Can I trace a file's movements from one person to another, or from one department to another? And what is the reliability of such a system, given the potential for interference?
Radio frequency identification is often used for file management. We have published a number of articles about successful deployments (see the links below). Generally speaking, companies set up a system to identify who has checked out and returned a file. Determining which individual has a specific file at a given time, and if it is being passed from person to person, would require the installation of readers at every desk.
There are a variety of USB readers on the market, so it is not necessarily cost-prohibitive, but such a solution would require workers to faithfully present every tagged file to an interrogator. If an employee were to forget to do this, the system would only indicate that the file was with the last person who had made sure the tag was read. This would likely be a far bigger issue than interference.
Designing a fully automated solution that would allow a file's location to be determined without personnel taking action would be a more complex and expensive undertaking, requiring the installation of readers within every office—probably above a door or desk. That would involve wiring and other issues. Some businesses have resolved this obstacle by affixing ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags to files, and employing a passive handheld reader to locate any files that have not been returned to a cabinet. (Motorola produces handheld readers that beep like a Geiger counter. As you get closer to a tag that you are searching for, that tag's signal strength becomes stronger, and the handheld beeps louder.)
Here are some articles you might find useful:
In addition, Jonathan Poole, Recall Corp.'s RFID manager, will offer a presentation at our upcoming RFID Journal LIVE! 2012 event, about using radio frequency identification for document management (see Thinking Outside the Carton: Using RFID for Document Management).
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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