How Do Fixed and Handheld Readers Compare for Tracking Mechanical Tools?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsHow Do Fixed and Handheld Readers Compare for Tracking Mechanical Tools?
RFID Journal Staff asked 8 months ago

There are doubts about the ability of fixed readers to identify 100 percent of tags, so which is better: a fixed or handheld model?

—Jasbir

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Jasbir,

I can’t give you an answer that one is definitively better than the other. Fixed readers may not read 100 percent of the tags on mechanical tools and parts, due to metal blocking signals from reaching the tags or from returning to the reader. However, it may be possible to place tags on objects and situate reader antennas in such a way that 100 percent accuracy is attainable. It would depend on how items are stored, how many are on each shelf and other factors.

Handheld readers have the benefit of being movable. A worker can angle an antenna and move a reader into position to read the tag on each item in order to achieve 100 percent read rates. However, employees don’t always do their job when they’re supposed to or as they’re trained to, which reduces the effectiveness of handheld readers. In addition, if many items are stacked high up on shelves, handhelds might not be able to read their tags.

Thus, effectiveness depends on the way in which a system is set up, the way workers are trained, the nature of a warehouse and other factors. I would say that with either type of system, you would likely achieve read rates high enough to justify the technology’s value and make it worth implementing, especially if your workers currently spend a lot of time searching for specific items in your warehouse.

I hope to see you at RFID Journal LIVE! 2020 in September.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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