Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an electronic method of tracking people and things as they move around – either in an indoor area, or as they move outdoors. RFID works in the same way as barcodes, allowing businesses to combine tags and electromagnetic fields so they can track their employees and assets.

RFID tracking has become an important part of businesses that depend on their assets and products to maintain their bottom line. Bringing RFID tagging and tracking on board, each business gains easy access to data on:

What assets and products they have and where;
How these assets are used;
Asset/product levels and when new assets need to be ordered.

It has become an essential part of how a company maintains and manages its supply chain process and asset management – and help them increase their bottom line. Because information comes in in real-time, RFID tracking devices have also provided businesses with effective digital security measures. With instant easy visibility on each asset’s movement, businesses can see when there has been unauthorized access or removal.

How RFID works

Each RFID system is made up of three components, including: a scanning antenna that picks up on the RF signal and stores and processes data; a reader that reads the signals sent by the RFID tag; and the RFID tag.

RFID tags, which are either high frequency (HF) or ultra-high frequency (UHF) can be either of the following:

Passive : requiring no in-built battery (hence their being smaller and cheaper). These work off the energy from the reader;
Active : has a battery built in, and occasionally transmits to readers.

Tags attached to an asset, product or person contains unique information specific to that item or person, which link up with readers to exchange information.

Once a tag has been generated, a business can then decide on salient points around their business at which to place RFID readers, which will pick up the signals sent from tags as the tags move past.

The readers can either be placed directly and permanently onto a static surface, such as a wall, or they can take the form of handheld devices. Each time a RFID tag moves within distance of the reader’s antenna, the reader picks up the information stored on the tag. The more RFID readers in place, the more accurate the incoming data will be, and the more informed decisions businesses can make.

The data picked up by the readers is then sent through to a web-based application, which can be viewed on any device the user requires. The app ensures that users gain easy-to-read, useable data and information on their assets or employees.

Why use RFID tracking?

At Tracking Vision, our focus remains firmly on providing business management with the means to keep track of their assets and to maintain the full picture of what is happening in their company.

Some of the areas that we work in, include:

Healthcare : To help hospitals and healthcare facilities provide the very best in healthcare procedures for their patients, whether it’s managing medication and monitoring patients, to ensuring proper use of assets;
Retail : Helping shops increase their bottom line with the most effective supply chain management solution available, monitoring stock levels from warehouse through to the shop-floor and preventing theft;
Libraries : Helping libraries empower their users and make each visit a more user-friendly experience, the Library Management System (LMS) ensures effective cataloguing and improved workflows;
Hospitality : The hospitality industry has expanded its use of RFID tracking from being just simple door-keys. Hotels can now track their laundry as it moves through the system, and ensure that items are not removed from rooms;
Event Management : The RFID-based answer each business needs when organizing and managing an event. Able to deal with large groups of attendees, the Event Management System ensures easy set-up and organization of registration and analysis on attendance.

RFID tag and track systems are a better option to barcoding, as RFID readers do not need to be directly in front of the scanners for their information to be read. Instead, they work just as well within a few feet of the scanner, with high frequency tags readable from up to 20 feet away.

For example, all RFID-tagged assets on a palette placed high up in warehouse shelving can be read from a distance simply by directing the scanner towards the palette. The scanner will pick up signals from the RFID tags attached to those assets, allowing easy and efficient data collection. Not only does this cut down on the time needed to individually scan each tagged item, it also ensures that even hard-to-reach items can be scanned with ease.

RFID tracking isn’t restricted to assets alone – it can also be used to track the movement of employees. In this context, RFID tracking is potentially useful when an emergency evacuation is necessary, and management requires instant data on employee location. RFID tracking is also beneficial for tracking employee productivity and reassigning work should an employee become overloaded.

An additional benefit of RFID tags is that they do not have to be attached to an asset’s surface, ensuring they do not undergo the same wear-and-tear as barcodes.

With these points in mind, RFID tag and track solutions are the way forward for businesses looking to proactively use their assets and employees, make the way they work more productive and increase their bottom line.

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