Simple RFID tags cannot reach every corner of our plant. How can we enhance its capabilities? Should we use Wi-Fi? GPS? What would be the proper solution?
First, I would dispute that radio frequency identification cannot cover all areas of a plant. Many automobile manufacturers are using active RFID systems to track parts bins and other items throughout massive facilities. Passive RFID systems using overhead readers can also cover large factories. Mojix's STAR reader has been tested successfully at a large Daimler facility, for instance (see Daimler Sees Potential Benefits of Using RFID to Track Quality-Control).
One thing to consider is whether you need real-time visibility in every area of your factory. It might be possible, for example to deploy passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID portal readers in some areas to track that a given part went to a particular shop for maintenance. If a part were interrogated going in but not coming out, then you would know that it was still in that shop. Even if the shop was large, a handheld RFID reader could be used to quickly locate the part.
If you require real-time visibility, the proper system to deploy would depend on what you need to track in real time. If you need to monitor parts bins, it might be possible to use more expensive active tags. Active tags can be utilized for tracking large tools, jigs and other equipment as well. These tags can connect to existing Wi-Fi access points, or you could install active RFID throughout your facility. In short, the proper solution would depend on what you were trying to achieve. A passive system might be best, or an active or hybrid system.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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