The significant advantage of all types of RFID systems is the noncontact, non-line-of-sight nature of the technology. Unlike a bar code, a large number of RFID tags can be read almost instantaneously through other materials (though some materials may cause problems) and they can be read through plastic, cardboard, wood and etc. Theoretically, this means that you could take a pallet of mixed products, all of which contain individual RFID tags, and have an RFID reader read all the tags within the palletized load without having to physically move any of the materials or open any cases. Thus, inventory can be performed in a highly efficient method. The RFID tags can store data and can also be read in challenging circumstances at remarkable speeds, in most cases responding in less than 100 milliseconds. In interactive applications such as work-in-process or maintenance tracking, the read/write capability of an active RFID system is also a significant advantage.
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RFID equipment damage occurs much less frequently than is the case with magnetic strips or barcodes. RFID tags are less susceptible to damage and can be read through a variety of substances such as ice, snow, paint, fog, crusted grime, and other visually and environmentally challenging conditions, where barcodes or other optically read technologies would be useless. RFID tags can be sealed within a plastic enclosure eliminating many of the problems that plague bar codes in harsh environments where they are exposed to chemicals, high temperature or moisture, abrasion, dirt and grease buildup, etc. If the implementation provides a significant method to improve business processes, the total cost of ownership should go down over the years and provide a good Return on investment (ROI). Supply chain management forms the major part of retail business and RFID systems play a key role by managing updates of stocks, transportation and logistics of the product. The aim is to reduce administrative error, labor costs associated with scanning bar codes, internal theft, errors in shipping goods and overall inventory levels.
The combination of all above mentioned advantages will provide quick access to a wealth of information, eliminate human errors, and reduce labour which lead to reduce project activity times and to save project costs.
5.2: Disadvantage of RFID technology
Lack of standardization, high costs of implementation, technology deployment risks, and the elimination of unskilled labour are all contributors currently preventing the adoption of new RFID technologies in the construction industry.
Cost is the biggest hurdle to RFID tags replacing bar codes for item-level tracking of low-cost products. RFID systems are typically more expensive than alternatives such as barcode systems. In addition, software and support personnel needed to install and operate the RFID reading systems (in a warehouse for example) may be more costly to employ.
Liquid and metal surfaces tend to reflect the radio waves, which makes the tags unreadable so, RFID tags cannot be read well when placed on metal or liquid objects or when these objects are between the reader and the tag. The tags have to be placed in various alignments and angles for taking proper reading. This is a tedious task when the work involves big firms.
Tag and reader collision are common problems with RFID. Tag collision occurs when numerous tags are present in a confined area. The RFID tag reader energizes multiple tags simultaneously, all of which reflect their signals back to the reader. This result in tag collision, and the RFID reader fails to differentiate between incoming data. RFID reader collision results when the coverage area managed by one RFID reader overlaps with the coverage area of another reader. This causes signal interference and multiple reads of the same tag.
RFID standards are still being developed. You don’t want to invest in an RFID system that is based on soon-to-be obsolete specs. RFID technology ultimately involves software that allows each user to be identified by a central database. This infrastructure will certainly be under attack by hackers. Water, static discharge or high-powered magnetic surges (such as lightning strike) may damage the tags.
With more research, the flaws and limitations of this technology can be removed. This will make RFID technology very useful for diverse sectors like retail, and transport. Developments in RFID technology continue to yield larger memory capacities, wider reading ranges, and faster processing. RFID will continue to grow in its established niches where barcode or other optical technologies are not effective. If some standards commonality is achieved – whereby RFID equipment from different manufacturers can be used interchangeably – the market will very likely grow exponentially.
6: RFID APPLICATIONS
There are various applications of RFID technology in different industries for both logistical traceability for tracking the location and progress of an object, and qualitative traceability for associating any additional information to products (Karkkainen, 2005). Retail, food, defence, pharmaceutical, healthcare, manufacturing and transport are just some of the sectors where RFID has already been extensively applied (Wilding and Delgado 2004, ERABUILD Report 2006, and Smith and Konsynski 2007). Tagging provides asset visibility, identification and positioning, and enables total inventory management. Different sectors require different approaches but a common factor to all is adequately determining a basic unit or unit set for tagging (e.g. pallets, packages, single items, containers, etc.)(Radosavljevic and Dan-Asabe, 2007).
Increasingly, retail/CPG and Pharmaceutical companies are looking to use RFID to track goods within their supply chain, to work in process and for other applications. Today, CPG and retail companies are using RFID to track promotional displays, reduce out-of-stocks and improve shipping and receiving accuracy. Manufactures are using RFID to track work-in-process, perfect just-in-time manufacturing, improve shipping accuracy, and manage inventory and warrantee information (RFIDJournal, 2010).
Auto manufacturers are among the leading users of RFID technology today. Most cars have an RFID reader in the steering column and a transponder in the key. If the ID in the key doesn’t match the number the reader is looking for, the car won’t stop. This system has greatly reduced auto theft. Auto companies also use RFID to track work-in-process, perfect just-in-time manufacturing, improve shipping accuracy, and manage inventory and warrantee information (RFIDJournal, 2010).
Hospitals and health-care providers are using RFID technology to track patients and high-value assets, as well as ensure patient safety. One company offers a system to track surgical sponges to ensure they are not inadvertently left behind in patients. And many hospitals are now tracking patients to ensure the right patient is given the proper care. These systems tend to reduce the data-entry workload of nurses, and also let them spend more time caring for patients and automate the process of billing. Additionally, hospitals are tracking high-value assets, including gurneys, wheel chairs, oxygen pumps and defibrillators. These systems reduce the time employees spend looking for assets, improve asset utilization and enhance the hospitals’ ability to performed scheduled maintenance (RFIDJournal, 2010).
Pharmaceutical companies are exploring RFID’s potential in many areas, including improving supply-chain efficiencies, complying with government information-collection requirements, reducing counterfeiting; creating electronic pedigrees and ensuring public safety by making sure only legitimate drugs enter the supply chain (RFIDJournal, 2010).
Thousands of companies around the world use RFID today to improve internal efficiencies. Club Car, a maker of golf carts uses RFID to improve efficiency on its production line (Jonathan Collins, 2004). Paramount Farms – one of the world’s largest suppliers of pistachios – uses RFID to manage its harvest more efficiently (Bob Violino, 2004). NYK Logistics uses RFID to improve the throughput of containers at its busy Long Beach, Calif., distribution center (Jennifer Maselli, 2003).
Wilding, R. and Delgado, T. (2004). “RFID – Applications within the Supply Chain.” Supply
Chain 6(2), 36-49.
Smith, H. and Konsynsky, B. (2003). “Developments in Practice X: Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID)-An Internet for Physical Objects.” Communication Association for
Information System, 12, 301-311.
Karkkainen, M. (2005). Forwarder Independent Tracking System-Problem Description and
Solution Design Proposal. Ph.D. Diss., Dept. of Ind. Eng., Helsinki University of
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