Where to begin with RFID?

I think the most difficult thing for me to deal with when starting this blog is where to begin. Over the years I have seen and learned so much about RFID. I watched it evolve from dedicated roots in security and manufacturing track and traceability to low-cost, widespread commercial/consumer use. So there are many things I could choose to start with. But I think I’ll start with something very basic that I have some experience with, specifically “why is there a category called Industrial RFID“?

Well it’s as basic as helping users draw the product distinctions between the more widely know commercial RFID and manufacturing or security RFID. Commercial based RFID, commonly recognized with names like “Wal-Mart” associated with it, in other words, very large-scale projects with low-cost throwaway tags typically under a dollar target cost and many times in the millions of dollars in scope, or the more specific manufacturing based industrial type of RFID used for very rugged installations with reusable and hardened tags in applications like industrial assembly or machine tool. Balluff, my company for example, has been making Industrial RFID products for the machine tool industry for over 20 years. (See www.balluff.com/toolid for more information on Tool ID.)

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that at its foundation, this is of course a marketing ploy to differentiate. The idea is to try to help a user understand what and how to differentiate between the two with something as simple as a name. But as the lines continue to skew between what manufacturers make for which type of RFID and the customers they serve, the question I have to ask myself is: does using terms like industrial to describe their purpose really make any difference to a user? Or in the end is it all unnecessary and we should just use the term “RFID”? What level of education is really needed or desired by users?


2 Responses

  1. You raise an excellent point. Industrial RFID seems to address the fact that it is more rugged than, for example-UHF. In an industrial application there is lots of “other things” in the environment that can effect RFID. Namely, liquids, metal structures, noise and a myriad of “other unknowns” you won’t find in a department store. I think this is a great place to start? Perhaps your next topic could be what is the difference between Industrial RFID and other types of RFID systems.

  2. Does industrial RFID simply mean reusable and commercial mean disposable?

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