to power them. They are more expensive but have a greater reading distance and have a greater storage capacity. They can also be used with a number of different sensors such as temperature, light, humidity etc.
  • Semi-passive RFID tags: Just like the active tags, these have an internal battery, although in this instance it usually only feeds the microchip. The communication with the reader is the same as passive tags, although the reading time is faster. They tend to last longer than active tags.
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RFID Printers

 

These printers can be used to print RFID labels. This technology allows us to locate any product within the supply chain. As far as traceability goes, the labels are very useful as they can be programmed, so we can know how long the product was stored for and where etc. Companies are able to optimise supply chains using the same product as a base and making itself independent from information systems.

LRFID readers and terminals

 

Readers and PDA type terminals in various formats and are capable to interact with RFID labels to obtain the information that is encoded. Depending on what you may require, you must choose whether they will be able to read low or high frequencies and the reading range offered. 

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