RFIDdirect is well aware of, and readily anticipates restrictions and limitations for all RFID technology applications. RFID publicity generally refers to UHF RFID technology, often ignoring Low Frequency and High Frequency (and NFC) RFID technology. Each has pros and cons which makes one suitable for some applications and less so for others. Always, you need to identify the product, environment, where it is in the process, reason for identifying, what happens (who & with) to this information.
RFID providing good quality data leading to quality information.
RFIDdirect uses data capture terminals, (own Cloud Based Software) and quality RFID products, but above all an understanding of manufacturing processes (25 years+ experience) to turn data gathered into meaningful business insights. This includes identifying inventory on the work-floor, flow of products in-process, productivity of man and machine. The systems RFIDdirect have developed provide reverse traceability all the way through to the original supplier, stoppages and production delays; projecting information in easy to understand reports and dashboards, informing the production management and customers alike. Creating solutions are all about improving efficiency and bringing the ‘smart-factor’ and ‘lean’ into manufacturing. For us at RFIDdirect, production logistics are clearly led by enabling Automatic Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) with a focus on RFID technology.
Essentially, the RFID tag serves as a key to unlock item information from a Data Base – providing accurate data leading to quality information.
Actual data benefits
Informed and efficient systems allow individual customer requirements to be met realistically and also mean that even one-off items can be manufactured profitably. Additionally, these more dynamic business and engineering processes enable last-minute changes to production and deliver the ability to respond flexibly to disruptions (and failures) on behalf of suppliers. For example, end-to-end transparency is provided over the manufacturing process, facilitating optimised, speedy decision-making and order information for the customer. This is what is described as Industry 4.0 or Internet-of-Things – a way of digitally connecting devices, objects and people.
So that’s the commercial bit out of the way. Now the reality!
Influences on the read-range and accuracy of RFID transponders in a production environment include: humidity, liquids, metals and people movement – although they can be offset or adjusted. For example, deploying special measures in the reading location and using shielding in the tag packaging. Logistical chain issues can also affect the reliability of accurate data management – as several partners share the data. The truth is also that using UHF RFID in certain environments requires a genuine proof of concept. RFID technology alone cannot always provide a total solution – often a collaborative approach using other technologies such as barcode (RFID is not either a straightforward alternative for barcode!) can provide the best possible result. RFIDdirect will always share best practice results with any potential client as worthwhile learning experiences benefit all.
As RFIDdirect’s MD Frits van Calker often alludes to, when explaining RFID technology, “A carpenter has dozens of metal screw-types available – there is no single type that fits every diverse carpentry job – he has to view the job first. The same can be said of RFID tags – therefore, a ‘tag-first’ approach is never advisable.”
Realistically good results
First things first; to optimise the adoption of RFID technology in any process, scoping out applications and product flow is essential to begin; this is the start of developing a realistic business case. In most circumstances, it is most important to identify the product/asset, where in the process are key points, what reason for identification, what is happening with this information, and by whom.
RFIDdirect always suggests to customers that building a specific system, tested systematically with full supervision of the installation is, more often than not, the only realistic way to meet expectations and deliver quality RFID technology.