Smart labels are an increasingly popular way to keep items safe, and RFID or radio frequency identification is at the top of the list. Smart labels are sensitive to pressure and all have some kind of inlay or transponder located under the label itself. RFID security labels are really part of a wireless system.
RFID offers a way for businesses to improve efficiency where the management of their assets is the priority. Often, RFID represents only one facet of a complete system which also includes bar codes and manual data entry.
Because of their capacity to handle varying amounts of information from a single number to several pages’ worth of data, RFID tags can be found most anywhere. Other means of tracking such as barcodes can only hold a small amount of information, and only in a single format.
Types of RFID
There are two options if you are choosing RFID for tracking and security purposes: passive and active.
Along with a reader, the passive RFID system works to communicate certain information to nearby customers. The reader emits radio waves, but also receives signals from surrounding tags. Passive RFID readers can have fixed or mobile readers. A fixed reader system allows assets to be monitored on a continuous basis without human input.
The active RFID system has no reader because the tag itself is one. This type of system is very useful for monitoring products and other assets over a large area without the need for manual activation or monitoring and human input.
Of course, each has its own disadvantages. The passive RFID system, for example can present a challenge to mount in some scenarios. As well, drops in the network can cause difficulty in maintaining communication with the RFID reader. The active RFID system’s large tags can make these readers difficult to mount also. As well, the lifecycle of active tags is 5 years, and network access to them can be a daunting task to provide.
Why is RFID Popular?
The reasons that several business owners are choosing to use RFID tags are many. RFID tags work without needing any line of sight, where their barcode counterparts must be able to be seen and read by lasers. As well, the barcode system requires not only the barcode itself to be clean and free of damage, but the ‘eye’ of the reader must also be clean and clear.
RFID tag systems, whether active or passive can withstand all kinds of weather and temperature extremes. They are also able to be read from some distance away, making their information accessible from virtually anywhere.
As stated previously, the fact that a single tag can store pages of information makes it a small database with incredibly high portability. Not only that, but multiple RFID tags can be read at one time, as well as have information sent to them simultaneously. A barcode’s information is not able to be changed once it has been encoded.
Another reason why RFID tags are so popular is that equipment, people or items can be tracked in real time. This alone has several benefits, including the ability to track something or someone that has left a designated area during off hours, which can prevent thousands of pounds in tampering and theft.
Of course, bar codes are still an ideal means of tracking smaller assets, as well those items that need to remain free of clutter or be aesthetically pleasing. At the end of the day, choosing to implement an RFID system will include a significant upfront cost. However, the many benefits of using this system for security purposes tend to far outweigh the disadvantages.