Radio-frequency identification is a technology that tracks the physical location of items, animals, or even people. The process works by using a tag that sends a signal to a reader. The reader analyzes information to determine object details and location. RFID technology makes tracking faster and more convenient. Anyone that has purchased large items from big-box stores, such as Walmart or Best Buy, has been in contact with RFID tags.
The three core pieces of the system are the antenna, tag, and RFID reader. The antenna and the tag are combined. The combined antenna and tag are placed on the object that needs to be tracked. The RFID reader is used to receive the radio waves created by the antenna and tag. The RFID reader must be in the right range to pick up the waves sent from the antenna. Different types of RFID tags are used depending on the application.
In the example below, we outline the RFID process using the example of a torque wrench that moves between multiple locations.
- An RFID tag with antenna is attached to torque wrench #584
- The serial number, description, and owner information is stored in the RFID tag
- The torque wrench is moved to a warehouse
- At the warehouse, a RFID reader is used to scan the new shipment
- The tag on torque wrench #584 sends a signal, via the antenna, to the reader
- Information from the RFID tag shows the location and information of wrench #584
RFID adoption is soaring going into 2017. Many retailers, libraries, and even maintenance shops are utilizing RFID technology. Workers in these industries have vast amounts of inventory to track. It isn’t an effective use of time to have people search for misplaced items.
Using RFID technology can also help with safety. RFID has been very successful in healthcare. Hospitals with neonatal units use RFID tags inside bracelets to monitor newborns. The tags can notify hospital personnel if a child is carried out of the unit. The tags are also being tested for applications to monitor carbon monoxide levels to prevent SIDS.
In aviation, RFID can be used in conjunction with asset tracking software. By combining these technologies, aviation maintenance technicians can ensure that tooling isn’t left behind in an airplane. RFID technology helps technicians “check-in” tools at the end of preventative maintenance or repair. If a tool is missing, the technician is notified.
RFID technology is advancing quickly. Stay tuned to e2bcal.com/blog for more RFID news.