Choosing a Fixed or Handheld RFID Reader

Choosing a Fixed or Handheld RFID Reader

Choosing a Fixed or Handheld RFID Reader

If you are just starting out with your research on an RFID system, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is, do I want a Fixed or a Handheld RFID reader?

Choosing between a fixed or handheld RFID reader depends on the specific needs and use case of the organization or individual.

“Fixed RFID Readers” are typically used in where items are stationary, such as in a warehouse, a manufacturing facility, or a retail store. They are permanently installed in a specific location and are connected to a power source and a network. Fixed readers are designed to read RFID tags on items as they pass by or are placed within the reader's read range. They are ideal for tracking inventory, monitoring production lines, and managing assets.

“Handheld RFID Readers” are portable and can be taken to various locations. They are ideal for mobile workers who need to scan RFID tags on items that are on the move, such as in a retail store or a shipping and logistics facility. Handheld readers typically have a shorter read range than fixed readers, but they offer greater flexibility and mobility.

Each of these types of readers can be highly beneficial in different industries. We can further understand which reader is best for our application by examining the benefits of each type of reader.

Benefits of a Fixed RFID Reader:

Fixed RFID Reader

Fig1: RFID Fixed Readers.

  • Always-on Real-Time Monitoring: Since a fixed RFID reader remains powered on and does not move, it sits quietly in the corner of the building and collects data on a continuous basis. This is why fixed RFID readers are also considered “work horses” in the RFID industry.

  • Automated Asset Management/Improved Inventory Tracking:
    Fixed RFID readers can provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, allowing businesses to track inventory levels more accurately and make informed decisions about inventory management. With always-on monitoring, no one must think about turning the reader on and doing a scan. So, if you are trying to keep track of how much inventory comes into your building a day, but don’t want to have to remember to conduct a scan each time a shipment comes in, having an always-on fixed RFID reader is a great way to automate that process.

  • Broad Read Range: Like how desktops typically more computing power have than mobile computers, fixed RFID readers typically have a higher read range than handheld readers and can monitor a larger area at one time.

  • Flexibility Antennas can be Connected to the Reader: Fixed RFID readers typically come with anywhere from 1-16 or more antenna ports depends on the specific reader model and its capabilities with option to connect antennas with a multiplexor.

  • Increased Efficiency: Fixed RFID readers are ideal for businesses and organizations that require high-speed and accurate data collection. They can be installed in a fixed location, such as a warehouse, and can automatically collect data from RFID tags which eliminates the need for manual data collection.

  • Scalability: Fixed RFID readers can be easily integrated into existing systems depending on the needs of the business. This makes them a flexible and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

  • Reduced Labour Costs: By automating data collection, Fixed RFID readers can help businesses reduce labour costs associated with manual data entry and inventory management. This allows employees to focus on more value-added tasks, such as analysing data and making strategic decisions.

Benefits of a Handheld RFID Reader:

Handheld RFID Reader

Fig2: RFID Handheld Readers/Scanners.

  • Simple to Use: Many handheld readers have key functionalities that make data collection and transfer even easier by translating the codes of the RFID tag without the need for RFID middleware, which may be required for fixed RFID readers (for more on RFID middleware, visit this link).
  • Flexibility: Handheld RFID readers can be used in a variety of settings, from warehouses to retail stores to hospitals.
  • Geiger Counter Function for Locating Items: The Geiger counter has a sort of “hot/cold” functionality that allows you to locate items by beeping faster as you get close to the item you are looking for.
  • Easily Transportable: A handheld RFID reader can be carried with ease, allowing users to read tags in the field or on the go. They are lightweight and battery powered.
  • Integration: Handheld RFID readers can be easily integrated with existing systems, such as inventory management software, to provide real-time data and improve overall efficiency.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Handheld RFID readers are often less expensive than fixed readers, making them a cost-effective solution for many applications.
  • No Physical Installation Required - Quick Deployment:  Unlike a fixed RFID reader, which requires mounting and cabling, handheld readers have no installation requirements other than to simply turn on the unit and start reading RFID tags.

Overall, handheld RFID readers offer a convenient, efficient, and cost-effective way to read RFID tags and manage inventory or track assets.

As seen above, each type of reader has a unique set of benefits. Now, let’s examine how these benefits can be applied to different use cases.

Sample Use Cases where Fixed RFID Readers can be used

  • Warehouses/Distribution centres:  For businesses looking to track inventory in their warehouses or distribution centres, a fixed RFID reader is a great choice because a single reader can typically cover the expanse of the building, enabling the business with consistent, real-time inventory visibility.

  • Asset Tracking: Fixed RFID readers can be used to track and monitor the location and movement of assets, such as vehicles, tools, and equipment. This helps businesses in asset utilization, reduce loss, and improve maintenance schedules.

  • Healthcare Asset Management: Fixed RFID readers can be used to track and monitor the movement of medical equipment and supplies in hospitals and clinics. This helps healthcare providers optimize asset utilization, reduce waste, and improve patient care.

  • Manufacturing: If you’re looking to track items as they move across a conveyor belt line, you probably won’t want to chase them around the facility with a handheld RFID reader. Instead, having a mounted fixed reader over the conveyor belt will allow the tags to automatically be captured as they pass through the Read zone.

  • Retail: Fixed RFID readers can also be used as POS (point of sales) systems. For example, the Caen Hex Multipurpose RAIN RFID Reader with POE has been used as a tabletop checkout scanner. Instead of using a barcode scanner, a retail sales associate can simply run items over the top of the reader and instantly scan them, which charge the customer as well as update the inventory system that this item has been removed.

Overall, fixed RFID readers can be used in a variety of applications to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance asset tracking and management.

Sample Cases where Handheld RFID Readers can be used:

  • Uniform Tracking:  Depending on the model of handheld reader you choose, scanned data can typically show up directly on the display of the device (or attached smart device in the case of a handheld sled reader) at the time of scan. For example, if you need to issue out a uniform to an employee, you can quickly scan the uniform and see right away if the uniform you have scanned is assigned to the employee who is patiently waiting at the checkout counter.
  • Healthcare: Handheld RFID readers can be used in healthcare to track medical equipment, supplies, and patient records. They can be used to quickly locate equipment or supplies and ensure that patients receive the correct treatment.
  • Laundry Management: For a business whose bread and butter involves traveling to different locations to pick up loads of laundry, having fixed RFID readers at each location would be a very lengthy deployment process. Instead, it would be much simpler (and more cost-effective) to have a single handheld unit that the driver takes on his or her routes, conducting scans at each of the locations visited on a given day.
  • Inventory management: Handheld RFID readers can be used to quickly scan and track inventory in warehouses, retail stores, and other businesses. They can be used to read the tags on products and update inventory levels in real-time.
  • Hospitality: Handheld RFID readers can be used in hotels and resorts to track room keys and guest preferences. They can be used to quickly identify guests and personalize their experience.
  • Asset Tracking: Handheld RFID readers can be used to track assets such as equipment, tools, and vehicles. They can be used to read RFID tags on these items and update their location and status in a central database.

These are just a few examples of how handheld RFID readers can be used. With their versatility and portability, they can be used in a wide range of applications and industries.

This is, of course, a very broad overview of how these readers is used in various situations. The type of reader you select for your application will change depending on several variables. For assistance in selecting a handheld or fixed reader for your application, please Contact us!

Apr 7th 2023 Rajeev Singh

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