The International RFID Conference 2014 was held in Dusseldorf last month, bringing together worldwide leaders, international experts and RFID users and providers.
RFID was highlighted as the next step in data capture technology, working alongside and enhancing barcode technology. The main difference being RFID’s ability to capture large amounts of data and read multiple tags simultaneously, therefore improving speed and accuracy.
The RFID Congress explored the durability and resilience of RFID tags and the multiple verticals they can add value to. “Often the RFID tag is specifically used because the item being tracked is in difficult or harsh environments where a barcode won’t survive,” said Jim Sheldon, general manager of Trimble’s Mobile Computing Solutions Division. “The rugged design of this handheld computer is an ideal solution for reading RFID in outdoor and extreme situations.”
RFID provides users with a better visibility of assets as well as employees, for example, out in the field, site tools can be lost, assets misplaced or stolen. Tagging these assets with RFID tags can ensure you keep track of these items. Managing inventory reduces losses, down time and therefore improving productivity. RFID is also being tested to improve health and safety by placing RFID tags in clothing and helmets.
RFID readers incorporate a read-write facility streamlining data collection and recording. At Varlink we are seeing an increase in RFID reader devices coming into the hardware market, the Trimble Juno T41 R being one. As a rugged, powerful and compact RFID smartphone the RFID module can be combined with enhanced real-time 1-2 metre GPS accuracy and/or Smartphone connectivity, enabling customers to select the most appropriate model to meets their needs.
The Juno T41 R can be used in a range of industries including oil and gas, for the inspection and maintenance of pipelines. With RFID the monitoring process becomes much more efficient, parts of the pipeline can be tagged and incorporate details such as maintenance, repairs or part replacement, thus reducing potential failures.
Devices with UHF RFID technology, similar to the Juno T41 can track inventory, support access and provide safety enhancements for utility workers. Standard tags are low cost with more flexibility than barcode systems, tags can be designed for metal, tags on liquid containers and tags on people. Durability, flexibility and security are all valuable to utilities and help drive down cost.
The congress presented the many benefits RFID offers and how it can be more beneficial than using typical barcode technology. The conclusion and future highlights that RFID will never replace barcodes, due to their inexpensive outlay, RFID and barcodes will simply coexist.