Learn About RFID

RFID—radio frequency identification—is a mean of identifying objects via a wireless communication protocol, a capability that enables myriad advantages and breakthroughs in applications ranging from supply chain management to asset tracking to authentication of frequently counterfeited pharmaceuticals. For RFID applications ranging from retail to pharmaceuticals, food safety to event timing, real-time inventory management, greater supply chain visibility, strategic data mining, improved consumer experience, and more.

An RFID system is desired to be introduced in large gate management systems because it can read the ID of a large number of target objects simultaneously in the field of logistics and retail business. Especially, UHF RFID has gathered significant interest since it has the advantage of long distance reading and low cost of tags.
Some have likened RFID to an electronic barcode, which is an oversimplification. RFID technology goes far beyond the capability of passive, non-unique printed graphics (barcodes) that require line-of-sight to readers, lack interactivity, cannot be used to identify unique objects, and are easily counterfeited or otherwise compromised.

RFID tags are sophisticated, intelligent devices that carry unique, field-updatable information. They leverage huge efficiencies not only in time, cost, and labor, but in unprecedented supply chain visibility. These are just a few of the reasons driving major retailers, the Department of Defense, the FDA, and other organizations and entities to mandate the deployment of RFID technology.

A typical RFID system consists of three primary components: tags, readers, and reader antennas.

New generation RFID projects are succesfully accomplished by the implementation of Intelligent Reading Units, a plug & play RFID smart device that consist of all components needed (antenna, enclosure protection, industry reading readers, computing with Linux OS, Middleware software embedded, active sensors for specific needs and cloud based management and link to ERP or other higher level Software ).

Example of Intelligent Reading Units for Outdoor applications, developed by  TRACKEON , a true plug & play device that can be directly connected to Business Application, as it also has Middleware software embedded.  It helps Solution Providers and System Integrators implement projects with less cost, shorter lifecycles and also avoiding risks derived from the typical try-and-error Radio Frequency projects.

Main RFID project components

1. RFID Tags

An RFID tag generally comprises an integrated circuit (IC or chip) that has been mounted on a flexible PET (PolyEthyleneTherephtalate) or paper substrate, which has been preprinted with conductive ink (or assembled with an etched, stamped, or vapor-deposited antenna pattern), according to the particular antenna design.

How do RFID tags work? Fundamentally, they operate on the same basis as other wireless devices like your cordless or cellular phones or wireless LAN: an antenna attached to the tag chip’s electrical circuits radiates electromagnetic waves through the air in a manner defined by a particular communications protocol. The specific frequency of those waves is expressed in Hertz (cycles per second). The protocol of interest to this discussion is the EPCglobal ultra-high frequency (UHF) Gen 2 standard—a single worldwide standard that defines tag and reader communications operating in the 860 MHz to 960 MHz frequency band.

UHF Gen 2 tags are passive devices that operate without the use of a battery. Instead, they “harvest” the electromagnetic energy emitted by an in-range reader, converting that energy into the DC power required to operate the chip. Being thus powered, the chip can communicate with the reader.

Communication flow is in either the reader-to-tag or tag-to-reader direction. The tag transmits digital information to the reader by reflecting, or backscattering, part of the energy transmitted to it by the reader. This backscatter reflection is the mechanism by which the tag “talks back” to the reader; the reflected signal is modulated according to the appropriate communications protocol to transmit data to the reader.

The Gen 2 protocol involves a series of commands and tag responses that control the communications between readers and what might potentially be a large population of tags within the readers’ zones of operation.

Convenient as it would be, there is no single best tag antenna design for every application operating in every region of the world. As a result, there has been a proliferation of specially optimized forms and configurations, whether they’re designed for palletized cases or small items. Tag size, form factor, cost, orientation sensitivity, and range are a few of the tradeoffs to consider when making a tag selection. Some tags might be optimized for a particular frequency band, while others might be tuned for good performance when attached to materials with particular dielectric characteristics (cardboard versus glass, for example). Others still might be more general purpose in scope, working reasonably well across the entire UHF spectrum, in free space or affixed to an item. Inlays and converted labels powered by Impinj technology are available with a multitude of antenna form factors from our partners.

 2.RFID Readers

The reader, also known as an interrogator, is a device that provides network connectivity between tag data and enterprise system software. The reader communicates with the RFID tags within its field of operation, performing any number of operations including simple continuous inventorying, filtering (searching for tags that meet certain criteria), writing to selected tags, etc.

The reader uses its antenna to send information encoded in a modulated waveform as well as the tone that the tag uses to power itself. A receiver circuit on the tag is able to detect the modulated field, decode the information, and use its own antenna to send (backscatter) a response.

Readers may be fixed (dock door or shelf installations), mobile (installed on a forklift or hand-held), or in the form of a module contained within a printer/encoder.

3.RFID Reader Antennas

Reader antennas, like tag antennas, may also assume form factors appropriate to their application. For example, antennas may be fitted to dock doors, embedded in store shelves or racks, fitted within a point-of-sale terminal, or integrated into the guide rails of conveyor equipment.

How do reader antennas work? In basic terms, an antenna converts electrical current into electromagnetic waves that are then radiated into space in a particular pattern at a given level of intensity. The parameters of greatest interest to the tag are polarization (or the reader antenna wave’s electric field vector, orientation, and direction) and the power level of the transmission.

A linearly polarized antenna radiates entirely in one plane in the direction of signal propagation, while with a circularly polarized antenna, the plane of polarization rotates in a circular fashion (effectively a corkscrew when considered in time), making a complete revolution during one period of the wave.

4. RFID Software to manage information

Forrester Research defines RFID middleware as “Platforms for managing RFID data and routing it between tag readers or other auto identification devices and enterprise systems.”

Middleware RFID is a computer program that controls one or more RFID Interrogators and allows the data captured by those devices to be routed to another system. The needed prerequisites in order to effectively support RFID standards are: being compatible with RFID readers and being integrated with the relevant business operations, like ERP, Healthcare, Information System, Warehouse application and so on…Our Middleware satisfies these criteria and embedded those solutions in the RFID readers.

Check out our RFID solution consisting on software.

Automated RFID reads in gates and tag direction.

Customers using an RFID gate system require several convenient functions. One of them is to know the tag movement direction for the purpose of recognition in warehousing or shipment for inventory management. Moreover it can check for undesirable objects or prevent theft. For this purpose, some sensors are established at the entrance and the exist side of the gate system in an existing system. Therefore the direction of movement of tags is judged by the time difference in the passing time at these sensors.