Along with the development of the Internet of things, RFID(Radio-frequency identification) technology has been applied in many scenarios, including access control, public transportation, cashier, electronic toll collection, apparel management, anti-counterfeiting, enterprise asset management, factory production line optimization, people and equipment positioning management, etc. RFID is becoming one of the technologies that change the way people live. However, there are several kinds of RFID technologies, how to choose the right RFID tag and design the solution is not only related to the cost, time, and quality of a project but also may affect the success of the project.
Let’s review different RFID technologies and classification before discussing the RFID tag sizing skill:
From the power supply mode, the RFID tag is divided into Action mode and Passive mode, Active RFID tag(Bluetooth Beacon) means that the tag is powered by a battery, its main operating frequency is 433MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz (UWB), while Passive RFID tag means it runs without battery and the tag is activated by the radio sent by an RFID reader; Based on the operating frequency, passive RFID tags can be divided into 3 categories, low frequency (125-134 kHz), high frequency (13.56 MHz) and ultra-high frequency (860-960 MHz). different RFID technologies own their specific features, advantages, and disadvantages, which are suitable for specific applications. Their features are described as follows:
Crepak’s consultant often got inquiries like “I want to use RFID for warehouse management, please give me the price of the RFID tag & reader and lead time”; this kind of simple question always makes us confused to make a proposal, since the information is not enough for sizing and quotation, therefore, our usual reply is:
Dear Sir/Madam, we know you are willing to deploy RFID for your project, in order to provide appropriate RFID products for your project, we need to clarify a few things firstly, and these questions are the base for RFID tag sizing, also it is the essential skill for a good RFID solution;
Question 1: WHAT IS THE SCENARIO?
A scenario is usually a basic description of an RFID project, including the project background, operating process, pain point, expected benefit from the RFID deployment, etc.; For a senior RFID tag consultant, he would evaluate to know what kind of RFID technologies is the best choice for that specific scenario; for example, if the scenario is asset tracking, and bulk reading of tags is needed, ultra-high frequency technology is usually recommended. If the scenario is data capture in the production line or flexible manufacturing, low frequency, high frequency or ultra-high frequency are the choices but for most, the case low frequency and high frequency are better; If the scenario is animal identification, low-frequency tags are usually suggested. If the scenario is real-time indoor location management, automatic inventory checking of assets or equipment, or a non-stop toll system, then an active RFID tag (Bluetooth beacon) is a better choice.
QUESTION 2: WHAT IS THE SPECIFICATION OF THE ASSETS AND HOW IS THE TAG TO BE ATTACHED TO?
RFID Tag is normally attached to an asset, and the specification of the asset is always a key factor for tag sizing, and the attaching ways.
QUESTION 3: WHAT IS THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE TAGS TO BE APPLIED?
Internet of Things, the things are existing at everywhere, it is difficult for one tag to be used in all kinds of environment, we need to choose the appropriate product for the specific condition: and the conditions we need to know are:
QUESTION 4: WHAT IS THE REQUIRED LIFETIME OF THE TAG?
QUESTION 5: WHAT IS THE NEEDED RF PERFORMANCE AND MEMORY?
Reading distance of RFID tag can be 1mm to 300 meters, and tag quantity that can be identified is from 1 to 1000 simultaneously, tag memory can be 1 bit to 1Mb：
QUESTION 6: WHAT IS THE BUDGET?
For an application, multiple RFID technologies may meet the requirements, it is not that simple to choose the lowest cost product, sometimes tag cost is low but the operation cost is high, or tag cost is high but due to its operation way, it can reduce indirect cost or even it can be re-used to save total cost; and in some case, we need to consider about the reader, antenna and deployment cost. A skillful and professional consultant is necessary for an RFID project, they will not only choose a high performance/price ratio tag, but also evaluate the reader, antenna cost, as well as deployment and maintenance cost; Generally speaking, an RFID label is cheaper than an RFID tag with housing or made in a special process, Low frequency and high-frequency tags are expensive but reader and implementation costs are low, ultra high frequency tags cost are low, but reader and implementation costs are high; Active tags & Bluetooth Beacons’ themselves and their implementation and maintenance costs are high, but they can be extended to more applications to bring extra value.
As a summary, we need to ask at least above 6 questions before designing an RFID solution and choosing the right RFID tag, there are already many RFID tags, RFID readers, RFID antennas in the market to meet general requirements, if they are all not applicable, then a customized product is needed, as a professional RFID supplier in the market, Crepak has been developing RFID tags, readers or smart equipment for many clients, if you have any query, please don’t hesitate to inquire our experienced consultant at [email protected]