RFID White Paper

1,108 views
1,004 views

Published on

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,108
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
61
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

RFID White Paper

  1. 1. RFID White Paper Coridian Technologies, Inc. 8140 Mallory Court Chanhassen, MN 55317 952.361.9980 952.361.9981 fax www.coridian.com info@coridian.com Labeling, Printing, and Data Collection Solutions
  2. 2. RFID White Paper 07/30/2004 Table of Contents: WHAT IS RFID? .......................................................................................................... 3 WHAT MAKES UP A RFID SYSTEM? ............................................................ 5 TAGS:............................................................................................................................. 5 Passive Tags: ....................................................................................................... 7 Active Tags: ........................................................................................................... 7 Semi-Active Tags:............................................................................................... 7 Read Only: ............................................................................................................. 8 Write Once Read Many (WORM): ............................................................... 8 ReadWrite ............................................................................................................. 8 RFID Tags and Packaging: ............................................................................ 9 Questions to Ask about Tags: ..................................................................... 11 ANTENNAS:................................................................................................................. 12 Wavelength:......................................................................................................... 12 Tag Antennas: .................................................................................................... 13 Reader Antennas: ............................................................................................. 14 Antennas Orientation: ..................................................................................... 15 READERS: ................................................................................................................... 17 Fixed or Stationary Readers or Interrogators: ...................................... 19 Mobile Readers or Interrogators: ............................................................... 21 SOFTWARE: ................................................................................................................ 21 CATALYST WWW.CATALYSTWMS.COM ......................................................................... 22 IBM WWW.IBM.COM ..................................................................................................... 22 OATS WWW.OATSYSTEMS.COM ................................................................................... 22 ORACLE WWW.ORACLE.COM ....................................................................................... 22 S.................................................................................................................................... 22 SHIPCOM WIRELESS WWW.SHIPCOMWIRELESS.COM................................................... 22 SYSTEM CONCEPTS WWW.SYSCONCEPTS.COM............................................. 22 A RFID SYSTEM ...................................................................................................... 23 EXAMPLE SYSTEMS: ................................................................................................ 24 THINGS TO CONSIDER:............................................................................................ 26 FREQUENCIES: ....................................................................................................... 28
  3. 3. LOW-FREQUENCY (LF) ................................................................................................. 28 HIGH-FREQUENCY (HF) ............................................................................................... 28 ULTRAHIGH FREQUENCY (UHF)................................................................................... 29 MICROWAVE .................................................................................................................. 29 FREQUENCY CHART:..................................................................................................... 29 STANDARDS: ............................................................................................................ 31 EPC STANDARDS: ................................................................................................... 32 EPC Tag Classes: ............................................................................................ 32 EPC code structure .......................................................................................... 33 ISO STANDARDS:..................................................................................................... 34 ISO Standards for Proximity Cards:.......................................................... 34 ISO Standards for RFID Air interface. ..................................................... 34 ISO Standards for Animal Identification .................................................. 35 ISO Supply Chain Standards ....................................................................... 35 CHALLENGES FOR RFID ................................................................................... 36 BENEFITS OF RFID SYSTEMS: ...................................................................... 37 ADVANTAGES OF USING RFID TECHNOLOGY .............................................................. 37 APPLICATIONS ........................................................................................................ 39 CLOSED LOOP SYSTEMS: ...................................................................................... 39 OPEN SYSTEMS: ....................................................................................................... 39 POINT OF SALE: ........................................................................................................ 39 COMMON APPLICATIONS ........................................................................................ 40 Car Dealerships...................................................................................................... 41 Rental Cars ............................................................................................................. 41 Animal Identification............................................................................................... 41 Security and Access Control ................................................................................ 41 MARKET DRIVERS................................................................................................. 42 EPCGLOBAL NETWORK .................................................................................... 43
  4. 4. What is RFID? At a simple level, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a means of automatically identifying objects. It is a technology that involves tags that emit radio signals and devices called readers that pick up the signal. Radio Frequency Identification is a form of automatic identification (AutoID) technology that uses radio waves to communicate among a system of integrated circuits, tags, readers and software to identify items. Radio waves transmitted from an antenna interact with an integrated circuit embedded on an RF tag, which sends radio waves back to a reader. The reader turns those waves into digital information, allowing the item that responded to be instantly identified. RFID is not a new technology, but it has only recently has gained new life. The concept of RFID systems originated during World War II as a means of distinguishing friendly aircraft from enemy aircraft. Large powered RFID tags, or transponders, were placed on friendly aircraft. When interrogated by a radar signal, these transponders would give the appropriate response to identify the carrying aircraft as “friendly.” This IFF (Identify: Friend or Foe) system was the first obvious use of RFID and present day aviation traffic control is still based on IFF concepts. The invention of the microchip and subsequent technological advances led to the design and use of passive RFID tags. Radio Frequency Identification technology systems can track and record the location, time of entry and exit from a designated area of persons and objects. RFID relies on radio frequency or "waves" between a card or tag and a reader in order to make identification and to carry out the tracking function. When the RFID card or tag enters, remains or leaves the magnetic field produced by the reader, the data store in the integrated chip of the card or tag is read and recorded by the reader. The reader then passes the number to a computer or local application. As RFID is a "contact-less" technology, it requires neither contact with a reader (as does magnetic stripe technology) or a direct line of sight to a reader (as does bar code technology). RFID, therefore, reduces the problems associated with those "contact" or "line-of-sight" technologies. This means RFID can operate in harsh environments and will not be affected by temperature changes. The significant advantage of all types of RFID systems is the no contact, non-line-of- sight nature of the technology. Tags can be read through a variety of substances such as snow, fog, ice, paint, crusted grime, and other visually and environmentally challenging conditions, where barcodes or other optically read technologies would be useless. RFID tags can also be read in challenging circumstances at remarkable speeds, in most cases responding in less than 100 milliseconds. The read/write capability of an active RFID system is also a significant advantage in interactive applications such as work-in-process or maintenance tracking. Though widespread RFID solutions are on the horizon, there are a number of reasons why it is just growing out of its infancy. In the supply chain, not only does it require high up-front costs including software, hardware, data storage, but also the tags are still relatively expensive when compared to barcodes. As standards bodies continue to focus
  5. 5. on RFID, more solid global standards will begin to emerge. RFID will eventually amount to a paradigm shift in global industries in which automatic data collection is a key component. Outside of the supply chain, many customers are looking to deploy automatic data collection infrastructures for the first time. For many of these deployments, RFID represents a compelling technology that can be – and has been - implemented with immediate benefits and a quick return on investment. Therefore, RFID could conceivably grow more quickly over the next few years in closed loop, outside the supply chain scenarios (healthcare, manufacturing, field data capture, maintenance logging, etc.) that are not as dependent on open, inter-operable standards for tags and readers. Rather than deploying to accomplish compliance, customers in these markets deploy to achieve business benefits. RFID represents an exciting opportunity for customers with automatic data collection needs.
  6. 6. What Makes up a RFID System? A RFID system is comprised of several components, including: • Tags: This is sometimes referred to as a transponder. • Readers: This is sometimes referred to as an interrogator. • Antennas: Linear or Circular polarized. • Software: This may also be referred as middleware. Tags: There are a variety of RFID tag types. Selecting the correct tag will be imperative to ensure a proper functioning system. Tags can be placed on wooden or plastic pallets, clothing, embedded into traditional barcode labels, animals, metal surfaces, and many other items. A tag is comprised of: • Silicon chip: Integrated circuit (IC chip) that contains the data. • Antenna: An antenna is attached to the chip in order to receive and transmit its data. • Substrate: This is the paper or plastic film or housing that the chip and antenna are mounted on.
  7. 7. Substrate The data associated with a tag is programmed into the chip. The tag is placed on merchandise and is activated and read when it is energized by the reader and antenna system. The IC contains an actual microchip where data is stored. Chips are available in many sizes and configurations. They can be extremely small to be incorporated into small form factor RFID tags. The chips' capability to carry data and have that data amended is defined by their Read/Write characteristics. An RFID tag can take on many form factors and power levels. The unique identifier is encoded onto the integrated circuit and travels with this data. The data on the RFID IC is transmitted to a reader through the antenna incorporated onto the tag. RFID tags can be as tiny as an ant's head, larger than the palm of an adult hand, or any size in between. The form factor that the RFID tag takes is dictated by factors including power, durability, and lifetime requirements. Tag characteristics are defined by the application, and can vary in power requirements, read/write capability, and frequency. RFID tags are developed using a frequency according to the needs of the system including read range and the environment in which the tag will be read.
  8. 8. There are three basics types of tags: • Passive Tags • Active Tags • Semi-Active Tags Passive Tags: “Passive Tags” are RFID tags that have no independent power source and get power from the readertransceiver directly. Passive tags are consequently much lighter than active tags, less expensive, and offer a virtually unlimited operational lifetime. The trade off is that they have shorter read ranges than active tags and require a higher-powered reader. Passive tags are the most common tags associated with merchandise tracking. Read-only tags are typically passive and are programmed with a unique set of data (usually 32 to 128 bits) that cannot be modified. Read-only tags most often operate as a license plate into a database, in the same way as linear barcodes reference a database containing modifiable product-specific information. Active Tags: Active tags are powered by an internal battery and are typically read/write, i.e., tag data can be rewritten and/or modified. An active tag’s memory size varies according to application requirements. The battery-supplied power of an active tag generally gives it a longer read range. The trade off is greater size, greater cost, and a limited operational life, depending upon operating temperatures and battery type. Semi-Active Tags: Semi-Active tags incorporate batteries, but the battery power is only used to power the IC's circuitry, not to enhance communications with the host system reader. These tags are less common, but are an emerging solution that combines the longer read ranges of active tags with the lower cost of passive tags. RFID tags can be either read write (R/W) or read only (R/O), or some combination of these. Read Write tags allow data to be updated or written to the RF Tag. These tags would be needed, for example, when a history of movement is needed. Read Only tags are used when only the static content of the tag is needed.
  9. 9. Read Only: Read Only tags contain identification such as a product or serial number that is programmed onto the chip when it is manufactured. This identifier remains constant throughout the chip's life; neither additional data nor overwriting the identifier is possible. Read Only chips are generally the least expensive but have the limitation of acting like a license plate, much like a bar code acts. Write Once Read Many (WORM): A Write Once Read Many (WORM) chip allows users to add data onto the chip beyond the unique identifier, but data can be added only once. There is no limit to how many times the data can be read. ReadWrite ReadWrite chips are open to data manipulation by the user's system without restrictions. These chips will still contain a unique identifier from the chip manufacturer, but can also carry an updateable database where data can be added to the chip. ReadWrite chips are generally more expensive than read only or WORM chips because of their versatility. Additional notes: Passive tags are the least expensive of all the current tag types. Passive tags are activated by the electromagnetic waves of a reader. These waves effectively “turn the tag on,” allowing it to transmit radio frequency waves with specific information. Passive tags will be the first to see widespread adoption because of their low cost. These tags will have a limited read range of 10-25 feet depending on environmental conditions, mounting surfaces, and method of use (ie: speed of desired read). Active tags, on the other hand, contain a battery that allows them to constantly emit radio frequency signals that can be picked up from 100 feet or more away. These are useful for larger objects because they don’t require as many readers. While having a power source provides various benefits, including reducing the impact of metals and liquids, active tags are significantly more costly than passive tags. Companies must determine whether to invest in read-write tags or read-only tags. Read-write tags are significantly more expensive, but allow users to add or write over existing information. Read-only tags are much less expensive, but are good for one time recording of information only. With a variety of tag options to choose from, the selection of the tag will be determined by the way the tags will be used and the application they are associated with. For example, if a company needs to more closely monitor its yard, attaching a higher priced active tag to a trailer or container of product would allow for instant location in a large area. However, if a company just needs to automate its picking processes within the DC, it would likely choose to invest in passive technology.
  10. 10. RFID Tags and Packaging: RFID tags can be packaged for use in different applications. Smart Label: Smart labels are traditional labels that incorporate an RFID tag, known as an inlay, into the form factor, and are then printed on and encoded by a dual-purpose printer. In the case of smart labels for tracking items, thermal printers have long been seen as superior in terms of their ability to produce a quality printed image on a variety of materials at a low operating cost. This type of tag usually operates at High Frequency (13.56Mhz) but there are also UHF offerings also. The life span is based on conditions of the environment and material use. The majority of RFID applications for smart labels will create disposable labels, which is why it's so important that the tag cost drops. Pallet and Container: These tags can be incorporated into pallets of plastic totes or containers. Primary used in the supply chain to track movement of merchandise. Operates on UHF frequencies (860-930 MHz). Tire Tags: The insert can be inserted under an adhesive label for temporary application to the tire exterior, or combined with a more aggressive adhesive applied to the insert’s back surface for permanent mounting on a tire’s inner wall. These are usually UHF tags. The RF tag is incorporated into the manufacturing process, not as an add-on process.
  11. 11. Windshield Tag: This tag is optimized for attachment to vehicle windshields and is primarily used for highway toll applications and for access control in parking areas or gated communities. The tag is produced on a flexible substrate and includes an adhesive release liner for ease of installation. Usually operates in the UHF frequencies (860-930MHz). Metal mount Tag: These tags are encapsulated using a special molding processes to optimize performance when connected to or around metal surfaces.
  12. 12. Free Space Tags: This tag is ideal for attachment to corrugated boxes, foam padding or any other material with significant air space and low RF reflectivity. The tag is built on a flexible substrate and includes a pre-applied adhesive for easy application. Questions to Ask about Tags: RFID tags come in a wide variety of size, shapes, and forms. The correct tag will be determined based on the frequency being used, distance of the read, application, the life cycle of the tag, and surfaces the tag will be mounted on. • Does the object contain metal as part of its structure? • Does the object contain water or other liquid as part of its structure? • What environmental factors will the tag be exposed to? • How will the tag be attached to the item?
  13. 13. Antennas: The antenna emits radio signals to activate the tag and read and write data to it. There is an antenna associated with each tag and each reader in a RFID system. Usually, the antenna associated with the tag is built into the tag itself. Antenna Microchip Antennas are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the communication distance required for a given system’s performance. The antenna activates the RFID tag and transfers data by emitting wireless pulses. They can be built into a doorframe to receive tag data from persons or things passing through the door, or mounted on an interstate tollbooth to monitor traffic passing by on a freeway, just to name a few uses. Wavelength: Wavelength is the distance between identical points in the adjacent cycles of a waveform signal propagated in space or along a wire, as shown in the illustration. In wireless systems, this length is usually specified in meters, centimeters, or millimeters. The speed electricity and magnetism travels about 300,000,000 meters per second. Example of antenna length for a ½ wavelength tag operating within a 915MHz system would be as the following calculation. Wavelength = 300M / frequency. 300,000,000 / 915,000,000 = 33cm wavelength ½ wavelength = 16.5 cm
  14. 14. Tag Antennas: Antennas for tags are usually embedded within the tag itself. The antenna is tuned to the operating frequency of the RFID system. Tuning is accomplished by adjusting the length of the antenna to the frequency being used. The length of the common tag antenna is one-half the wavelength (half wavelength) of the frequency being used. There can be two types of antenna arrangements for tags. • Single Dipole • Dual Dipole Single Dipole Antenna: A single dipole antenna in a tag has the antenna array primary in one direction. This is the easiest and cheapest configuration to produce but lends itself to more of a directional or line of sight application. Dual Dipole Antenna: A dual dipole antenna has two antenna arrays, which allows more freedom of tag orientation.
  15. 15. Reader Antennas: The antenna associated with a reader can be integrated into the reader or be external to the reader. External antennas are connected to the reader by using coaxial cable. There are two types of antenna configurations used with readers for RFID systems. • Linear • Circular Linear Antenna: A linear antenna generates a narrower beam and therefore more focused. It allows for a deeper penetration, such as when reading tags that may be in the middle of a pallet of merchandise. The tags would need to be properly oriented with the plane of the reader’s beam to achieve successful read rates. These can be either vertical or horizontal polarized. • Vertical polarized • Horizontal polarized Linear antenna with horizontal polarized pattern The example above is for a horizontal generated pattern. The pattern could also be vertical. Circular Antenna: Unlike the linear antenna, the circular, or omni-directional, antenna propagates its signal in a more circular pattern. This eliminates any orientation of the tags as with the linear polarized antennas. Circular polarized pattern
  16. 16. Antennas Orientation: The electromagnetic field pattern where the transponder is read is highly affected by such things as the size and shape of the readout antenna, the orientation of the transponder as it passes through the field, and other electronics in the environment. There is an art to designing systems to suit the needs of an application. Reader Antenna Single Dipole Linear Tag Antenna In the above example, the reader antenna is using a vertical oriented linear pattern antenna, and a single dipole tag antenna that is vertically oriented. Since the orientations are the same, good reads can be expected. Reader Antenna Single Dipole Linear Tag Antenna In the above example, the reader antenna is using a vertically oriented linear pattern antenna, but the single dipole tag antenna is horizontally oriented. Since the orientations are different, reads may be difficult.
  17. 17. Reader Antenna Dual Dipole Tag Linear Antenna In the above example, the reader antenna is using a vertical oriented linear pattern antenna, and the tag is using a dual dipole tag antenna. The tag’s dual antenna arrangement provides satisfactory reads whether the linear polarized reader’s antenna is vertically or horizontally oriented. Circular polarized pattern In the above example, the reader antenna is using a circular polarized antenna. Since this type of antenna produces a circular pattern, it will read vertical or horizontal oriented tag labels equally.
  18. 18. Readers: An RFID reader, sometimes referred to as an interrogator, is made up of a RFID reader and may use an external antenna or have the antenna integrated into the reader. The reader emits radio waves at lengths depending upon its power output and the radio frequency used. When a RFID tag passes through the electromagnetic zone, it detects the reader’s activation signal. The reader decodes the data encoded in the tag’s integrated circuit (silicon chip) and the data is passed to the host computer for processing. There are times when a reader could read a large amount of data. For example, 100 tags may enter the energized field of the reader, and all hundred tags will begin to transmit data. Not all the tags will be read at one time, but the tags will continue to transmit data as long as they are in the energized field. Some readers are intelligent and can determine which tags have been previously read. If multiple tags are present in the field, more efficient RFID implementations have anti-collision algorithms, which determine the order of response so that each tag is read once and only once. In some systems, the reader could inform a tag not to transmit again for a period of time. In either case, an intelligent reader provides some filtering/buffering of the data and sends read tags to the host computer only once. A reader is the interface between the tag’s data and the host computer. The reader appears as the barcode scanner that reads the barcode symbol and transmits that data to the host computer. The RF transceiver is the source of the RF energy used to activate and power the passive RFID tags. The RF transceiver may be enclosed in the same cabinet as the reader or it may be a separate piece of equipment. When provided as a separate piece of equipment, the transceiver is commonly referred to as a RF module. The RF transceiver controls and modulates the radio frequencies that the antenna
  19. 19. transmits and receives. The transceiver filters and amplifies the backscatter signal from a passive RFID tag. Reader/Writer Options Because direct line of sight between the reader and tags is not necessary, there are many more placement options for RFID readers than were possible with bar code labels. Readers can be either placed in a fixed-position or be portable, just like bar code scanners. Fixed-position readers can be mounted to read items traveling through dock doors, conveyor belts, loading bays, gates, doorways and other areas. Readers may also be attached to lift trucks and other material handling equipment to automatically identify pallets and other items that are being moved. Interrogator capabilities have also been engineered to now be able to fit into smaller mobile devices. There are three basic choices for reader technology, based on the job or type of work to be performed. • Stationary • Mobile • PC Cards Readers can be hand-held or stationary depending on the application. For example, a stationary reader could be set up at the receiving doors of a warehouse, fixed into a building or a road surface, and attached to antennas that are wired back to a multiplexer. Hand-held readers could supplement fixed readers in a warehouse type scenario or be the primary data collection tool, such as in field data capture for utilities or for equipment maintenance data collection.
  20. 20. Fixed or Stationary Readers or Interrogators: The RFID reader directs the RF transceiver to transmit RF signals, receives the encoded signal from the tag through the RF transceiver, decodes the tag’s identification, and transmits the identification with any other data from the tag to the host computer. The reader may also provide other functions. Some readers will be able to accept data from other input devices, activate alarms, interface with message boards, controlling gate and lights. They can interface with sensors and other I/O devices: • Presence detectors o Alarms o Lights o Message boards o Printers • Typically used in the following environments o Dock doors o Conveyors o Shrink-wrap stations • Can use multiple antennas • Can connect to existing wired or wireless networks. o Usual connectivity options are RS485 and Ethernet. Customer Wrong Pallet ODBC Compliant D t b Message Presence Program Logic Controllers Printer Alarm Lights
  21. 21. Reader at Dock Doors The image below shows one example of a dock door RFID system solution. This solution has one interrogator, three antennas and mesh shielding to block any interference and to ensure that only the tags that pass through the dock doors are read. Presence detectors are also used to turn readers on only when presence of a pallet is sensed. The portal status light is used as a visual status that a read has been accomplished. RF Shielding Portal Status - Mesh Screen Lights Interrogator Presence With Antennae Detectors
  22. 22. Mobile Readers or Interrogators: The most widely used types of readers are the stationary ones discussed earlier, but these are not the only options available when reading RFID tags. When applications require more flexibility than stationary readers provide, mobility may be the answer. You can use mobile computers with either RFID PC cards or portable mobile terminals with peripheral ports and other expansion options that can be used to add RFID capability without sacrificing other functions. Portable readers can also be connected to fixed or mobile computers like a forklift mounted PC, a handheld computer, a desktop computer or a laptop. These portable interrogators can be connected either wirelessly or tethered with a wire cable. Mobile RFID interrogators allow users to read and write to tags that may be in remote locations or where it is not feasible or prudent to install fixed-position readers. The RFID interrogators can also include or be used with bar code scanners to address applications or environments where both technologies are needed. Software: In a RFID system, there may be a need for some type of software application that resides between the reader and the host system. This software could reside on a controller or server on the front end to the host computer, and is often referred to as middleware or edgeware. For example, if a reader receives 500 reads from a pallet of merchandise, but only 20 are unique, this application can send the needed information to the host system. The host then knows that 20 cases are received into inventory. As stated earlier, some readers also have this ability to filter only unique information before sending it to the host computer. As these items pass through other areas of the warehouse where readers are strategically placed, this information is continuously captured, allowing for a variety of applications. RFID middleware is in the thick of the RFID evolution. Unlike traditional middleware, RFID middleware works on the edge of the network, moving information to the point of transaction, which is why it is sometimes referred to as edgeware. The middleware manages the readers and the data read by the readers. It extracts data from the readers, performs filtering, aggregation, and counting of tag data, then sends the data to the enterprise WMS (warehouse management systems), ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, or MES (manufacturing execution system). Often edgeware and middleware are used interchangeably, and the edgeware portion is often embedded into the middleware offering.
  23. 23. Edgeware: Edgeware works at the edge of the network, and at its most basic level, extracts and filters data from RFID readers. Edgeware filters redundant data and only passes information along that is requested or constitutes a change of the situation. Edgeware also will interface with peripheral devices such as status light indicators, message boards, audio alerts, and others that are used to signal when a good read or a status change has occurred. Sometimes edgeware is included within the middleware offering. Some RFID readers offer some level of data filtering built into the reader itself. Middleware: Middleware is a software platform that enables data exchange from a RFID reader or network of readers and business information systems, such as warehouse management systems (WMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, databases, etc. Often the edgeware, or data filtering, is also included in middleware. The following are a sampling of companies with RFID middleware or edgeware offerings: Catalyst www.catalystwms.com ConnecTerra www.connecterra.com Franwell www.franwell.com Genuone www.genuone.com GlobeRanger www.globeranger.com IBM www.ibm.com ID Velocity www.idvelocity.com Oats www.oatsystems.com Oracle www.oracle.com Manhattan and Associates http://www.manh.com/ Red Prairie www.redprairie.com Savi www.savi.com Shipcom Wireless www.shipcomwireless.com System Concepts www.sysconcepts.com Slap Edgeware Middleware Performance Location Mobile RAD EPC & Monitoring Systems Systems or Network Ship SDK Catalyst X X (iRFID) ConnecaaTerra X X X X Franwell X (Genesis) Genuone X X X (TraceGuard) Globe Ranger X X X (iMotion)
  24. 24. IBM X X ID Velocity X X X (ADC) Oats X X X X (Foundation Suite) Oracle X X Manhattan & X X X X Associates (RFID in a Box) Red Prairie X X X Savi X X X (SmartChain) Shipcom X X X (Catamaran EPC Compliance) System X X X X X Concepts (TraxWare) Slap and Ship: Provides software offerings that will allow a solution provider to comply with Wal-Mart and other’s compliance mandates. Performance Monitoring: This is software that interfaces with the reader network and provides basic reader network performance analysis. Location System: Realtime Location Systems. Mobile Systems: Software for RFID readied mobile computing devices. RAD or SDK: Rapid Application Development software for mobile devices or stationary enterprise systems. A RFID System Regardless of which type of tags are chosen, the operation of RFID transmission remains basically the same. Once in the area of transmitted signals from the antenna of the reader, both passive and active RFID tags can transmit hundreds of radio frequency signals every second. Radio frequency identification technology is an automatic way to track merchandise movement without human intervention or error. Radio waves are used to transfer data between the RFID tag (transponder) and the read/write device (interrogator), which are tuned to the same frequency. A RFID system comprises a reader (or interrogator), its associated antenna and the transponders (Tags/ RFID Cards) that carry the data.
  25. 25. The interrogator sends out a signal, which is received by all tags tuned to that frequency that are present in the RF field. Tags receive the signal with their antennas, and selected tags respond by transmitting their stored data. The tag can hold many types of data about the item, such as its serial number, configuration instructions, what time the item traveled through a certain zone, even temperature and other data provided by sensors. The reader receives the tag signal with its antenna, decodes it and transfers the data to the host computer system for processing and management. RFID tags can be attached to virtually anything, from a semi tractor, to a pallet, to a case, to an item on a store shelf. If multiple tags are present in the field, more efficient RFID implementations have anti- collision algorithms, which determine the order of response so that each tag is read once and only once. As RFID is a "contact-less" technology, it requires neither contact with a reader (as does magnetic stripe technology) or a direct line of sight to a reader (as does bar code technology). RFID, therefore, reduces the problems associated with those "contact" or "line-of-sight" technologies. This means RFID can operate in harsh environments and will not be affected by temperature changes. Most RFID tags don't have batteries. Instead, they are powered by the radio signal that alerts them and requests an answer. Most of these "broadcasts" are read between a few inches and several feet away, depending on the size of the antenna and the power driving the RFID tags. Batteries power some tags, but due to the increased size and cost, they are not as common as the passive, non-battery-powered models. RFID wirelessly exchanges information between a tagged object and a reader/writer. A RFID system is comprised of the following components: • One or more tags (also called transponders), which includes a semiconductor chip and antenna. • One or more read/write devices (also called interrogators, or simply, readers). • Two or more antennas, one on the tag and one on each read/write device. • Application software and a host computer system. Example Systems:
  26. 26. 1. Host Computer and Server Software 2. Controller 3. RF Reader 4. Antenna 5. RFID Tag Controller – Controls communications between the host computer and the RF readers. Readers - A RF reader sends radio transmissions to RF tags that are affixed to objects to be tracked and/or identified. The RF tag receives radio transmissions from a RF tag reader and returns radio transmission that include identification data for the object to which the tag is affixed. Antenna - A device used to collect or transmit radio waves. RF Tags - RF tags are affixed to objects for tracking and/or identification purposes. A RF tag receives radio transmissions from a RF tag reader and returns radio transmissions that include identification data for the object to which that tag is affixed. The reader then collects the returned nformation. A RFID system can range from simple systems made of a single reader and antenna that just reads tags moving through a single portal, to more complex systems including multiple read locations and different read rates
  27. 27. that are used in all locations where products may reside or be moving through a location. A RFID system may be used in the following locations or may be made up of the following formats: • Stationary locations • Forklifts • RFID enabled mobile computing devices • Conveyor systems • Entry and Exit doorways • Shrink-wrap areas • Overhead scanning stations Things to Consider: • Do you need a solution for fixed, mobile, or both applications?
  28. 28. • What read range will be required? o Will tags be at fixed ranges? o Will tags be read at random distances? • How many tags are likely be read simultaneously? • What is the speed of the tags moving through the RF energy field? • How close are the tags to each other? • Will the orientation of the tags be unified? • Will data from the tags activate external events? o Activate lights o Activate an alarm o Will motion detectors be used to turn on the reader? • How many locations will reads need to be made? • What types of materials will tags be mounted to? o Pallets o Cartons o Products associated with liquids o Products associated with metal o Wood or Plastic A RFID system is very much a solution sale. Any solution provider will not only need to know the technology, but the business challenge that the RFID system is targeted to address. Understanding how a customer currently moves merchandise, or business practices, will prepare you to better design a system that address their current needs as well as provide an expansion path for the future. Taking a systematic approach to the design of a RFID system is a must for a successful implementation. Knowing where tags need to be read as well as when they should be read will allow the appropriate RFID stations or portals to be determined. It will also be imperative to perform pilots. There are many things learned during the pilot, using real- life conditions, which are nearly impossible to determine otherwise. For example, are there enough readers/antennas or combinations at a reader station or portal to address the speed at which RFID enabled merchandise will be presented to them? Also, are those readers and antennas placed properly to achieve maximum performance? Proper placement of the tags on the merchandise will also be verified during the pilot stages. Pilots are also an excellent way to show the potential ROI benefits that implementing any RFID system can provide. It would be advisable to start off slowly and tackle small pilots or implementation at first. RFID is an involved solution that offers unique challenges that are unlike most implemented solutions. RFID can provide a wealth of information about a customer’s operation. Remember that all the collected data is of no use unless it is properly presented to your enterprise computer systems for processing. Partnering with software or middleware providers, as well as other solution providers or implementation companies, would be advised to ensure success during your learning curve. Trying to implement a successful RFID pilot without assistance early on may be a recipe for failure, or for a whole lot of headaches.
  29. 29. Frequencies: Frequency refers to the size of the radio waves used to communicate between the RFID system components. It is generally safe to assume that a higher frequency equates to a faster data transfer rate and longer read ranges, but also more sensitivity to environmental factors such as liquid and metal that can interfere with radio waves. RFID systems currently operate in the Low Frequency (LF), High Frequency (HF) and Ultrahigh Frequency (UHF) bands. Each frequency has advantages and disadvantages relative to its capabilities. Generally, a lower frequency means a lower read range and slower data read rate, but increased capabilities for reading near or on metal or liquid surfaces. No single frequency is ideal for all applications, even within a single industry. Just as separate bar code symbologies are used at different levels of consumer goods packaging, from U.P.C./EAN symbols at the item level to Code 128 and two-dimensional symbologies on cases and pallets, RFID tags of different frequencies and functionality will be used together within overall supply chain operations. Low-Frequency (LF) Low-frequency RFID systems are typically 125 KHz, though there are systems operating at 134 KHz as well. This frequency band provides a shorter read range (< 0.5m or 1.5 ft) and slower read speed than the higher frequencies. LF RFID systems have the strongest ability to read tags on objects with high water or metal content compared to any of the higher frequencies. LF systems tend to be less sensitive to interference than higher frequency options. Typical low-frequency RFID applications are access control, animal tracking, vehicle immobilizers, healthcare applications, product authentication and various point-of-sale applications (such as Mobil/Exxon SpeedPass). The LF spectrum is not considered a truly global application because of slight differences in frequency and power levels throughout the world. High-Frequency (HF) High-frequency RFID systems operate at 13.56 MHz, and feature a greater read- range and higher-read speed than LF systems. Also, the price of the tags is among the lowest of all RFID tags. Typical read range is less than 1 meter (3 feet), and the ability to read tags on objects with high water or metal content is not as good as LF systems but stronger than UHF systems.
  30. 30. Applications include smart cards and smart shelves for item level tracking, and are also currently used to track library books, healthcare patients, product authentication and airline baggage. Another common application is maintenance data logging for sensitive equipment that needs regular checking, such as fire suppression systems. There are several standards concerning HF systems, including the ISO 15693 standard used for tracking items. Ultrahigh Frequency (UHF) Ultrahigh frequency RFID utilizes the 860 to 930MHz band – typically 868 MHz in Europe and 915 MHz in North America. UHF tags typically cost about the same as HF tags. Read range is up to 3m (9.5 ft) and the data transfer rate is faster than HF systems, though still lower than microwave based RFID systems. One drawback to UHF systems is a limited ability to read tags on objects with or surrounded by high water or metal content. This is typically the frequency recommended for distribution and logistics applications and is the basis for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard driven through the Auto-ID Center. Of course, the EPC standard is the focus of Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense in the United States. The primary rationale for utilizing this frequency in the supply chain is the greater read range it offers over the other frequency ranges. However, UHF is also widely used for electronic toll collection systems on highways, manufacturing applications and parking lot access based on the greater range provided by the frequency. The North American market operates at or near 915 MHz, much of Western Europe is at the low end of the spectrum, and several Asian companies recently opened the higher end of the spectrum to RFID usage. Microwave The final frequency option is the microwave band, either 2.45GHz or 5.8GHz. Though microwave based RFID systems offer the highest data read rates, they are the most expensive systems and have a limited read range of up to 1m (3 ft). Additionally, microwave based systems are not able to penetrate objects with high water or metal content, which makes them unsuitable for many applications. At this time, microwave is constrained to specialized applications such as tracking airline baggage or electronic toll collection. Though it could be used for some supply chain applications with high data content, the inability to penetrate water or metal combined with the higher cost will limit its deployments in this realm. Frequency Chart: Frequency Description Operating Applications Benefits Drawbacks
  31. 31. Band Range 125KHz to Low < .5M or • Access Works well Short read 134 KHz Frequency 1.5ft. Control around range and • Animal water and slower read Tracking metal rates • Vehicle products. immobilizers • Product Authenticatio n • POS applications 13.56 MHz High < 1M or • Smart Cards Low cost of Higher read Frequency 3ft. • Smart shelve tags rate than LF tags for item level tracking • Library Books • Airline Baggage • Maintenance data logging 860 MHz Ultrahigh 3m or 9ft. • Pallet tracking EPC Does not to 930MHz Frequency • Carton standard work well (UHF) Tracking built around around • Electronic toll this items of collection frequency high water • Parking lot or metal access content 2.4GHz Microwave 1m or3 ft. • Airline Most Fastest read Baggage expensive rates • Electronic toll collection Note: Read range may vary due to environment conditions, the surfaces that tags are affixed to, and interference from outside sources. The above ranges are given to provide a guideline.
  32. 32. Standards: There are quite a few standards that an RFID system can utilize. The problem is that there is no single universally accepted standard. Competing standards have been one of the more difficult issues for RFID, which has led to most RFID applications being closed systems. Standards and specifications may be set at the international, national, industry or trade association level, and individual organizations may term their own specifications as “standard.” Many industry standards and specifications set by individual organizations are based on international standards to make implementation and support easier and to provide a wider choice of available products. The ISO (International Standards Organization) and the Universal Code Council have both been leading figures in this debate. The ISO has their 18000 standard and the EPC Global center has come up with the EPC standard. One might say Wal-Mart has brought clarity by deciding to go with an Electronic Product Code standard called Class One, Generation Two, or C1, G2. This standard was developed for carton and pallet tracking within the supply chain. Much of the past year’s excitement in RFID has been focused around the convergence of different standards. The emphasis now is on the merging of the ISO standards with the EPC. Class 1-generation 1 is the current version of EPC. It is not backward compatible with Class 0. Generation 2 was hoped to be backward compatible with Class 0, but for it to merge with the ISO 18000 standard, this will be difficult, if not impossible. As of this moment, it is still undecided. As a side note, Wal-Mart has said it will support both class 0 and 1, but wants to settle on Class 1 Generation 2 when it is finalized. This is putting a lot of pressure on the ISO and EPC to come to some kind of an agreement. Standards can be applied to include the format and content of the codes placed on the tags, the protocols and frequencies that will be used by the tags and readers to transmit the data, the security and tamper-resistance of tags on packaging and freight containers, and applications-use standards. The two largest drivers for RFID today are Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense (DOD). They are both looking to accomplish the same thing but have a slightly different long-term outlook. Wal-Mart has decided to use the EPC standard, while the DOD wants to use the EPC, but use the ISO standard for air interface.
  33. 33. EPC Standards: What is EPC? The Auto-ID Center has proposed a new Electronic Product Code as the next standard for identifying products. The goal is not to replace existing bar code standards, but rather to create a migration path for companies to move from established standards for bar codes to the new EPC. To encourage this evolution, we have adopted the basic structures of the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), an umbrella group under which all existing bar codes fall. There's no guarantee that the world will adopt the EPC, but our proposal already has the support of the Uniform Code Council and EAN International, the two main bodies that oversee international bar code standards. We're also working with other national and international trade groups and standard bodies. The Auto-ID Center at MIT has been driving towards development of a standard specification item level tagging in the consumer goods industry, called the Electronic Product Code (EPC). This has led to a new group, called EPCglobal, a joint venture between the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and EAN International, which maintains the U.P.C./EAN bar code system, among others. As stated in the name, a primary goal of EPCglobal is to make the final EPC standard an official global standard. The current thrust of EPCglobal is known as UHF Generation 2 (UHF Gen 2), a Write Once Read Many tag with more memory (96 bits vs 64 bits) than preceding Class 0 and Class 1 tags. UHF Gen 2 will also provide a bridge to the eventual Class 2 High Memory full Read Write tag. Prior to UHF Gen 2, Class 0 and Class 1 were being utilized for EPC, but they were not interoperable. Consequently, a retailer utilizing an EPC solution – such as Wal-Mart – would need different RFID readers to read different tags, or force all of their suppliers into one technology. UHF Gen 2 will merge the Class 0 and Class 1 standards for a global, interoperable EPC standard. EPC Tag Classes: There are currently several classes of tags that fall under the EPCglobal umbrella. The difference between Class 0 and 1 is in the data structure and operation. Class 0 tags are read only. Class 1 tags are one-time writeable. The EPC standards call for 5 classes of tags overtime. The following table outlines the roadmap for the EPC tag class type: EPC Class Type Features Tag Type Class 0 Read Only Passive (64 bit only) Class 1 Write Once, Read Many (WORM) Passive (96 bit min.) Class 2 (Gen2) Read Write Passive (96 bit min.) Class 3 Read Write with battery power to Semi-Active enhance range
  34. 34. Class 4 Read Write active transmitter Active The chip manufacturer can only program the Class 0 tag; the Class 1 Version 1 tag can be programmed on the factory floor. While functionally equivalent under the EPCglobal classification system, Class 0 and Class 1 use different hardware technologies to implement the Identity tag functionality. Class 0 tags are programmed when they are manufactured (referred to as “Read-Only” or “R/O”), assuring uniqueness of the tag ID. Class 1 tags can be programmed once, referred to as “Write Once, Read Many” or “WORM”, by the user, providing operational flexibility. Class 0 and Class 1 tags also use different protocols, or “air interfaces” to communicate. So, while both Identity tag implementations perform the required functions, they cannot communicate with each other. Tags of both classes can co-exist in an environment, but require readers that “speak their language” to be identified. EPC code structure The EPC, is a number made up of a header and three sets of data. The header identifies the EPC's version number, allowing for different lengths or types of EPC later on. • The second part of the number identifies the EPC Manager, most likely the manufacturer of the product. • The third, called object class, refers to the exact type of product, most often the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). • The fourth is the serial number, which is unique to the item. This makes it possible, for example, to quickly find products that might be nearing their expiration date. Example of EPC 01.115A1D7.28A1E6.421CBA30A
  35. 35. The 96 bits contained on the tag are known as the electronic product code (EPC), a unique naming scheme for objects containing the following parts: ISO Standards: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is based in Geneva, and its standards carry the weight of law in some countries. All ISO standards are required to be available for use around the world, so users of ISO RFID standards will not have to worry if their systems comply with the different regulations on frequencies and power output for each country where they do business. The ISO is very active in developing RFID standards for supply chain operations and is nearing completion on multiple standards to identify items and different types of logistics containers. ISO Standards for Proximity Cards: ISO 14443 for “proximity” cards and ISO 15693 for “vicinity” cards, both recommend 13.56 MHz as its carrier frequency. These standards feature a thinner card and higher memory space availability, and allow numerous cards in the field to be read almost simultaneously using anti-collision, bit masking and time slot protocols. • ISO 14443 proximity cards offer a maximum range of only a few inches. It is primarily utilized for financial transactions such as automatic fare collection, bankcard activity and high security applications. These applications prefer a very limited range for security. • ISO 15693 vicinity cards, or Smart Tags, offer a maximum usable range of out to 28 inches from a single antenna or as much as 4 feet using multiple antenna elements and a high performance reader system. ISO Standards for RFID Air interface. The ISO 18000 series is a set of proposed RFID specifications for item management that could be ratified as standards during 2004. The series includes different specifications that cover all popular frequencies, including 135KHz, 13.56 MHz, 860-930 MHz and 2.45 GHz. • 18000 – 1 Part 1 – Generic Parameters for Air Interface Communication for Globally Accepted Frequencies • 18000 - Part 2: Parameters for Air Interface Communications below 135 KHz
  36. 36. o ISO standard for Low Frequency • 18000 - Part 3: Parameters for Air Interface Communications at 13.56 MHz o ISO standard for High Frequency o Read Write capability • 18000 - Part 4: Parameters for Air Interface Communications at 2.45 GHz o ISO standard for Microwave Frequency o Read Write capability • 18000 - Part 5: Parameters for Air Interface Communications at 5.8 GHz • 18000 - Part 6: Parameters for Air Interface Communications at 860 – 930 MHz o ISO standard for UHF Frequency o Read Write capability o Targeted for same markets as EPC standards. • 18000 – Part7: Parameters for Air Interface Communications at 433.92 MHz o Manifest tag for Department of Defense (DOD) Note: In the UHF arena, the EPC standard for air interface is not compatible with the ISO 18000 UHF (Part 6) standard. The ISO 18000 (Part 6) standard only deals with air interface protocols, whereas the EPC standard also includes data structure. The desire is for these two protocols not to be mutually exclusive. ISO Standards for Animal Identification • ISO 11748 / 11785: Standard for Animal Identification ISO Supply Chain Standards These are used to identify different types of logistics containers and packaging, in addition to individual items. • ISO 17358 - Application Requirements, including • Hierarchical Data Mapping • ISO 17363 - Freight Containers • ISO 17364 - Returnable Transport Items • ISO 17365 - Transport Units • ISO 17366 - Product Packaging • ISO 17367 - Product Tagging (DoD) • ISO 10374.2 - RFID Freight Container Identification
  37. 37. Challenges for RFID Every new technology has its challenges and RFID is no exception. In order to enjoy the benefits that this emerging technology offers, there are some obstacles that need to be overcome within a company’s organization and across the market as a whole. Individual companies face justifying the initial investment in RFID tags and readers as well as the business challenge of applying the tags to goods, although these challenges are beginning to diminish. One of the largest challenges facing the RFID industry has been the cost of the equipment, especially the tags. Applying tags to thousands of items has been an expensive task. Though tags are still higher priced than the industry would like, the prices will go down as the technology and usage grows. The price for tags vary depending on type, but a good rule of thumb would be 20 to 40 cents for a passive tag. The days of nickel tags may still be years away. The adoption of standards, or lack of standards, has also been a topic of contention. As stated earlier, there is an emerging standard (EPC) that addresses the movement of products through the supply chain. This standard is new and is just now being implemented. There are also other standards that are associated with different industries. As RFID adoption continues to grow, hardware costs are continuing to decline and tag application solutions are already emerging from leading solutions providers to combat the application dilemma. But implementing the tags and installing the readers are only the first steps towards realizing the benefits of RFID. Having the supporting technology and infrastructure in place to aid such an initiative is vital. Without the ability to utilize and analyze the data generated, the full benefits of RFID cannot be realized. This is where the middleware or edgeware comes into place. A technical challenge facing RFID adoption is the inability of RF waves to be read through certain materials. For example, some liquids absorb radio frequency waves, while other liquids are permeable. Certain metals, such as steel, can also cause complications and inaccurate readings because of their reflective nature. But understanding these issues can lead to creative solutions. Placing tags on plastic caps, instead of adjacent to the liquid, may resolve the problem.
  38. 38. Benefits of RFID Systems: The significant advantage of the system is that there is no contact between the tag and the reader and the system will operate with no line of sight. Tags can be read through a variety of substances and surfaces such as cardboard, plastic, paint, snow, ice, fog, even grease and grime, and other visually and environmentally challenging conditions, where barcodes or other optically read technologies would be useless. RFID tags can also be read in challenging circumstances at remarkable speeds, in most cases responding in less than 100 milliseconds. Bar codes have been the primary means of identifying products for the past 25 years. But bar codes have one big shortcoming: they are line-of-sight technology. That is, a scanner has to "see" the bar code to read it, which means people usually have to orient the bar code towards a scanner for it to be read. Radio frequency identification, by contrast, doesn't require line of sight. RFID tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader. Bar codes have other shortcomings as well. If a label is ripped, soiled or falls off, there is no way to scan the item. And standard bar codes identify only the manufacturer and product, not the unique item. The bar code on one milk carton is the same as every other, making it impossible to identify which one might pass its expiration date first. Advantages of using RFID Technology • Has a long lifetime • Minimum maintenance • Provides fast and reliable data recording • Can work in harsh environments (heat, cold, rain) • Tags are difficult to duplicate, so it is secure • Does not require Line-of-Sight • Contact-less technology
  39. 39. RFID Feature Description Benefits Does not require RFID uses radio waves to exchange Efficiency – data Line-of-Sight data, which eliminates the need for acquisition performed with line-of-sight between the reader and reduced labor requirements. the tag. Therefore, unattended Flexibility – fewer reading stations can be set up to constraints to tag placement identify objects – for example, on a Robustness – tags can be conveyor belt or within a transport embedded directly into container. RFID tags can be read pallets or cases protecting through cardboard, plastic or paint them from harsh allowing tags to be embedded into environments and/or pallets or cases, giving much greater tampering. flexibility in their placement. Multiple RFID allows multiple tags to be read Efficiency – increased data Simultaneous simultaneously while still uniquely collection speed and Reads identifying the various objects being provides simultaneous data tracked. RFID can be advantageous input as opposed to in high-speed reading, sorting and singular. material handling applications. Harsh Tags can be read through a variety of Productivity – harsh Environments substances and surfaces such as conditions do not adversely cardboard, plastic, paint, snow, ice, affect data collection fog, even grease and grime, and efficiency. other visually and environmentally challenging conditions Read/Write RFID tags can be read-only or Data Accuracy & readwrite. Read only tags deals withInventory Control – ability static information that remains to identify down to an constant of the life of the object level. Particularly merchandise it is affixed to. important in sensitive Read/Write tags have the capability industries like of being updated to track dynamic pharmaceuticals. information concerning the Data Management – tag merchandise it is connected to. write capability enables real-time updating of items through the supply chain. Lifespan RFID tags can be reusable and can Cost Savings – in certain be packaged to be extremely durable. applications, a RFID tag This helps amortize initial system embedded in a pallet, for costs and provides strong total cost example, can present a cost of ownership (TCO) advantages savings over barcodes that compared with identification need to be continually methods that must continually be replaced. replaced such as barcoding.
  40. 40. Applications Applications are constantly being developed to streamline data capture applications. Whether in the supply chain or in mobile computing, RFID applications typically fall into one of the categories below: Closed Loop Systems: Closed loop systems are systems that are traditionally considered standalone. Closed loop systems are used in the following: • Assembly operations • Manufacturing processes • Work in Progress • Animal tracking • Healthcare (Inventory and equipment control) For example, an automotive manufacturer may use RFID technology in their manufacturing plants to track car frames as they move through the paint stations. The information is used for internal purposes only to track inventory and quality control. Open Systems: When information concerning the movement of products that incorporate RFID tags is shared with others, this is considered an open system. A prime example of this would be sharing movement information of products as they travel through the supply chain. Pallet tags being loaded on a truck from a manufacturer would be read and that information could be shared with the appropriate downstream warehouse or distribution center. Likewise, when the warehouse or distribution center unloads the trucks, the same pallet tags are read and that information can be shared with the upstream manufacturer. Open systems are rarely used now because of the lack of database and protocol standards that define how this information will be shared. However, their potential is tremendous, as they would enable companies to track a single pallet, case or item throughout the supply chain, instead of relying upon input from each touch point. The EPC initiative within the supply chain is a good example of an open system. Point of Sale: These systems are used as fast payment systems such as toll road applications, gasoline payment, or parking garage applications. Mobil/Exxon Speedpass is a POS application example that allows customers to pay for their gas (and purchases at some grocery stores) by passing a RFID enabled ID card over an RFID reader at the gas pump. The system automatically charges the customer’s credit or debit card with the expense. Electronic toll collection systems and parking garage access are other examples of point-of-sale applications.
  41. 41. Common Applications The following are only a sampling of the applications using RFID. The applications receiving the most press these days are those associated with pallet and carton tracking in the supply chain. The following application examples should indicate that there are seemingly unlimited opportunities to implement RFID technology in a variety of markets and for numerous uses. Supply Chain Management Large corporations and their desire to further remove costs and inefficiencies in supply chain operations are driving much of the recent interest in RFID and smart label technology. The idea of scanning pallets as they arrive in distribution centers or back store docks and instantly updating the system with all of the contents of the pallet is appealing to many companies that are currently paying a small army of people to accomplish this task as a full time job. Reallocating those personnel resources could potentially provide a substantial increase in productivity and efficiency for these operations. Baggage Handling Most airlines currently use bar coding systems in their baggage handling operations, but unfortunately baggage still arrives at the wrong location on occasion. Airlines are developing RFID tags embedded into the bar coded baggage tags to interact with the conveyance systems. These RFID systems ensure that baggage reaches its intended location the first time. Library Information Systems Libraries are using RFID systems for tracking books and other properties. Books are being tagged with a separate RFID tags to accelerate checkout, and they control theft. A book leaving the premises without being checked out will set off an alarm. Even if the book is not recovered, the system is automatically updated to show that it is not available for checkout. Returnable Containers Tracking Returnable Product Containers (RPCs) track pallets, totes and other containers with RFID, and build a record of what is stored in the container. RPCs are used to package and transport produce. A grower packs and ships fruits and vegetables in RPCs for travel through distribution to a store’s produce department. When the produce container is empty, it is returned for cleaning and reuse. The RFID tag is used not only to keep track of the location of the RPC, but also to document its cleaning history, from the date and temperature of the washing to the chemicals used.
  42. 42. Car Dealerships RFID systems can be used to manage inventory of automobiles in new and used car dealerships and in rental car lots. Rental Cars For rental car companies, RFID would allow fast and easy access to maintenance and service records. Inventory Control With a RFID solution, inventory can be updated in real time without product movement, scanning or human involvement. The system allows inventory status to be determined, and could also trigger automatic orders for products that are low in inventory. Hospitals RFID can be useful in checking out and tracking expensive medical equipment. Placing a RFID tag on the diagnostic machine, monitoring, or life could read saving device these devices as they leave one area and enter another. This would allow quick and efficient location of these most important devices. Animal Identification RFID is being used in the cattle industry in the hopes of being better prepared to identify source of disease and medical histories. The goal is to secure identification of cattle by means of a tag inserted into the stomach of an animal, enabling accurate records for automated farm management. Point of Sale A RFID enabled ID card (Mobil/Exxon Speedpass) allows customers to pay for their gas by passing a RFID enabled ID card over an RFID reader at the gas pump. The system automatically charges the customer’s credit or debit card with the expense Toll Roads and Parking Garages Electronic toll collection systems and parking garage access are other examples of point-of-sale applications. Having a RFID tag within your automobile allows frequent users of tool roads to simply drive through the toll stations. The tag will be read and they can be billed each month. The same could be true for charging for use at parking garages. Utility Companies RFID could be used to identify where buried cables, pipes, etc are located. Security and Access Control The movement and use of valuable equipment and personnel resources can be monitored through RF tags attached to tools, computers, etc. or embedded in credit-card-size security badges.
  43. 43. Market Drivers Understanding how RFID works is only half the battle. In order for mass adoption to take place, it is critical to understand why companies, across industries, need to implement this technology to remain competitive and successful. In tough economic times, all businesses are looking for ways to cut costs. By automating business processes through technologies such as RFID, companies can reduce labor costs while simultaneously improving productivity and efficiency. Another adoption driver is the expansion of consumer and regulatory demands that require companies to more accurately track product-handling information. As threats to security continue to loom, regulatory bodies are becoming increasingly stringent in the requirements they place on companies, especially in industries such as food and healthcare. In order to ensure the tightest security and highest standards, companies must know where products are at all times and where they have been in the supply chain. This not only allows for date and lot tracking, but it also simplifies the process in the event of recalls. Advances in RFID technology itself are also helping to pave the way for adoption. Declining chip and reader prices, along with the growing ability to simply and inexpensively connect devices and distribute information, are making RFID implementation economically feasible for companies of all sizes. These advances, in conjunction with emerging EPC standards, are the key drivers in making RFID the UPC of the 21st century. Despite the lingering challenges, as costs associated with RFID continue to decline, the viability of utilizing RFID at the pallet, case or item level throughout the supply chain is becoming a reality. By attaching RFID tags to products, RFID creates an enormous opportunity for real-time product tracking, decreased labor costs, security against counterfeiting, and improved accuracy in distribution. Drivers of using RFID from a business perspective are: • Lower Cost: According to the National Retail Security Survey put out by the University of Florida, approximately $5.8 billion worth of inventory was lost in 2001 due to administrative errors alone. As evidenced by the fact that labor comprises approximately 30 percent of supply chain expenditures, one of the easiest ways to drive down costs is to increase operational and labor efficiencies. RFID not only ensures accuracy of information, but it also limits the amount of error-prone human interaction that is needed. With information that is updated in real-time, RFID can further reduce costs by allowing companies to decrease shrink. • Increase Revenue: With U.S. retailers losing approximately 3.8 percent of sales per year as a result of out-of-stock inventory, RFID tags allow companies to capture and track a variety of data on goods. This information aids in the development of accurate inventory forecasts.
  44. 44. • Decrease Stock Levels: Because of the speed and accuracy of RFID, orders can be filled in a shorter amount of time, allowing for quicker product availability. Reducing this order cycle time decreases the need for an over abundance of stock. • Reduce Fixed Capital: With RFID, companies can better manage fixed capital by tracking assets such as totes, pallets, etc. This reduces the need for replacement due to lost items and cuts back on the amount of redundant equipment. The overarching business benefits of RFID are obvious, but it takes many operational successes to reach these goals. In order to understand exactly how RFID can impact the bottom line, it is critical to discuss the tactical implementation of the technology, and learn what results each step of the supply chain process can yield. EPCGlobal Network You may be hearing about the EPC Global Network. A EPC Network not only consists of elements that make up a traditional RFID system like readers, tags, antennas and middleware, but it also introduces the possibility to share data with business partners. For example it may be beneficial for business partners to inform each other when merchandise is shipped and received. The EPC Global Network will also allow business partners to track product movement through the supply chain. At any time the whereabouts of pallets or cartons could be determined. EPCglobal is in the process of developing standards for each of the components making up an RFID system. There will be standards associated with the tags, readers, reader management offerings, middleware, EPC Information Services, and the Object Name Server that hosts the EPC data. These standards are crucial to ensure global interoperability. Electronic Product Code (EPC): Like the Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode, the encoded data on an EPC tag identifies the manufacturer, product, but addition allows for unique identification by the use of a serial number. EPC Tags and Readers: EPC tags, like all RFID tags, consist of a microchip attached to an antenna. EPC Readers communicate with these tags to retrieve this embedded data. EPC Middleware: This software specification for services enables data exchange between an EPC reader, or network of readers, and business information systems. EPC Information Services (EPCIS): EPC Information Services enables users to exchange data with trading partners based on EPC enabled data. Object Name Services (ONS): Much like a domain server is to the Internet, the ONS works much the same way by pointing computers to sites on the World Wide Web that host information about EPCs that are moving through the supply chain. Information can be looked at as an event registry allowing business partners to trace and track the movement of merchandise as it travels through the supply chain.
  45. 45. Security Authentication EPCIS Discovery Services ERP WMS ONS Middleware Readers Reader Maintenance Tags

×