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Radio Frequency Identification


RFID in Access/Parking: The primary requirement in most gated communities today is security. Yet, more often that not, this security simply comprises of a security guard at the entrance who asks some very rudimentary questions, if at all. It is easy for an outsider to enter the community without being questioned or stopped at the gate. On top of this, many legitimate residents are often held up before they are allowed to enter their own community, simply because the security guard doesn't recognise them.

The answer to this problem is an automated system that eliminates human errors and delays. The most viable and efficient automated system is one based on Radio Frequency technology (RFID). It involves fixing a tiny radio tag onto the windscreen of cars belonging to the community. As they approach the gate of the community, an antenna senses the tag and automatically opens the gate to let them in. Thus, the guard never needs to stop legitimate residents of the community. However, when a non resident car approaches the community, the gate will not slide open, and the guard will be able to ascertain whether they have a legitimate reason for entering the community, or whether they should be denied access.

This technology allows for a streamlined, simple and efficient access solution to gated communities. However, it also allows for a solution within gated communities or corporate campuses / buildings, with respect to parking. RFID provides an access control solution for parking towers and it tracks and tabulates how many cars are parked on each floor. This lets it calculate how many free spaces there are and where those spaces are located, to provide the information to people entering the parking tower. This eliminates the process of having to find a parking spot - the minute the person enters the parking lot/tower, he knows exactly where he will have an open spot.

RFID also provides a visitor access control solution for corporations. If a visitor is expected, the security guard already has a pre-created RFID tag visitor card. Once the visitor arrives, the card is handed over after due identification. The visitor card is detected and the host in the company simultaneously receives a notification that the visitor has passed the gate. This gives him/her adequate time to prepare for the meeting and greet the visitor as required. The visitor card also gives the visitor access to the building where his meeting is, for a limited period of time. This eliminates dual security checks, makes for a more pleasant visitor experience, and creates a more efficient visitor management process.

RFID in Library: Libraries all over the world are moving away from the traditional model of using barcodes to scan and check out books. While this method has been around since the advent of barcodes almost 40 years ago, rapidly evolving technology has meant that more efficient, streamlined library management solutions have been developed. The most recent technology, one that many of the largest libraries in the world have already switched over to, is Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID).

This involves affixing a tiny RFID tag onto each book, which allows it to be read by readers stationed across the library. The advantage of this technology over barcodes is that RFID technology does not require a direct line of sight. Thus, multiple books can be detected and checked out simultaneously, instead of having to scan every individual book. In addition, patrons can check their books out themselves, instead of relying on a librarian. This gives the librarian more time to help out other library members, and it lets patrons check their books out faster.

RFID also acts as a security guard on the premises, alerting the guards if a book leaves the library without being checked out. Thus, one single technology, RFID, can replace the existing bar code technology for checkout, as well as the EM technology for theft detection.

RFID also helps in re-shelving, since wrongly shelved books can be instantly identified without needing a line of sight read. Patrons searching for books can also find books much faster using a handheld RFID scanner, instead of having to manually look through the shelves.

Finally, RFID also lets patrons return a book anytime they want. This is because the RFID chip in the book can be identified by the reader in the book drop box, and the returned book can be recorded. A librarian does not need to be physically present to collect the returned book, and so the library effectively stays open 24/7.

Given the many advantages that RFID has over traditional technology that is used in libraries today, many large libraries all over the world such as the Seattle Public Library in America and the Shenzhen Library in China have already switched over to RFID.

RFID in retail: The secret to successful retailing is to have the right goods available in the right quantities at the right places for the right price. RFID has the ability to make this entire process hassle-free, while at the same time reducing costs, enhancing store productivity, improving customer satisfaction and increasing revenue.

Since RFID tags are capable of far greater product information than barcodes and have item-level capability, RFID tracking systems allow retailers to manage the entire supply chain by automating and instantly providing information for out-of-stock, excess and obsolete inventory, shrinkage and diversion. By also acting as a security guard within the premises as well as entry/exit points across the supply chain, inventory flow is monitored and accounting discrepancies are removed. Consequently there is quicker loading/unloading, minimization of manual checks, reduction of handling costs and wastage, easier authentication, accurate recording, efficient data management, improved asset utilization, increase in distribution centre productivity and better supplier collaboration, resulting in cost reduction, overall business process improvement and competitive advantage.

Instant location of items, intelligent shopping guide kiosks, automatic billing and streamlined self-checkout result in improved customer service and a better shopping experience. RFID technology also allows retailers to provide value-added services such as dynamic pricing, context awareness, point-of-purchase display and hotspots, besides enabling targeted marketing to selected customers and VIP care. This makes personalized and even anticipatory service possible in large retail outlets as well, thereby furthering customer loyalty.

 

RFID in Logistics/ Asset &File Management: efficient logistics is a pre-requisite for successful commerce. Commercial transactions cannot take place unless goods are transported from source to destination in a timely, safe and economical manner. In a global marketplace, there is worldwide movement of goods - raw materials, components, equipment, semi-finished and finished products. Delays and errors can have severe consequences which get further magnified downstream along the supply chain. Consequently there is a huge demand for quick and efficient logistics and asset tracking. Logistics providers therefore consider RFID to be imperative for the survival and growth of their business. In order to meet customer needs for shipment accuracy and real-time tracking of chain-of-custody data, transportation companies are under increasing pressure to provide greater visibility into package location and movement. RFID complements GPS in tracking and tracing information on assets throughout the course of their transit, resulting in streamlined operations, improved security, loss and theft reduction, reduced insurance risk, quicker transit, sales force automation, cost reduction, proactive information exchange over the internet and increased customer satisfaction. RFID is the key component of a sound warehouse management system. RFID tagging offers guaranteed visibility of product flow across warehouses and distribution centres. RFID real-time locating systems (RTLS) facilitate efficient yard management through increase in productivity while saving labour and fuel costs. There is similarly increased efficiency in container management. RFID enables vehicle mapping and event tracking with extensive journey and halt reporting. Shipment delays and errors are minimized, proper loading sequence is maintained and speedier order staging is ensured through the implementation of RFID solutions. RFID also enables the adoption of just-in-sequence tracking which increases agility, allows prompt and accurate line replenishment, reduces sequencing errors and recall, increases speed to market and effects savings in costs.

By enabling track and trace along the entire value chain, RFID has ushered in a logistics revolution. Across the complete range of transportation - trucking, shipping and aviation, there is increasingly no alternative to the adoption of RFID. It has reshaped and energized the industry, helping traditional service operators to easily move up the value chain and become complete logistics providers in full control of the entire distribution process.

RFID in Manufacturing: Manufacturing operations in today’s globally competitive environment need to be extremely efficient in terms of quality, cost, time and flexibility in order to survive and prosper. The ability to derive maximum production and operational efficiency to respond quickly to customer needs and competitive challenges requires real-time information on inventory, equipment and workflow in industrial applications. Productivity is often slowed down due to lack of visibility as to the status and location of inventory, equipment and people, resulting in delays, increased cost and ultimately loss of business. RFID helps meet these challenges in industries across the manufacturing sector.

RFID solutions promote cost management and operational efficiency through asset tracking by automatically detecting movement of components and equipment throughout the manufacturing process, resulting in efficient information management and timely decision making. Implementing RFID on the plant floor and synchronizing it with an RFID-enabled supply chain enables just-in-time production through efficient inventory management, shrinkage reduction and reduced stock levels. It helps minimize production down-time and optimize production scheduling, resulting in a reduced time cycle and increased throughput. It also improves load balancing and enhances coordination across multiple product lines and locations.

RFID optimizes work-in-progress through real-time component and production line tracking, identifies and reduces bottlenecks, manages allocation and streamlines equipment dispatch, enabling process efficiency and the adoption of lean manufacturing practices. Asset management is enhanced through the indication of usability status of reusable assets and automated maintenance scheduling. RFID increases labour productivity by minimizing the need for human intervention in product movement, thus enabling the redistribution of labour to more value-added tasks. It helps ensure personnel safety in hazardous environments by ensuring visibility of employee whereabouts. Sensor-based RFID also provides alerts to changes in critical conditions.

RFID promotes quality control and compliance by ensuring the use of correct components, monitoring exact matching in materials and equipment, minimizing errors and automating reports. It also helps the sorting and packaging process become more accurate. Genealogy tracking for retrace in product recall is efficiently achieved through RFID. Real-time tracking of data from upstream and downstream partners also enables indexing and integration of information that benefits all parties - suppliers, manufacturers and distributors.

RFID is a flexible and versatile solution that can be deployed in batch, process and discrete manufacturing across a variety of applications and operational environments. It is a cost- effective and efficient technology that automates and improves processes while integrating with, updating and optimizing existing manufacturing operational and information systems. RFID today presents a vast opportunity for value creation and competitive advantage in the manufacturing sector. It will soon become an indispensable part of the plant floor and the
Modern manufacturing environment.

 

RFID in Livestock: One of the earliest applications of RFID has been in animal tracking. Since livestock assets are constantly on the move, traditional methods of identification and data collection have proven quite inefficient, especially in the case of large herds. RFID overcomes the shortcomings of manual tracking by being fast and accurate without requiring a visual or line of sight reading. Since radio signals harmlessly penetrate body tissue and most other materials, RFID tags can be safely attached or even implanted inside livestock and will last for the entire lifetime of the animal.

RFID therefore enables the recording and tracking of individual animals over their entire lifecycle, even in a herd of thousands. Since each RFID tag is unique, a livestock database that keeps track of the animal’s origin, parentage and breed can be easily created. Continued tagging over generations of livestock creates a genetic history that helps establish lineage, maintain quality of stock and improve breeds. Each database can be integrated into a regional or national animal ID system that records nationwide animal location, ownership and trade, creating a ready reference for farm owners, breeders and health officials.

In a scenario where there is nationwide and cross-border trade in livestock and food products, accurate tracking and record keeping is of utmost importance, especially since livestock diseases can quickly infect large areas, wipe out whole herds and spread globally. RFID usage helps monitor health of the herd, keep individual medication and vaccination records, and prevent the spread of disease by tracking and segregating infected livestock at early stages, leading to successful isolation and treatment that saves the rest of the herd.

Livestock tagging using RFID allows the storage of information on each animal pertaining to breeding data, feeding data and yield data. Milking and egglaying records are easily maintained, enabling categorization, individual corrective action or group improvement. RFID helps improve farm management through increased efficiencies, reduced feed and labour costs, enhanced output and improved herd health.

RFID tagging provides cross-referencing with packaging of end products such as milk, eggs and meat. An RFID based national ID system can track the source of end products, which can now be easily identified, traced and recalled if required.

Already being widely used in the livestock industry, RFID is proving its worth, with more uses than previously realized as it becomes deployed across the entire food chain. As the world grapples with the threat from disease to a global supply chain, more and more retailers are mandating the use of RFID on incoming food stocks, along with increasing legislation calling for RFID tagging on livestock. With a variety of proven benefits accruing from the use of RFID, it is only a matter of time before RFID tagging in livestock becomes a regular part of modern farm management.

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