Choosing RFID For Industrial Applications; Part 5


In the first four parts of this blog series, I provided an introduction to the 3 most common frequencies/systems used in industrial RFID, detailing Low Frequency, High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency based systems. In this fifth and final post, I will provide some application guidance and criteria to consider when choosing your next Industrial RFID system.

RFID Tag Application Guide
It can be confusing what tag to use in a given application. Most RFID manufacturers, especially those that support multiple RFID frequencies, will provide recommendations for where to use each tag type. (See chart 1)

Chart 1, Application reference chart

Criteria For Choosing An RFID System
Choosing an RFID system can seem daunting. With each passing year, more options become available. The three options presented in this paper are the most commonly available today. Due to the nature of the infrastructure required to implement even a small RFID installation, choosing the wrong technology will have expensive and unreliable data collection consequences.

When selecting the correct technology, several factors should be considered. Each of the factors discussed in this paper should be weighed based on the relevance to your installation. The best recommendation is to not by looking at cost alone. After all, the most important part of an RFID system is its ability to move and store data reliably. Without reliable data, everything else is inconsequential.

The following is a list of recommended factors to think about before even considering a vendor. If these factors are difficult to determine, it is always recommended to seek out an integrator/advisor with RFID experience to help guide you through the factors involved.

RFID project considerations:
• Functionality
    o Read-only or Read/Write
• Data tracking or tracking and traceability
    o Mounting Surface Compatibility
• Metal, plastic, etc. and product contents – liquids or solids
    o Data Capacity
• Few or many characters (typically in bytes)
    o Survivability
• Temperature, environment (indoor, outdoor), vibration, shock
    o Bus Communication
• Ethernet, field buses, serial, etc, – networking connectivity
    o Support Software Requirements
• Middleware, database, PLC or controller software, security, etc.

Form Factor:
• Tag Mountability
    o Dimensions, mounting holes,
• Read/Write Head Mountability
    o Dimensions, mounting holes, connectivity

System Costs:
• Tag Costs
    o Throw away vs. re-usable – total number of tags
• Read/Write (Interrogator) Hardware
    o Read/write head and processor costs, mounting hardware
• Software Infrastructure
    o Server needs, control programming (PLC, Controllers, etc…), ERP – database support, etc…
• Engineering/Design
    o Site surveys (internal, external services)
• Maintenance Service
    o Tag replacement, software updates, modifications (long term)

In the world of RFID today, no one system type fits every application. Some systems will excel at performance in one area, but suffer in another area. It’s critical to learn and understand all of the demands you want to place on your installation. Be sure to work with each group affected by the performance of the RFID installation, from the maintenance person to the IT group. Once you understand what they need and based on your criteria for performance, you should be well armed to begin to determine which system is going to best solve the requirements of your application and set the stage for your success.

Over the course of this five post series, I hope to have provided some critical information to first time users of Industrial RFID. As with any technology, RFID will continue to evolve and provide even greater functionality for the cost. To see the entire series of post in whitepaper format, go here to download a free whitepaper from Balluff.

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


2 Responses

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