RFID tags play an important role when it comes to any RFID project. To help you out, we’ve outlined some frequently asked questions (FAQs) when it comes to RFID tags and choosing the right one for your project.=
What is the difference between active and passive RFID tags?
Active RFID tags have a battery and transmit out their own signal on a predefined (often times configurable interval) This signal may be received by an active RFID reader. Depending on the tag, this battery may be built into the tag or may be field replaceable. Passive RFID tags do not have a battery. Instead, they get activated when they get into the field of view of a passive RFID reader. In most cases, passive RFID tags are more cost effective than active RFID tags. However, since active RFID tags do a have a battery, this can assist with providing greater accuracy for certain use cases.
There is actually a third category of RFID tags which is known as semi-passive or battery assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags. These types of RFID tags have a battery like active RFID tags but the communication works like passive tags where it still relies on the RFID reader to power on and then send back the signal. The purpose of this battery is to provide either sensory functionalities (temperature, moisture, humidity, GPS, etc.) or to extend the range of the standard passive tag by taking advantage of the battery.
What read distance will an RFID tag provide me?
The distance that an RFID tag can be read varies on a variety of factors including the type of RFID tag, the environment the tag is being used (for example, is there a lot of metal and liquid), how the RFID tag is attached as well as where on the item is the RFID tag attached.
Although most RFID tags have an approximate read range listed on their spec sheet, it is always a great idea to test the range out in your environment. It is important to test this out using the similar workflows as if you were scanning in production.
What information can I store on my RFID tag?
There are a wide variety of strategies when it comes to data storage on an RFID tag. It truly depends on your use case. One strategy is to leverage pre-printed, pre-encoded RFID tags. In this case, you associate the pre-printed, pre-encoded RFID tag value using RFID software. The value of this approach is simplicity of association. A second strategy is to encode data that is application or use case specific directly on to the RFID tag. In some cases, just key data such as a product number or serial number may be encoded, in others, it may include a wide variety of information, such as the full service history of the item. The quantitative amount of information that can be stored on the RFID tag varies on the memory availability of the tag.
What is the cost for an RFID tag?
The cost of an RFID tag truly depends on the type of RFID tag – certain passive UHF RFID labels can be just cents while specialized and protected RFID tags for harsh environment can be dollars. Adding memory, batteries and sensors often times increases the cost as well!
What materials can I apply RFID tag on?
With the advancement of RFID technology there are RFID tags available for many materials. From a physics perspective, traditionally both metal and water (or anything liquid) have been challenging to work with for RFID. For most RFID frequencies, metal reflects RF so it different to energize passive tags. However, today, there are special on metal RFID tags (all passive) available that can be applied to items or assets with metal content. Water (or other liquids) absorb RF and again, take away the energy to energize passive RFID tags; however, special attachment methods such as a flag RFID tag can overcome those obstacles.
How do I get my RFID data back to my ERP or WMS?
An RFID middleware, such as TagMatiks Core, is an efficient method to feed your RFID data back into your ERP or WMS.
How does RFID differ from barcode?
RFID provides the ability to read multiple items at the same time. (Whereas with barcode, you would need to scan individually). This provides efficiency as well as increased accuracy (reduce the chance of double scanning or missing an item) In addition, RFID also provides a hidden benefit of serialization as each RFID tag, thus item/asset, has to be unique from a communication perspective. RFID also doesn’t require direct line of sight, so you typically can read stacks of items without manual intervention.
If you need assistance choosing an RFID tag for your project, feel free to contact us.