I am looking to verify that the correct part has been loaded inside small cardboard cartons passing end to end slowly along a conveyor. I just need a simple pass/fail verification, so the reader is looking for a single set code. Would RFID be a good technology for this application?
I'm almost certain that it would, but how the system should be implemented would depend on your current business processes. Let's say you produce 1,000 units each of Parts A, B, C and D daily. If you run off the first 1,000, and then the next 1,000 and so forth, then you can apply tags to each at the end of the line and write Part A to user memory. Then, do the same to Part B, Part C and Part D. When the items are boxed up, you would need to set up a scanner that reads the bar code on the box to identify Part A, and link it to software that also is connected to the RFID reader. If the reader interrogates Part A in user memory, you get a green light. If there is an issue, an alert could be generated or you could set up a mechanism to kick the box off the line so the correct part could be put in the box.
This is a relatively simple application. Things get more complicated if parts come off the line randomly. Then you would need to identify which parts should get which information written to user memory. That might require an operator to press a button for Part A, B, C or D, and operators tend to make errors. It might require some system of reading an identifier that is affixed to the part.
Either way, this can be done. I think the bigger question is this: Is the value of using RFID greater than the cost? Depending on the nature of the part (whether it's metal, how big is it, etc.), the tag could cost anywhere from 12 cents to two or three dollars.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal