Ruddersoft Official Blog - An IT Service Company in India

What Is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)?

  • Ravi Pal
  • Jul 04, 2023
  • RFID System
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“Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that uses electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track RFID-tagged objects.”

Industry 4.0 is defined by modern technological development in terms of IoT and AI and Machine learning and their utilization to propel industrial growth. Unlike Industry 3.0, this is the era of automation, simulation, 3D printing, Blockchain technology, digital twins, predictive analytics, etc. AIDC products and the Internet of Things have revolutionized the way we collect data using sensors and RFID tags and Machine Learning and Big Data have transformed the way we make sense of such large-scale data collected on a daily basis. We are not bound by computing power anymore. In the 2010s, a computer had less computing power than a Smartphone does today. With cloud computing, we can now clean billions of Gigabits of data pretty quickly and by leveraging AI and ML, we can get valuable insights for quick and decisive decisions in all kinds of businesses.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that uses electromagnetic fields to transfer data in order to automatically identify and track RFID-tagged objects. The RFID tags contain electronically stored information.

The RFID technology market is witnessing massive demands resulting in a high CAGR of 11.9 % between the forecast period, 2023-2030. It is expected to reach 35.6 Billion USD by 2030 from 18.45 Billion USD market value in 2023. The retail sector shares the largest part of this massive billion-dollar RFID market, globally while the biggest market drivers are accurate asset tracking, security, huge opportunities in automation, etc.

An RFID system has readers and tags that communicate with each other via radio waves and a computer software interface to record and display the data to the end users. Depending upon the power source or the lack of it, there are primarily two types of RFID tags namely active RFID tags and Passive RFID tags. Now based on the nature of the tag, we have an Active RFID system and a passive RFID system as well.

We also have a semi-active or semi-passive RFID tag/system.

How does an RFID system work?

As mentioned above, an RFID system consists of three main components namely an RFID reader, a tag, and an RF subsystem or a computer software system.

When you tag an object with a UHF (Ultra High Frequency) passive RFID tag, it waits for the RF signal from the RFID reader. An active tag would send an RF signal itself here. The RFID reader in turn captures the RF signals coming from the tag, encoded with data, and decodes the signals for the end users. The computer software system records this transmission of data for future uses as well as displays the data to end users when needed.

There are mainly two types of RFID tags:

RFID Active Tags

RFID tags that come with their own power source in the form of batteries are called active RFID tags. These tags, on average, last 3-4 years and provide a read range of up to 100m. These tags are also significantly more costly than passive RFID tags and mostly used in applications where real-time location tracking is required.

Since active RFID tags have their own power source, they can periodically emit strong Radio Frequency Signals. It makes real-time identification and tracking of tagged items possible.

Active RFID tags are best suitable for supply chain operations, fleet management, tool tracking in manufacturing sectors, vehicle tracking, etc.

RFID Passive Tags

RFID tags that do not come with batteries and use the reader radio frequency signal energy to transmit their encoded RF signals are called passive RFID tags.

When an RFID reader transmits the interrogating signals, the passive RFID tag antenna catches these signals and activates (powers up) the microchip inside the tag. The passive RFID tag then sends the encoded data to the RFID reader.

Passive RFID tags, in comparison to active RFID tags, are suitable for short-range wireless identification and tracking needs. These tags are inexpensive and most suitable for item-level tagging in retail, supply chain and logistics, inventory management, warehouse management, healthcare, education, etc.

We also have semi-passive or semi-active RFID tags that come with batteries. Like active RFID tags, these tags don’t need the RFID reader signals to send the encoded data. However, unlike Active RFID tags, battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags do not transmit RF signals periodically but transmit signals only when they detect an RFID reader in the vicinity.

These tags provide a long read range, longer than passive RFID tags but less than active RFID tags. These tags are also costlier than passive RFID tags.

Radio Frequency Identification: Operating Frequency and Communication Standards

When we talk about radio frequency identification technology, knowing the operating frequency and communication protocols is a must.

Not every RFID tag functions on the same radio frequency and not every RFID reader can detect all kinds of tags.

Radiofrequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), is what defines the working of any RFID tag or reader. The higher the frequency, the more the energy in the RF signal (E= hv). Based upon the operating frequency of the RFID system, or the RFID tags, we categorize RFID tags into three main categories:

1. Low Frequency

2. High Frequency

3. Ultra High Frequency

The low-frequency RFID system works on an operating frequency of 125KHz and in the case of passive LF RFID tags, the read range is within a few centimeters (<10cm). LF passive RFID tags are suitable for applications where close range is required such as access control systems, livestock management, POS (Point of Sale) applications, etc.

High-frequency passive RFID tags operate on a frequency of 13.56MHz and can be read up to a distance of 100cm. These tags are used in access control systems, hotel room key cards, RFID payments, ticketing, etc.

Ultra High-frequency passive RFID tags are the most used tags when it comes to passive RFID. These tags operate over a frequency range of 860-960 MHz (865-867 MHz in India, 865-868MHz in Europe) and offer a read range of 12-15 meters. UHF passive RFID tags find applications in asset management, inventory management, asset tracking, retail, hospitals, tool tracking, parking management, supply chain and logistics, manufacturing, library management, etc.

Coming to standardization, most RFID readers and tags follow the ISO 18000-6C EPC Class 1 Gen 2 communication protocols and work on different power requirements across nations.

RFID Application Software

Apart from an RFID reader and an RFID tag, RFID systems need application software to run the overall system. With many RFID systems in place, there will be several different readers/writers, and the data, to and from these RFID readers, needs to be recorded and analyzed. This is when application software is required.

Although each RFID system will vary according to its requirements, the RFID software system is crucial to business operations in terms of data collection, analysis, and storage.

Why do we use RFID?

RFID technology possesses the ability to revolutionize the way companies conduct business while also significantly enhancing and protecting the well-being of customers. Being the most flexible auto-identification technology available, RFID is capable of automatically and precisely tracking and monitoring the physical world, providing information on the identity, location, and condition of an object.

Here are some reasons why RFID technology is utilized:

-- Line of sight access is not necessary to read the tags.

-- The tag has the ability to trigger security alarms if removed from its designated location.

-- Reader and tag communication is not affected by orientation.

-- Automatic scanning and data logging can be performed without human intervention.

-- Each tag can possess a unique product code such as the standardized Electronic Product Code (EPC-code), while still being able to store additional information in an internal memory bank.

-- Every item can be labeled individually.

-- Tag internal data can be comprehensive, and unique in certain respects while common in others, and can be processed in ERP systems.

-- The system offers outstanding security and product authentication, with tags being more difficult to counterfeit than simple barcodes.

-- Additionally, the data infrastructure supporting the technology enables data retrieval and product tracking from virtually anywhere, provided that the reader is close enough to the tag.

Our RFID Solutions

RFID solutions have transformed many businesses with simple automation techniques. With remote identification and tracking of individual items, RFID proves to be a cost-effective solution for many businesses. Here’s a list of some of our prominent RFID-based solutions:

1. UHF RFID Based Time and attendance Management System with SMS and Email Alerts

2. Solar PV Module Management System based on RFID technology

3. RFID Jewelry Tracking System

4. RFID vehicle tracking System

5. RFID-based Fleet Management

6. RFID library management system

7. RFID-based document and file tracking

8. RFID parking management system

9. RFID-based Anti-counterfeiting solutions

10. eMuseum: Artwork Collection Management System based on RFID

11. Fixed Asset Management, Tracking, Inventory & Auditing Software

12. RFID Based Laptop & IT Assets Tracking System

13. Event Management/Tracking System

Our RFID Services

We offer end-to-end RFID solutions to our clients in various sectors. Here’s a list of some of our RFID services:

1. RFID Consultancy Services

2. RFID Site Inspection/Survey

3. RFID Based Software Application Development

4. RFID Integration

5. RFID Application Maintenance Services

6. RFID Project Support Services

7. RFID Education and Training

To summarize, RFID is an AIDC (automatic identification and data capture) technology that is used for item-level tagging and identification, and tracking purposes. Like barcodes, RFID labels offer products unique identities. However, RFID tags are far superior in terms of performance. Unlike barcode scanners, RFID readers don’t require line-of-sight scanning and can read an RFID tag from a distance of up to 15m in the case of passive RFID tags and up to 100m in the case of active RFID tags.

RFID is used in various business operations including retail, supply chain, manufacturing, warehouse management, inventory control, healthcare, utilities, smart city projects, construction, transportation, education, etc.

Ruddersoft offers various customized RFID-based software solutions and all kinds of the above-mentioned RFID products and services to our clients in India and abroad.

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