Where Can I Buy an Off-the-Shelf Solution for Tracking Cables?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsWhere Can I Buy an Off-the-Shelf Solution for Tracking Cables?
RFID Journal Staff asked 4 years ago

I am working on a solution for a small village in Kenya that is interested in tracking and detecting power cable theft. Do you have a solution you could recommend for this? Please advise.

—Paul

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Paul,

There is no off-the-shelf solution you can buy for tracking cables that I am aware of. There are certainly passive UHF RFID tags you could purchase for tagging cables, but it would be difficult to predict whether radio frequency identification could solve your problem. Let me explain.

Passive UHF RFID has a read range of about 10 to 30 feet, depending on the tag, the material of the item being tagged, the output of the reader antennas and other factors. It might be possible to install a reader in the area of the cables. You could set up the reader to ping the tag continually and then issue an alert if a tag were suddenly not read (an indicator that someone was stealing it). That might enable you to dispatch security to apprehend the thieves and recover the cable. For this to work, you would need to be able to protect the reader from being disabled by the thieves. You would need to use a tamper-evident tag, which would stop working if someone tried to remove it, and trigger a theft alert. You would also need to be able to respond to a threat alert in a timely manner.

If you are looking to use RFID to locate stolen cables, this would not work. RFID is a relatively short-range technology, so you would not be able to locate stolen cables with it unless you could get within about 20 feet of those cables. I hope this answers your question.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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