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All about RFID

What is RFID Technology ? - Radio-frequency identification (RFID)

What is RFID Technology ?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders.

An RFID tag is an object that can be stuck on or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radiowaves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a (RF) signal and can also be used for other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal. A technology called chipless RFID allows for discrete identification of tags without an integrated circuit, thereby allowing tags to be printed directly onto assets at lower cost than traditional tags.

Today, a significant thrust in RFID use is in enterprise supply chain management, improving the efficiency of inventory tracking and management. However, a threat is looming that the current growth and adoption in enterprise supply chain market will not be sustainable. A fair cost-sharing mechanism, rational motives and justified returns from RFID technology investments are the key ingredients to achieve long-term and sustainable RFID technology adoption.


During 2005 and 2006, RFID, (Radio Frequency Identification), looks set to experience unprecedented growth as the world wakes up to the potential of this technology, driven by major global enterprises in the fast moving consumer goods supply chain. This growth is being led by developments in UHF RFID systems where the promise of greater read range and faster data capture offered by UHF is considered to be important.

UHF certainly has great potential in the USA where the radio regulatory environment is favorable for UHF emissions. However this is not the case on a global basis, where other regions and countries impose greater restrictions in the use of UHF for RFID particularly in respect to power output and bandwidth.

As far as Europe is concerned, considerable efforts have been undertaken to relax the European model to allow performance closer to that enjoyed in the US, and this committee driven political process has taken some years to reach full fruition.

However, all good things are worth waiting for, and ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) has recently (September 2004) announced approval of a revised standard for UHF RFID which allows the use of 2 watts (from the previous half a watt) output power over a 2MHz bandwidth, between 865.6 and 867.6 MHz.

This will give read range performance about 75% of US levels, albeit with operational restrictions which may inhibit tag throughput at least initially. BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES www.barcode-uk.com see this as a major step forward for the use of RFID in general in Europe since it will act as a catalyst for RFID market growth across all frequencies. However UHF is only a part of the RFID spectrum of frequencies, and in any event will probably be used mostly for specific elements of an identification requirement where long range is important e.g. pallet identification at warehouse dock doors.

It is likely that for identification of smaller logistics units, cartons, trays, and individual items, other RFID frequencies for various reasons will be more appropriate, particularly 13.56 MHz , and also the good old barcode.

BARCOIDE TECHNOLOGIES has extensive experience in RFID, and a long pedigree of building readers and antennas to suit specific RFID requirements. We are able to provide solutions in all of these technologies, and where our advice is sought, we will always approach any application with a totally open mind with regard to the choice of the most appropriate technology, be it RFID of any frequency, or barcode or other.

Please look at the RFID products section of this website, to get a flavor of some of the best RFID product in the market that is available from BARCOIDE TECHNOLOGIES, some of it developed and branded by us, some from our key partners. In the case of handheld RFID readers, this product can be shipped directly by our distribution team together with tags for use in simple track and trace applications.

RFID
During 2005 and 2006, RFID, (Radio Frequency Identification), looks set to experience unprecedented growth as the world wakes up to the potential of this technology, driven by major global enterprises in the fast moving consumer goods supply chain. This growth is being led by developments in UHF RFID systems where the promise of greater read range and faster data capture offered by UHF is considered to be important.

UHF certainly has great potential in the USA where the radio regulatory environment is favourable for UHF emissions. However this is not the case on a global basis, where other regions and countries impose greater restrictions in the use of UHF for RFID particularly in respect to power output and bandwidth.

As far as Europe is concerned, considerable efforts have been undertaken to relax the European model to allow performance closer to that enjoyed in the US, and this committee driven political process has taken some years to reach full fruition.

However, all good things are worth waiting for, and ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) has recently (September 2004) announced approval of a revised standard for UHF RFID which allows the use of 2 watts (from the previous half a watt) output power over a 2MHz bandwidth, between 865.6 and 867.6 MHz.

This will give read range performance about 75% of US levels, albeit with operational restrictions which may inhibit tag throughput at least initially. BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES LTD see this as a major step forward for the use of RFID in general in Europe since it will act as a catalyst for RFID market growth across all frequencies. However UHF is only a part of the RFID spectrum of frequencies, and in any event will probably be used mostly for specific elements of an identification requirement where long range is important e.g. pallet identification at warehouse dock doors.

It is likely that for identification of smaller logistics units, cartons, trays, and individual items, other RFID frequencies for various reasons will be more appropriate, particularly 13.56 MHz , and also the good old barcode.

BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES LTD has extensive experience in RFID, and a long pedigree of building readers and antennas to suit specific RFID requirements. We are able to provide solutions in all of these technologies, and where our advice is sought, we will always approach any application with a totally open mind with regard to the choice of the most appropriate technology, be it RFID of any frequency, or barcode or other.

Please look at the RFID products section of this website, to get a flavour of some of the best RFID product in the market that is available from BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES LTD, some of it developed and branded by us, some from our key partners. In the case of handheld RFID readers, this product can be shipped directly by our distribution team together with tags for use in simple track and trace applications.

With fixed, unattended, RFID systems the situation is different. These systems require a serious level of installation and setup and an in-depth knowledge of the RF air interface, in order to work properly. We only deliver these systems through our RFID professional services team, who have a deep understanding of the technology and what it takes to make it work reliably in-situ.

Please browse through the product selection, and feel free to call our professional services team for initial outline advice for your next potential RFID project.

How does RFID work?
RFID works by wireless communication across an air interface. All RFID systems have the basic components shown here.

Tag Power Options
Passive Tags - These tags have no internal battery, and the tag derives its power from the RF field of the reader. As a result they are small, light and low cost and have a virtually unlimited life.

Active Tags - Powered by an internal battery, so these tags have a finite life (7 to 10 years), but have a much greater range than passive tags (up to 100 meters).

Operational Frequency
Very few frequencies are available globally for the use of RFID. The most widely accepted are:

125-134kHz

Low Frequency

13.56MHz

High Frequency

865-928MHz

Ultra High Frequency

2.45 GHz

Microwave


Tag Programming Options

Read Only

Numbered at source by the tag manufacturer

Worm

Write Once Read Many (numbered by the user)

Read/Write

Regularly updated data


Data Options
Data options are from single bit (EAS), to simple read-only, to several kilobits read/write, with sophisticated security features, and anti-collision capability (read many tags within the field). It takes a finite time to transfer data. This is important to take into account if a tag is passing swiftly through a read zone.

Typical data transfer rates:

Low Frequency -

2 to 4 kilobits per second

High frequency -

25 kilobits per second (106 kbps for proximity non-contact smart cards

Ultra High Frequency -

10-160kbps (Philips UCODE HSL).


Environmental Factors
Environmental factors can affect performance. High permeability metals detune antennas in tags and readers - usually results in severely reduced read range.

Inductive systems (125 kHz and 13.56MHz) are more susceptible to this than UHF systems, where signals are reflected from metals surfaces.

The effect can be minimised by spacing from a metal surface (5 to 10 mm) and by ferrite backing to HF tags.

UHF and microwave tags are affected by moisture absorption.

Inductive systems are relatively unaffected by moisture.

Call BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES LTD RFID professional services team on Tel: 01442 872232

9 CANALSIDE NORTHBRIDGE ROAD BERKHAMSTED HERTFORDSHIRE HP4 1EG TEL: 01442 872232 FAX: 01442 871178