Choosing RFID For Industrial Applications; Part 1


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Often times those of us in the RFID industry are so close to it that we forget that there are those just being introduced to it and want to just learn about the basics. And I am then reminded that it is our responsibility to help educate people not just on the high level conceptual use, but also continue to touch upon the technology itself. So I will dedicate the next blog posts to a 5 part series explaining the basics about RFID and just as important, what you should think about when considering RFID and discussing where the technology can be used. In this first post, I will introduced the most common frequency based technology used for industrial based RFID as well as begin to define the difference between them.

Choosing the proper Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for use in industrial applications like machine tool, palletized assembly, or production tracking can be a confusing task these days. With all the information floating around about HF (High Frequency), UHF (Ultra High Frequency), microwave and GPS/RTLS based products, and whether to use active or passive based tags, it may seem like these systems can be used almost anywhere. However, failures because of a wrong or unreliable system can be very costly – some times in hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Today, RFID is designed for many environments besides industrial, which can make it confusing as to what systems work the best.

Most RFID systems utilize the same basic hardware. This consists primarily of a read/write head (also known as an interrogator), coupled with a tag (also known as a data carrier) that is used to remotely carry data of some type. There is usually a processor used to convert the data from the tag to a common interface or bus in order to control processes and/or move data to or from databases. Depending on the system design, the processor may be remote from the head, allowing greater flexibility and smaller size, or it may be combined with the read/write head.

This blog series explores what the best possible options are based on standard products available today, and how they are applied to get reliable data for the highest chance of success the first time. It will also explain the basic principles of operation and how they will influence the performance of each type of system. These three most widely available industrial RFID systems will be discussed:

Each of these frequency ranges provide advantages or disadvantages based on their characteristics, principles of operation, and application usage. The information presented in this blog should assist you in selecting the right RFID system for your application.

In the next blog post of this series, I will begin to define in more detail each of the three frequency/system types discussed above starting with LF or Low Frequency.

Click here to learn more about Balluff industrial RFID.
Click hereto read a whitepaper on “Choosing RFID For Industrial Applications”.

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