Radio frequency identification (RFID) uses radio frequency tags and readers for transmission and reception of radio signals. RFID tags come in two types, active and passive. Active tags have an in-built battery in them, and are expensive due to the type of battery used, while passive tags are simple ones, with no internal battery, and much cheaper than active tags.
RFID is not recent technology; it has been used for decades by different organizations. However, initially, the cost of implementing this technology was very high. This is the reason very few people knew about it. This technology is advancing day-by-day and research is on to help reduce the cost that can lead to easy availability of RFID services. This technology is rapidly replacing the barcode system, which has been popular until now. Its applications are known to have many benefits over the other automatic identification technologies.
RFID tags are made rugged and robust so that they can be used in any harsh environment and temperatures. The oldest application of this technology is animal husbandry. Earlier, plastic tags, that easily wore out after a few weeks, were used for tracking animals. These have now been replaced by RFID tags. Injectable RFID tags are also available these days, which can be used for tracking the animals easily. These tags have the information about the age of animal, medical history, and vaccinations. Other systems do not provide the facility of maintaining all the information in addition to keeping track of the animal. RFID technology has made many tasks in animal husbandry very easy.
The rapid advancement in RFID technology has made it possible to manufacture tags in many shapes and sizes. Also, the information written on the tags cannot be duplicated easily. The tags are thus, superior than barcodes, because easy duplication is not possible. RFID technology is also more effective for security purposes. Many retail shops and stores (especially jewelry stores) used the barcode system earlier. The barcode system used for security purposes has known to have failed many times. Even CCTV cameras do not prove to be helpful in many cases. These systems are not very effective in avoiding theft. Instead, these systems are used for identifying the thieves after a theft has already occurred. RFID, on the other hand, provides an anti-theft mechanism to the stores. The tags are used with every item in the stores. The RFID reader is usually kept at some place near the exit door of the store, with an alarm system attached to it. This system is particularly deployed for expensive items to prevent the theft of these valuables.
Misinterpretation is always witnessed in case of paper or plastic tags. These human errors can be eliminated using RFID technology. This is the reason RFID tags are widely used in blood banks. The labels on the blood banks are sometimes identical and misinterpreted due to panic situations. The blood banks embed these tags on the label of the blood packets or bottles. When a paramedic staff wants a particular blood group, the RFID reader can easily let him know the correct packet.
The storage capacity of RFID tags is greater than that of barcodes. Barcodes just give us the manufacturer and the product type. Additional data related to the product can be stored in RFID tags and they can form a better tracking system. In retail stores, the customer has to go empty-handed when a certain item or product is out of stock. This situation is tackled by the RFID tracking system. The store-keeper or store in-charge is given an alert when the last item of a particular product in a store is purchased, so that adequate stock is always available. This helps to improve customer service and satisfaction, and thus, can prove to be advantageous for increasing business profits.
Lastly, RFID tags are unique. This makes the system highly reliable and error-free. The RFID system reduces the labor cost of the company by providing a good tracking system. Operations like tracking the pallets, cases, and cartons can be efficiently done using this technology. The tags are attached to each carton or case and the related information is written on the tag. This technology can be effectively used in stock management.
The RFID system has numerous benefits, but the technology is still quite expensive. Though the cost has reduced since the inception of the technology, it is still not very cheap and remains unaffordable for small businesses. This is the primary reason for it not being incorporated in every possible field.