How Can I Monitor Stacked Containers?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsHow Can I Monitor Stacked Containers?
RFID Journal Staff asked 4 years ago

I have a parking area where I stack ISO tank containers. I want to identify the tanks’ locations, and also their movements within the parking lot, using RFID. How can I do this?

—Mahesh

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Mahesh,

There are a number of different ways to accomplish this. One option would be to use an ultra-wideband (UWB) active RFID system. UWB provides very precise locationing (to within 10 centimeters) in three dimensions. So you could pinpoint a specific container’s location within the parking area. The downside of UWB is that the tags are fairly expensive (around $50 apiece) and you would need to install readers around the parking facility, which may involve digging up pavement to lay power cables.

Another option might be to use passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and put transponders in the pavement at specific locations, so when a vehicle moves a container (I assume these are moved around with a forklift or some other vehicle), a reader under the vehicle would pick up the location. By reading a passive UHF RFID tag on the container and matching it to the location tag in the pavement, you could record the container’s location. The downside of this approach is that you would not know if the precise container you were looking for was at the bottom, middle or top of the stack.

A third option would be to put passive UHF RFID tags on the containers and use handheld readers to locate the specific container you are looking for. This is the least expensive approach, but it would mean you would have to walk through the parking area waving a handheld reader to locate the right container (the handheld beeps more frequently as you get closer to the tag you are looking for). This could be made more efficient by having workers record the general location of each container when it is put in the parking area or moved (which employees sometimes forget to do). Additionally, if the parking area is very large, you could mount a fixed reader inside a vehicle and drive up and down the aisles to find the general location of the unit you seek, and then utilize a handheld to confirm that you have located the correct container.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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