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Deploying RFID Is Less Risky

Mature hardware and software—and solutions tested by early adopters—mean less trial and error for companies adopting the technology today.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 03, 2015

Passive ultrahigh-frequency radio frequency identification systems have been available for roughly a decade. Passive low-frequency and high-frequency and active RFID systems have been around longer than that. Each year, the various solutions become more robust, new products are developed, and technology standards make tags and readers more reliable. The increasing maturation of the technology means less risk for companies seeking to deploy RFID today.

Five or six years ago, a firm that wanted to track and manage, say, hoists on a construction site, sections of oil pipe or surgery scalpels had to work with an RFID company to develop tags specifically for its needs. It then had to test the tags and make refinements until it had a workable solution. It was a time-consuming and expensive process, with no guaranteed outcome.

Illustration: iStockphoto
But that effort—across most industries, for many different types of assets—has led to an explosion in active and passive tags of various shapes and sizes. Some are designed for challenging operational settings and others incorporate sensors to monitor environmental conditions. Moreover, most have been tested in real-world deployments. And, as the tags are commercialized, costs have come down.

Many end users are surprised to learn that there is a tag for almost any product or application. Last year at RFID Journal LIVE!, for example, Richard Parker, a senior plasma receiving supervisor at Grifols, a global developer of life-saving protein therapies, visited several exhibitors and told them what he was trying to do. "There were a few 'wow' moments," he says, explaining they understood exactly what he was looking for and could provide a solution.

Miguel Torrejon, cell leader at GE Power & Water, who also attended LIVE! 2014, had a similar experience: "The number of suppliers and vendors that are out there for this technology—I wasn't expecting that many."

Among the new tags that will be on display at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! are passive tags that monitor voltage, strain and moisture. They could be embedded in buildings and other environments on a large scale, because they are inexpensive and have no batteries to change.

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