Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is a powerful tool for asset tracking and inventory management. It is extremely efficient and fairly simple to implement, making it one of the go-to solutions for automatic identification and data capture (Auto-ID) systems. You simply tag assets with small radio transponders which are encoded with identifying inventory numbers, and read these digital fingerprints using dedicated RFID tag readers.
RFID tags are typically classified as either active or passive, referring to whether or not they contain an on-board power source. They can also be distinguished by their operating frequencies. Low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio signals can all be utilised by RFID systems, covering a nominal range from around 125 kilohertz (KHz) to 3000 megahertz (MHz). UHF RFID tag readers are most commonly in the 860—960 MHz band.
Both LF and HF RFID are inhibited by comparatively short read ranges and the low frequency transmission rates and tag protocols also mean they are suitable for reading one tag at a time. The benefits of Auto-ID asset management are contingent on the underlying technology’s ability to accurately and quickly identify objects, which can be difficult when readers need to effectively be in near-contact with tags to detect a signal.
Data read rates and range are determined by the tag protocol. Lower frequencies are associated with a non-cooperation mechanism which means all tags within range become excited and try to respond to the reader at once. UHF passive tags feature a unique anti-collision function, which means UHF RFID tag readers can subsequently trigger and accurately read multiple passive tags within of tens of meters (function of reader power and size of passive tag antenna), dramatically improving the speed and reliability of Auto-ID protocols.
Using radiofrequencies in hazardous zones can contribute towards the risk of explosion. Most readers, including UHF RFID tag readers, generate an electromagnetic field that exceeds the RMS value limitations established by IEC standards.
It is subsequently important that tag readers are certified for use in hazardous zones in order to enable the full capabilities of robust Auto-ID asset management. Whether deployed as a handheld, smart tracking device or in a fixed, intrinsically-safe hazardous area enclosure, UHF RFID tag readers empower users with the ability to locate assets across sites with near-flawless traceability and efficiency.
Here is an example: At Extronics, we have developed a portable UHF RFID tag reader known as the iRFID500. This highly durable, ergonomic tracker is designed to read passive RFID tags such as the iTAG500 series, which feature a unique plasmonic structure. This dramatically improves reliability in areas that would typically interfere with ultra-high radiofrequencies.
The Extronics team has curated a catalogue of high-performance Auto-ID asset management solutions for challenging working environments, from process plants to petrochemical facilities. If you are looking to improve your stock monitoring protocols with UHF RFID technology, simply contact a member of the Extronics team today.
For more information, please speak to a member of our team by emailing us at email@example.com or calling us on +44 (0)1606 738 446.
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