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Fall 2007 RFID – Technical Issues
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Fall 2007 RFID – Technical Issues

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  • 1. RFID Technical Issues Operations & Decision Technologies Department Kelley School of Business Indiana University
  • 2. What is RFID?
    • RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification
    • It is a technology that permits contact-free transfer of data using a radio frequency transmission
    • The heart of RFID technology is a transponder, which is a silicon chip attached to an antenna. It is called a tag. The tag can be attached to items that are to be tracked
    • A numeric code is stored on the chip. This code is called the electronic product code (EPC)
    • The code is read when communication takes place between a reader (interrogator) and the tag
  • 3. RFID Technology is Not New!!
    • Tracking livestock (Approximately 15 years)
    • Contactless payments (Approximately 5 years)
      • ExxonMobil Speedpass
      • Tollbooth lanes
    • Event access (Ticketing)
    • Building access control
    • Has been used in manufacturing to track large components such as engines and chassis
    • Has been used for the international postal system for monitoring the quality of service
  • 4. Why Now?
    • The creation of the Electronic Product Code (EPC)
    • Technology changes
    • EPCGlobal Generation 2 standard (Gen 2)
    • The price of the tags has been coming down. However, price is still an issue
    • Mandates by various organizations (European Parliament, DOD, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.)
  • 5. The Wal-Mart Mandate
    • Wal-Mart required its top 100 suppliers to be RFID-enabled at the case and pallet level by January 2005
    • The rest of its suppliers had to be compliant by December 2006
    • Wal-Mart did not endorse specific RFID hardware or software
    • Expected suppliers to perform their own tests of RFID technologies
    • Will impact 10,000+ Suppliers
  • 6. Advantages of RFID
    • Provides non-contact, non-line-of-sight operation
    • Is difficult to counterfeit
    • Is a highly capable and proven technology for a wide range of applications
    • Provides an instantaneous read of code
  • 7. RFID Technology is Maturing
    • Technology has improved significantly
    • Standards are being adopted and agreed upon
    • Some markets are maturing
    • Other markets being identified for possible applications
    • Significant impact expected in SCM
  • 8. RFID Systems
    • Tags are attached to objects
    • Each tag has a certain amount of internal memory in which it stores information about the object
    • This information could be unique ID numbers, details about manufacture date and product composition
  • 9. RFID Systems
    • When the tags pass through a field generated by a reader, they transmit information back to the reader, identifying the object.
    • Until recently the tags and readers were used in systems with low volumes but the objective is to use them in high volume situations
  • 10. Possible Roadblocks
    • Tag reading efficiencies and prices
    • Standards - Applications are global but the basis of radio regulations are national and even regional
    • Interoperability of the technologies through the supply chain
    • Who bears the cost of the RFID system in the supply chain?
  • 11. Possible Roadblocks
    • The barrier points for tags are 2 meters for range and 3GHz for frequency. Below these points, it is possible to make a low cost tag system. Beyond these points, technologies get more expensive
    • IT Infrastructure to handle the large amounts of data
    • Change of work and labor practices
    • Privacy and ethical issues
    • Security issues
  • 12. Improvements in RFID Technology
    • From read-only tags to read-write
    • From no memory in tags to 2K, 8K and in some cases 16K bits
    • Better authentication between tag and reader
    • Anti-collision algorithms for multiple tag reads in the field
    • More sophisticated security algorithms
  • 13. An RFID System Host Computer Control Module Broadcast Interface Transponder Reader Data Transmitted Request Transmitted Data Requested Data Received Command to Retrieve Data Data sent to Host Internet / Intranet
  • 14. RFID Tags
    • Tags can be either active (powered by a battery) or passive (powered by the reader field)
    • Tags can also be semi-active or semi-passive (same type of tag). Such tags have batteries but are only activated by a reader’s electromagnetic field
    • Tags come in various forms including smart cards, tags, labels, watches, and even embedded in cell phones
  • 15. Structure of a Tag
    • Chip + Antennae + Substrate = Tag
    Chip or Integrated Circuit (IC) Antenna
  • 16. An RFID Tag
  • 17. RFID Operating Frequencies
    • Low Frequency (125-134kHz) Used in access control, livestock, race timing, pallet tracking, wireless commerce
    • High Frequency (13.56 mHz) Smart labels – Used in supply chain, wireless commerce, ticketing, product authentication
    • Ultra-High Frequency – UHF (900+mHz) Emerging technology
    • Microwave (2.45 gHz) Not widely deployed
  • 18. RFID Transponder or Tags
    • It is a micro-chip with a unique ID code (UID) and memory
    • It also has an antenna which is usually copper or aluminum
    • Active tags versus passive tags
    • Some chipless tags – very low cost, short read range tags
  • 19. Readability Issues
    • Dead Tags – Unreadable
    • Quiet Tags – Readable but only at a short distance
    • Quality of tags is an issue
    • Readability rates of higher quality tags are at about 97% to 98%. That translates to about 2 Sigma
  • 20. Electronic Product Code
    • Header: Identifies the EPC’s Version Number
    • EPC Manager: Indicates the enterprise using the EPC number
    • Object Class: Refers to the class or category of a product (similar to a Stock Keeping Unit – SKU)
    • Serial Number: Identifies a unique item being tagged
    647.37000.123456.100000000 Header 8 Bits EPC Manager 34 Bits Object Class 20 Bits Serial Number 34 Bits
  • 21. Some Passive Tags
  • 22. Some Active Tags
  • 23. Tag Packaging Formats
    • Weather-proof or environment-proof enclosures
    • Pressure sensitive labels
    • Credit card size flexible labels
    • Tokens and coins
    • Embedded tags
    • Paper tags
  • 24. Transponder/Tag Classes
    • Read Only
    • Write Once Read Only
    • Read/Write
    • Read/Write with On-Board Sensors (for recording parameters such as temperature, pressure, etc.)
    • Read/Write with Integrated Transmitters – Can communicate with other tags and devices without the presence of a reader
  • 25. Low Frequency Tags
    • Typical Maximum Read Range - <0.5 m
    • Relatively expensive even at high volumes. Low frequency requires a longer more expensive copper antenna. Least susceptible to performance degradations from metal and liquids
    • Generally passive tags
    • Applications include access control, animal tracking, POS applications including SpeedPass
    • Data rate slower than other frequencies
    • Passive tag size is larger than other frequencies
  • 26. High Frequency Tags
    • Typical Maximum Read Range – Approx 1m
    • Less expensive than low frequency tags. Best suited for applications that do not require long range reading of multiple tags
    • Generally passive tags
    • Applications include item-level tracking such as baggage handling (non-US)
    • Data rate slower than other ultra high frequencies (UHF)
    • Passive tag size is larger than UHF
  • 27. Ultra High Frequency Tags
    • Typical Maximum Read Range – Approx 3m
    • In large volumes, UHF tags have the potential to be cheaper than either LF or HF tags. Offer balance between range and performance
    • Active tags with integral battery or passive tags
    • Applications include pallet tracking and item-level tracking such as baggage handling (US)
    • Data rate faster than other LF or HF tags
    • Passive tag size is smaller than LF or HF tags
  • 28. Microwave Tags
    • Typical Maximum Read Range – Approx 1m
    • Very similar to UHF tags but with faster read rates. Most susceptible to performance degradations from metal and liquids, particularly metal
    • Active tags with integral battery or passive tags
    • Applications include SCM And toll collection
    • Data rate faster than other ultra high frequencies (UHF)
    • Passive tag size is smaller than UHF tags
  • 29. RFID Readers
    • Readers are radio frequency devices that:
      • Transmit and receive RF signals
      • Contain a control unit to execute commands
      • Incorporate an interface to transfer data
      • Receives commands from a Host computer
      • Responds to software commands from Host
  • 30. A Passive and an Active Reader
  • 31. Reader Characteristics
    • Stationary or Hand-held
    • Multi-protocol?
    • Weather-proof?
    • Read ranges vary from a few centimeters to a few meters
    • Read range is dependent upon broadcast signal strength, size of broadcast antenna, size of transponder antenna, and the environment
  • 32. Antenna Characteristics
    • Transmits and receives RF signals
    • Typically made of copper or aluminum, new technologies emerging for printed antennas
    • Stationary or Hand-held
    • Weather-proof?
    • Fixed or Turnable
  • 33. An Antenna Tunnel Verification tunnel reads Antennas
  • 34. RFID System Issues
    • Read Distance Requirements
      • Long read range
      • Short read range
    • Frequency
      • All frequencies have their pros and cons
    • ISO Standards
      • Proprietary or Standards-based
  • 35. RFID System Issues
    • Government Regulations
      • Varies from country to country
    • Multiple Tag Reading in Same Field
      • Anti-collision algorithms
    • Hardware set-up
      • Environment can affect performance
    • Transponders
  • 36. RFID Players – Hardware
    • Alien Technology
    • Intermec Technology
    • Matrics, Inc.
    • Savi Technology
    • SAMSys Technologies
    • Symbol Technologies
    • Texas Instruments
  • 37. RFID Players - Software
    • Manhattan Associates
    • SAP
    • RedPrairie
    • JDA Software
    • Manugistics
    • EXE Technologies
  • 38. RFID - Middleware
    • TIBCO Software
    • Sun Microsystems
    • webMethods
    • GlobeRanger
    • ConnecTerra
  • 39. RFID – Systems Integrators
    • IBM Global Services
    • Accenture
    • Cap Gemini Ernst and Young
    • Sapient
    • Kurt Salmon Associates
    • The ePC Group