RFID Asset Tracking System
RFID Asset Tracking Systems
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic data capture method that uses radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic waves to identify items that are affixed with transponders. The typical RFID asset tracking system consists of an RFID reader, an antenna, and one or more RFID asset tags (also called transponders). RFID readers transmit radio waves to the target transponders, which respond by selectively reflecting the radio waves. This selective reflection of elecromagnetic waves is called "back-scatter", and it causes an electromagnetic field disturbance, which can then be interpreted by RFID readers to capture the tags' identities and other information programmed into them.
RFID technology is useful for a variety of applications, but among the most popular is asset tracking. RFID is currently used to track assets such as retail items, livestock, pharmaceuticals, equipment, paper documents, and more. Using RFID to track assets has significant advantages, including:
- Increased productivity and efficiency resulting from knowing the exact location of assets
- Greater return-on-investment (ROI) resulting from being able to track how, when, and where assets are being used, and who is using them; cumulative tracking data can help executives make more accurate financial estimates of the company's expenditures
- Theft deterrence: RFID can help prevent theft of critical assets like corporate laptops, which may hold trade secrets and other confidential information about a company's internal processes.
- Increased return-on-investment (ROI): The cost of RFID tags was dramatically reduced in 2006, thereby enabling more businesses to justify investing in an RFID asset tracking system.
Tracking assets with radio frequency identification can be divided into two main categories: fixed and mobile.
Fixed RFID Asset Tracking
Fixed RFID asset tracking systems utilize tags that are permanently attached to capital equipment and fixed assets, such as vehicles, lifts, and pallets. Stationary readers placed at strategic locations throughout the facility capture the data on the assets' tags as the items move past the readers.
In a warehouse setting, for example, the captured data can be used to quickly locate either inventory or the tools and equipment used by employees to manage inventory. The obvious advantage is that personnel do not have to waste time looking for assets. As another example, hospitals use RFID to deter theft of medications and supplies and to locate assets quickly in life-threatening situations.
Mobile RFID Asset Tracking
Mobile RFID asset tracking involves permanently affixing readers to mobile objects, such as vehicles and fork lifts. Mounted RFID readers read the tags attached to the items that the vehicle is carrying. The locations of the readers themselves can be determined by interfacing the readers with tags embedded in the ground or mounted on walls throughout the facility.
RFID asset tracking, whether fixed or mobile, allows manufacturers to quickly and easily locate inventory and equipment, thereby increasing efficiency and productivity while avoiding undue capital and labor expenses. In addition, RFID asset tracking systems are useful in other environments as well, such as offices, where it can be used to track important documents, laptops, etc.
<< Back to RFID Information Library