What is RFID technology?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that uses radio waves to identify objects without a direct line of sight. Passive RFID tags are attached to objects or people that contain a unique identifier (“ID”) that can be read by an RFID reader over a distance of typically 1 – 10 meters. The reader then sends the identifier to a computer, which can then be used to get more information about the object like a price or manufacturer name, or track the object’s last location.
RFID is a versatile technology with a wide range of applications. It is commonly used in logistics, supply chain management, and retail. RFID tags can also be used to track assets, animals, and people.
The technological details of RFID
When engineers talk about RFID they usually mean passive RFID. Here the RFID tags do not have a battery. They get their power from the radio waves emitted by the reader and its antenna. The RFID tags also consist of an antenna and a microchip. The microchip contains a unique identifier that is encoded in a binary format and usually some user-programmable memory. When an RFID tag is within range of an RFID reader, the reader sends out a radio wave signal. The tag’s antenna receives the signal and sends back its unique identifier and its data. The reader then decodes the identifier and sends it to a computer or server in the cloud.
The frequencies used in RFID systems are divided into three main bands: low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF). LF RFID tags are the oldest and most simple type of RFID tag. They usually only have a fixed ID and are used in applications where a long read range is not required, such as animal identification and access control. HF RFID tags have a similar read range to LF tags, but they can also store data. They are used in applications such as laundry systems, payment, and industrial automation. UHF RFID tags have the longest read range of the three types with up to 10 m. They are used in applications such as supply chain optimization, retail as well as tracking in the manufacturing industry.
There are also active RFID tags that have a battery and can transmit their identifier over a longer distance but this technology is becoming rare since read ranges for modern UHF transponders increased a lot and the cost per tag is much lower.
The benefits of RFID
RFID has several benefits over other identification technologies, such as barcodes. RFID tags can be read over a longer distance without visual contact, which makes them ideal for applications where objects need to be tracked without human intervention. This allows RFID to fully automate the process of data transmission. The resulting read events form the basis of the Internet of Things and are the raw data from which knowledge about the underlying processes is gained.
RFID tags are also more durable than barcodes and can withstand harsh environments which is especially important in industrial automation.
What does Metratec offer?
Metratec’s portfolio includes RFID readers, multiplexers for connecting multiple antennas to one reader, as well as antennas, software, and complete systems that integrate all the necessary components in one finished solution. On a technical level, Metratec offers products for two types of RFID technologies: HF RFID (at 13.56 MHz) and UHF RFID (at 868/920 MHz). To learn even more about the technical background of each type, click on the logo below.