Technology is a wonderful thing and it’s getting better every day. Devices are becoming smaller, faster, and smarter, making our lives immeasurably easier. Business, and in particular small to medium businesses, are reaping the most rewards from modern technology. Devices which cost millions of dollars a decade ago are now affordable to even modest enterprises. RFID tags are a great example of this.
What are RFID tags?
Short for Radio Frequency Identification, RFID tags have been around for years, but only now are they becoming widespread throughout the world.
They’re so common now you’ve probably used one before without even realising. They can be found in passports, public transport cards, and automatic road toll payments.
As the name suggests, they use radio waves to transmit data, and this information can be used for everything from security to product tracking and stock take.
How do RFID tags work?
The RFID tag is made up of 2 simple parts; a circuit and an antenna.
When this circuit comes into contact with radio waves at certain frequencies (low, high and ultra-high), an electrical field is created which powers the circuit.
This means that the tags don’t require their own separate power source to work, and so cuts down on size and cost.
By simply passing a reader over the tag, the information is sent, and can then be stored on a computer.
What can RFID tags be used for?
Information is power as they say, and RFID tags help keep the business world going with a vast array of diverse uses.
Production Line Tracking
Even on the production line RFID tags are used.
By following where products are being assembled and how long each section takes, slow points in the system can be identified and improved.
If you’ve ever used a hotel keycard to use an elevator, then you’ve probably used an RFID chip.
Because the information stored on them can be anything you want, you can grant access to certain places and rooms to individual chips.
The reader simply checks what’s on the chip with an access list, and if it’s on there, opens the door!
RFID tags have a real advantage over barcodes when it comes to shipment tracking.
Because they don’t need a line of sight to work – you simply pass the reader near them – there is no need to unpack shipments and scan everything individually.
Shipments can be scanned in bulk, making the tracking process faster and cheaper.
RFID tags are perfect for stock-taking and finding lost inventory, especially for businesses which have a high turn-over or rent items out.
Libraries now use the technology to keep track of their books, keeping their lists up-to-date and helping speed up the checkout and returns process.
Security and anti-theft
As an anti-theft device, RIFD tags are a cheaper alternative to bulky and expensive security tags.
The security gates at the front door send out the radio frequency needed to activate the chip. If a tag goes through the gates without first being deactivated at the till the radio waves power the chip and set off the alarm.
Types of RFID tags
The entry-level product is simply a RFID tag that is overprinted with a bar code or other variable information. This label carries a self-adhesive backing, which is then used to apply to a separate swing tag or product packaging.
Integrated Swing Tag
The integrated swing tag product is either covert or overt. The covert solution either encases the tag device (either RFID or AM) within the swing tag. The overt solution applies the tag device to one side of the swing tag. In either case the swing tag can either be plain (unprinted) or can carry brand imagery, as well as other variable information on the item for use at point of sale.
Integrated Woven Label
The integrated woven label product looks like a traditional woven label, however it is manufactured as a ‘pocket’ that houses the RFID tag. After sale, the woven pocket is generally removed by the consumer to prevent reactivation, so this solution is generally of a generic nature, and doesn’t usually carry any form of branding.