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What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is used by reading an identifier that transmitted via a radio signal. The first use of RFID was in World War II when allied forces developed the technology to tell apart allied planes from enemy planes on the newly developed RADAR systems.  RFID has the potential to be used in many everyday products, currently it is being widely implemented in warehousing, logistics, inventory control and point of sale aspects of business. Going forward RFID will help power the "Internet of Things" (IoT), a way that devices can interface with us and each other.

What is an Inlay?

An inlay, also generically referred to as a "Tag", is composed of three main components, the Substrate, the Antenna, and the IC Chip. The Substrate can be made of various non-conductive materials but is usually either a PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) or a paper based material. The antenna is propagates the radio signal and is typically made from copper, aluminium or an alloy. The antenna material can be etched, stamped or screen printed. Although screen printed antennas are cheaper and faster to make, they are currently not as reliable as etched or stamped antennas. The IC (Integrated Circuit) chip is where all of the electronics are located to communication with the RFID system. This includes the circuitry required to store the data and the electronics required to receive and transmit the radio signal.

What is an EPC?

EPC stands for Electronic Product Code and the standard was developed by the GS1 to work in conjunction with UPC (Universal Product Code) with the use of RFID tagging of products in the retail supply chain. Click Here to see the latest guidelines for EPC usage

Which is better Barcodes or RFID?

Both technologies have their pros and cons but a big drawback to barcodes is that you need line of site to "see" a bar code with a scanner in order to scan the data contained within that bar code. Because RFID works over radio waves it doesn't need direct line of sight to read the data contained in the inlay chip. So long as the radio signals can reach the antenna on the inlay with enough strength to power a response the inlay itself can be inside a box, around a corner or high on a shelf. 

What do I need to implement RFID in my business?

First you need to decide how you want to use RFID. If you want to improve logistics and distribution then you probably can use package level RFID where you put RFID labels on your boxes and or palettes to keep track of their movements.  If you want to use it for Inventory or Point of Sale control then you probably need Item Level RFID tagging. Where each Item/ unit is labeled with RFID and can be tracked in the warehouse, the sales floor or the Point of Sale register.

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