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Is It Possible to Scan Many Items in a Single Pass?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.12.2010
I own a film and television equipment-rental company. We have a large quantity of items that we need checked out of the warehouse and in again the next day. In one instance, we could be renting out 300 individual items that need to go into a truck. Scanning bar codes is much too time-consuming and prone to human error. We would like to be able to do it with a single pass, even if the pieces of equipment are on top of each other. Can RFID do this?

—Eduardo, the Philippines


It is possible to use an RFID system to track equipment, but the system must be designed in such a way to ensure 100 percent, or at least 99.99 percent, read accuracy. Reading tags on audio-visual equipment stacked on top of each other could be an issue. Another issue is whether the tags are on equipment made of metal, which detunes the tag. And a third could be whether the tags are knocked off as items are moved in and out.

My suggestion would be to use passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags. Active tags would be too expensive, and probably too bulky for your equipment. High-frequency (HF) tags don't provide sufficient read range. I would suggest that you put several tags on each item to ensure that you can read that item regardless of its orientation to the reader. And if items are stacked one on top of another, a tag on the side can still be read.

Multiple tags can get a little expensive, depending on the tag used. But if better tracking reduces labor costs, lost items and items not billed for, it is probably worth it. You need to work with a good systems integrator to install portals so that goods can be read automatically, and so that item status is updated automatically.

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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