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The Laser Barcode Scanner to RFID Identification: A Metamorphosis

However, for the modern day business this solution may appear somewhat limited. The logical and physical process behind using a laser handheld barcode scanner is a slow one since barcodes are a linear, line of sight technology which required human interaction most of the time. In addition, laser barcodes are restricted in how much information they can store. A new system needed to be developed.

RFID is a wireless data collection technology that can take the shape of a small chip and can be attached to a product. The use of radio waves means that RFID chips do not need to be in direct contact with a receiver and can be tracked by location through wireless or cellular points or GPS. In addition, where traditional barcodes can be tampered with, information is hard-wired within the chip itself. Furthermore, multiple tags can be read at once.

Characteristics of RFID Asset Tracking

As a relatively new technology, it is important to understand the characteristics of RFID tags that differ from traditional laser barcode scanner barcodes. First of all, memory is defined as the ability to read and write to the tag. A read only tag often includes just a unique identifier, such as product code. The distance that RFID tags can be read from is always increasing and it is important to note that high frequency tags have a longer range, currently around 1 metre whereas low frequency tags have a range less than 25cm. Finally, active tags are powered with an internal battery but in order to maintain cost effectiveness and small form, passive RFID tags are powered by the reader.

Real World Applications

Since RFID tags have enhance sensing capabilities and the ability to transmit information, there is potential for regulating product or stock. Boxes of fish, the physical product that moves its way through the supply chain, can be monitored for temperature or whether it has been properly stored. If any one of its configured parameters is violated, such as an increase in nominal temperatures, an alert can be sent via SMS or another form of communication.

The End of the Laser Barcode Scanner?

One aspect of improving supply chain management is increasing the efficiency of sending and receiving goods. For example, a number of large retailers now require suppliers to use RFID tags on goods, such as pallets, to allow stock management to take place much more efficiently at the retail site. Suppliers can tag their goods as they leave the warehouse with information such as identification, priority levels and stock handling information.

RFID tags are extremely powerful devices that certainly have their advantages. However, just like barcodes and laser barcode scanners, RFID tags need to be standardised to allow effective communication between devices.