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How to Implement RFID Successfully

Select radio frequency identification as a solution only when its capabilities provide an immediate or projected benefit to a process that makes it more effective than choosing another technology.
By Bill Poulsen
Select several tags based on your project's specifications, and then run comparison tests before deciding on a specific tag for your application. The other aspects of tag selection often overlooked are quality and repeatability. Although the quality and consistency of tags has improved a hundredfold since just a few years ago, choose a tag converter that you trust, and that comes highly recommended. If you don't, you may find that one roll of tags does not perform as well as the next.

The tag's location on the tracked item is vital. Whether it is a vial of vaccine or a shipping container on a dock, the tag's orientation and position must be carefully picked and set up to be consistently read by the reader. What's more, consider the tag's placement in relation to how that item is used. If you are tagging assets or equipment, make sure the position does not interfere with normal operations or create a dangerous situation.

7. Onboard Data or Not?
Initially, one key advantage touted about RFID was its ability to store a variety of data on the tag itself, thereby making that information available wherever that tag was located. In reality, 90 percent or more of applications using UHF EPC Gen 2 tags will not require this feature. Why? Because storing additional data within a tag creates many troublesome issues—not the least of which is devising a reasonable security scheme to prevent unauthorized access to that information.

The majority of applications will simply use the RFID tag as a unique "license plate" that can be referenced to a database. Since most system users will have access to a network, that database can be easily accessed to either identify or update information regarding the tagged items. This method supports a virtually unlimited number of data fields for information that can be stored and accessed about that tag, restricted only by your database's limitations. Restricting access to your database through normal network security features means that as long as your database is secure, an unauthorized individual who reads an RFID tag is left only with a random, 96-bit serial number instead of any useful information.

8. Cables
Cabling for an RFID project is an area often overlooked until the actual installation. However, it is an important part of any RFID installation that can affect performance, ease of installation and access for maintenance.

An RFID system may utilize a combination of Ethernet data cables, power cables and coaxial cables for connecting a fixed reader to its companion antennas. At UHF frequencies, RF losses can affect performance even when using high-quality, low-loss cables. Note that each connection point generates losses, and cable lengths greater than 20 feet can significantly reduce signal levels. The shorter the RF cable length, the better the performance.

USER COMMENTS

Yalani Camara 2010-11-13 06:05:12 PM
How can I interface RFID with Web site I would like to know how to integrate RFID to interface with Web Pages. Thank you, Yalani
Stockare RFID Solutions 2016-09-02 07:16:46 AM
Nice article Bill, you explained everything in detail! Thank you. Yalami, you can add a website interface to a RFID system, if you connect the RFID reader to your web server, then you could display all the readings at a website. If you want to see an example of it, let me know. Thank you.

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