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What Type of RFID System Could Be Used to Track Refrigerators?

Posted By RFID Journal, 05.29.2013

We are an ice-cream company, and we provide retail shops with refrigerators that we then need to track and inventory. What would be the best solution?

—Name withheld


It would be difficult to answer this question without knowing the precise processes currently being utilized to track the inventory, but I'll describe the technology and how it might work. You would affix a durable on-metal passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag to a refrigerator and associate each tag ID with a serial number on the unit. This information would be stored within a database. The refrigeration unit must also be associated with a particular location. One option might be to affix an RFID transponder to the wall near the refrigeration unit, if the store owner allowed it (a serialized bar code could be used as well). The RFID tag or bar code would then be linked with a specific store location.

When a new refrigerator was brought to a location, a delivery person would scan the location identifier and enter that data on his or her handheld. That individual would then read the RFID tag on the new unit being delivered, and press a button on the handheld to associate the unit with that location. When the worker returned to take inventory, he or she would scan the bar code or read the RFID tag identifying the location, and then quickly read the tags on the refrigeration unit. Software on the handheld could be set up to indicate when all units have been read, or to indicate that not all have been accounted for.

The data collected would be stored locally on the handheld unit. There would need to be some way to get it into your existing software system. One alternative would be for the driver to cradle the handheld upon returning to a warehouse or office location. Another would be to connect the handheld to a phone via Bluetooth and upload the data via the cell network (nowadays, the handheld could actually be the driver's phone).

So I would recommend passive UHF technology for this application. If you need to know the precise locations of the refrigerators in real time, then you would likely require an active RFID real-time location system (RTLS). If you would like to discuss this application in greater depth, we can speak by telephone.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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