RFID Technology

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Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is a fast-growing segment of two booming industries--information technology (IT) and automatic identification and data capture (AIDC). RFID technology is receiving greater visibility lately because the Department of Defense in the United States and large retailer outlets have mandates to integrate EPC RFID systems into the supply chains of their organizations.

Although compliance programs and high-profile initiatives attract much attention, the biggest challenge for new users of RFID is the extraction of value from the implementation. According to experts, the integration of RFID with improved data synchronization could slash 2 to 4 billion dollars from costs in the retail and consumer packaged goods industries. The key to turning a profit is the creation of new business procedures that take advantage of the unique capabilities of RFID.

RFID technology now reaches into processes such as patron and patient tracking, asset management, pharmaceutical security, cargo logistics, manufacturing control, and materials management, to name only a few.

For most organizations, smart labels are the easiest way to integrate RFID technology into existing processes. Consisting of a tag that is embedded in a labeling material, the smart label is printed with barcodes, graphics, and readable text, which confirms and supplements the digital information printed in the tag.

What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?

The simplest RFID system comprises three components:

  • An antenna or coil
  • A transceiver and decoder
  • An RF tag (transponder) programmed electronically with select information

The antenna radiates radio signals that activate the tag in order to receive data from it or send date to it (read/write). Functioning between the transceiver and the tag, the antenna controls the system's data communication and acquisition. Antennas are manufactured in many shapes and sizes to perform a variety of functions. For example, they might be hidden in a door frame to read data as people or goods pass through, or installed on a toll booth in order to monitor passing traffic. The antenna’s electromagnetic field can be on constantly when many tags are expected without interruption. If constant contact isn’t needed, a sensor can activate the tag.

The antenna, often purchased with the decoder and transceiver, is known as a reader (also called an interrogator), and can be set up as either a fixed-mount or a hand-held device. Depending on its radio frequency and power output, the reader’s radio waves extend from 1 inch to more than 100 feet. As an tag enters the reader’s electromagnetic zone, the tag detects the reader’s activation signal, decodes the data embedded its integrated circuit, and passes the data for processing to the designated computer.

RFID tags are made in all sizes and shapes to suit many functions. Tags to track animals, usually inserted under the skin, are as thin as pencil lead and one-half inch long. Screw-shaped tags are screwed into wooden items or trees. For access applications, tags are shaped like credit cards. The hard plastic anti-theft tags on store merchandise are RFID tags. And RFID tags are found in heavy-duty 5x4x2-inch rectangular transponders to track trucks, heavy machinery, intermodal containers, and railroad cars.

RFID tags can be either passive or active. Active RFID tags have an internal battery and usually are read/write, i.e., their data can be modified and/or rewritten. The memory size of an active tag varies with the requirements of the application; some systems require up to 1 MB of memory. In the average read/write work-in-process system, an RFID tag might issue instructions to a machine, which would return a performance report to the tag. The returned data would be added to the history of the tagged part. When an active tag is battery-powered it generally has a longer read range. However, the tag must be larger, costs more, and has a maximum operational life of 10 years, considering battery type and operating temperatures.

Passive RFID tags have no external power source and operate on reader-generated power. They are much lighter than active tags, cost less, and operate virtually for a lifetime. On the down side, their read ranges are shorter and a higher-powered reader is required. Tags that read only are usually passive and programmed with around 32 to 128 bits of unique data that can’t be rewritten. Read-only tags most often operate as does a license plate into a database, just as linear barcodes refer to a modifiable database of product-specific information.

RFID systems are also categorized by frequency ranges. Low-frequency systems (30-500 KHz) have shorter reading ranges and reduced system costs. They are usually used in animal identification, asset tracking, and security access applications. High-frequency systems (850-950 MHz and 2.4-2.5 GHz), offer longer read ranges (more than 90 feet) and high-speed reading. They are often used for applications like automated toll collection and railroad car tracking. However, the better-performing high-frequency systems incur higher system costs.

The non-line-of-sight, no-contact nature of RFID technology is its greatest advantage, no matter what type of system. Tags are readable in spite of encrusted grime, paint, ice, fog, snow, and other challenging visual and environmental conditions, where barcodes and other optically read technologies cannot perform. In addition, RFID tags can be read at amazing speeds in challenging conditions, usually under 100 milliseconds. In an active RFID system, its read/write capabilities afford significant advantages in such interactive applications as maintenance tracking or work in process. Although RFID is a more costly technology when compared with barcode technology, RFID is now indispensable for a great variety of applications that have revolutionized automated data collection and identification.

RFID technology developments are yielding ever faster processing, longer reading ranges, and greater memory capacity. Although barcode is not likely to be entirely supplanted by RFID, in spite of barcode’s economies of scale and the need for less raw material, a RF tag’s integrated circuit will always be costlier than a barcode label. Where optical technologies and barcode labels are no longer effective, RFID use will continue to expand. Exponential growth is highly likely if common standards can be established so that the RFID equipment from one manufacturer can be used interchangeably with that from another.

Radio Frequency Identification

Any RFID system is intended to transport data in suitable tags (transponders) and to receive machine-readable data whenever or wherever the particular application requires. Data embedded in a tag might contain identification for a part during manufacture, the identity of a vehicle, a location, goods in transit, or an individual or animal. By adding more data, it is possible to support applications using information specific to an item or to make instructions immediately available when the tag is read: e.g., the paint colour for a car body as it enters the paint-spraying area of the production line, the set-up instructions for a flexible manufacturing cell, or the invoice to pack with a shipment.

Besides tags, a system requires some facility to read (or interrogate) the tags and communicate the data to an information management system or host computer. A system also requires a means of programming or entering data into the tags, unless this is done at the time of manufacturing. An antenna is quite often considered separate from the RFID system. Although it is important, it should be thought of as an element in both tags and readers, because it must enable communications between the two.

To appreciate and understand the capabilities of an RFID system, each constituent part must be considered. The requirements for data flow influence the choice of system, as do the down-to-earth problems of communicating through the air. When both the components and their functions in the chain of data flow are considered, it is obvious what issues are most important in selecting the best RFID application. However, it helps to begin by considering briefly how wireless communication is achieved, because the techniques are important in deciding a master plan for the system components.

Carrier Frequencies

In wired systems, the constraints of physical wiring effectively isolate networks and communication links from each other. However, channels for RF communications are generally allotted by frequency.

An RF system requires--usually established by government law--that each segment of the electromagnetic spectrum is assigned to a different purpose. These allocations might differ by governments, so it requires care to select RFID applications appropriate for other countries. To eliminate these problems, efforts to standardise requirements are underway.

The frequency ranges typical for these RFID systems are low, intermediate (medium) and high. Table 1 below sums up these three ranges, their typical characteristics, and examples of the major applications.

Frequency Band Characteristics Typical Applications
100-500kHz (Low)
  • Read range is short to medium
  • Not expensive
  • Reading speed is low
  • Animal identification
  • Access control
  • Car immobiliser
  • Inventory control
10-15MHz (Intermediate)
  • Potentially inexpensive
  • Short to medium read range
  • Medium reading speed
  • Access control
  • Smart cards
850-950MHz 2.4-5.8GHz (High)
  • High reading speed
  • Long read range
  • Expensive
  • Line of sight required
  • Collecting Tolls
  • Railroad car monitoring

More uniform frequency usage for carriers is sought in three regulation areas: Region 1 (Europe and Africa), Region 2 (North and South America) and Region 3 (Far East and Australasia). Each country must allocate its frequencies according to the regional guidelines. Unfortunately, over time the allotment of frequencies has been very inconsistent, and few frequencies are globally available for RFID technology. This situation will undoubtedly change, because countries are under a mandate agree to some uniform standards by 2010.

The frequencies 125 kHz, 13.56 MHz and 2.45 GHz are often considered to be representative of the three carrier frequency ranges, but there are eight RFID frequency bands that are used worldwide. The applications that use these bands can be found in Table 2.

Only some countries can access all frequency bandwidths shown in Table 1, because several countries allocate some of the RFID bands to non-RFID users. Regulations governing frequency usage, possibly including power levels, frequency tolerances, and interference, are specific within each frequency range and each country.

Frequency range Application comments
Less than 135kHz Many applications, including tracking, traceability, access control, and animal tagging. No licenses required for transponder systems in most countries.
1.95MHz, 3.25MHz, 4.75MHz, and 8.2MHz Retail store electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems.
Approx. 13MHz, 13.56MHz Industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) and EAS systems.
Approx. 27MHz ISM
430-460MHz ISM specific to Region 1.
902-916MHz ISM specific to Region 2. Well-organized in US with many applications types and priority levels, including rail and toll road solutions. Band is divided into narrow and spread spectrum sources. Region 1 uses same frequencies as GSM telephone network.
918-926MHz RFID for Australian transmitters having EIRP under 1 watt.
2350-2450MHz ISM band recognized almost worldwide. IEEE 802.11 accepts band for RF communications, both narrow band and spread spectrum.
5400-6800MHz Reserved for future uses, such as a 75 MHz allocation in the 5.85-5.925 GHz band for the use of intelligent transportation services requested of the FCC and a TIS system, proposed in France for vehicle communications to the roadside by way of 5.8 GHz microwave beacons.

Data transfer rate and bandwidth

The most important determinants for data transfer rates are the choice of the field or the frequency of the carrier wave. In other words, the data transfer rate is primarily influenced by the carrier wave frequency or the varying field that is employed to transport data between tag and reader. Generally, higher frequencies achieve higher throughput or data transfer rates, a fact that is very closely linked to available range or bandwidth within the spectrum selected for communications. Channel bandwidth should be no less than two times the bit rate needed for the intended application. In narrow band assignments, data rate limitations are a very important consideration. In situations involving wide bandwidths, it is less an issue. For example, the spread spectrum 2.4 - 2.5 GHz band might achieve 2 megabits/second, with spread spectrum modulation providing additional noise immunity.

Apart from spread spectrum, an increase in bandwidth permits an increased noise level along with reduced ratio of signal to noise. Because a signal must be above the noise floor for the desired application, bandwidth must be carefully considered.

Range and Power Levels

The achievable range for RFID applications is determined by the following:

  • The available power of the reader or interrogator for reading the tag(s)
  • The available power in the tag so it can respond
  • The structures and conditions in the working environment, especially important at the higher frequencies

Although the available power level primarily determines range, the method and efficiency of the power deployment also influence range. When an antenna delivers a wave or a field, it reaches into the surrounding space, diminishing in strength the farther it travels. The design of the antenna determines the shape of the propagation wave or field that is delivered, so range is also affected by the subtended angle between the antenna and the tag.

When space is free of absorption mechanisms and obstructions, field strength is reduced inversely in proportion to the distance squared. When a wave is propagating through reflections from the ground and other obstacles, the loss of strength varies considerably, occasionally as the inverse fourth power of the distance. When different paths are caused this way, it is called “multi-path attenuation.” Absorption of moisture further influences range at higher frequencies. In most applications, it is very important to determine the extent to which external or internal environment will influence the communications range. If several metal objects in the space are likely to reflect signals at one time or another, an evaluation of the environment is prudent to anticipate problems.

Generally, the power in the tag is speaking much less than the reader’s power, so the reader must have more sensitive detection capabilities to capture the returned signals. The reader in many systems is the receiver and it is separated from the transmitter or interrogator, especially if the uplink carrier from the transmitter to the tag is different from the downlink carrier from the tag to the reader.

A specific power level can be selected to suit the needs of different applications, but not all selections are possible. Just as restrictions exist for carrier frequencies, legislative restrictions exist for power levels. Values of 100-500 mW are often given as the range for RFID applications, but the actual values must be checked by the governing regulatory agencies within the countries in which the technology will be installed. The authorities can also specify whether the power should be continuous or pulsed and the related values allowed for each type of delivery. Now, having some knowledge of the parameters of data communication and its related values, you should consider the components of RFID systems in more detail.

Transponders/Tags

“Transponder” derives from TRANSmitter/resPONDER and describes the device’s dual function. When a tag reacts to a communicated or transmitted request for data embedded in its chip, it communicates wirelessly across the air space between itself and the reader. Although the words “interrogator” and “reader” are often used interchangeably, the interrogator often comprises a reader with an interface and a decoder. The basic transponder components are described in the following sections. Transponders are essentially low-powered integrated circuits appropriate for transferring data, generating power (passive mode), using "coil-on-chip" technology, or interfacing with external coils.

Basic features of an RFID transponder

Depending upon the sophistication and type of the transponder, its memory might comprise either random access (RAM), read-only (ROM), or non-volatile programmable memory to store data. ROM memory accommodates security data and instructions for the transponder’s operating system which, together with the processing logic or processor, handles such internal functions as power supply switching, data flow control, as well as the timing of the response delay. RAM memory facilitates the storage of temporary data when the transponder interrogates and responds.

Programmable memory is not volatile and can take a variety of forms, the most typical being electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). Because it stores the transponder data, it must be non-volatile so that data is not lost when inactive or in a power-saving state.

Other elements of memory are data buffers. They temporarily store the incoming data after demodulation and the outgoing data during modulation, and they interface with the antenna of the transponder. The circuitry of the interface enables and instructs the energy of the interrogation field to power passive transponders and to trigger a response from the transponder. When programming must be accommodated, capabilities for accepting data-modulated signals and performing the needed processes for data transfer and demodulation must be provided.

The antenna of the transponder responds to the interrogating, and the programming fields if appropriate, and also transmits the response of the transponder to interrogation. Several features, as well as carrier frequency, distinguish RFID transponders and are the basics of RFID device specifications:

  • Power source
  • Physical form
  • Programming options
  • Data read rates
  • Data carrying options
  • Costs

Powering tags

Tags require power, although the required levels are always only microwatts to milliwatts. They are active or passive, determined strictly by the source of the power. Active tags use internal battery power and are found most often in read/write devices. Generally they use a cell with a high ratio of power to weight and operate in a -50°C to +70°C temperature range. Because batteries have finite lifetimes, so does a sealed active transponder. However, when the appropriate cell is used with the right low-power circuitry, it can function for ten years or more, depending on usage, read/write cycles, and operating temperatures. Active transponders can communicate over greater range than passive devices. They are more immune to noise and possess higher rates of data transmissionwhen they are employed to power a response at higher frequencies. The trade-offs are that active tags are larger and more costly than passive tags.

Passive tags have no internal battery, deriving their operating power from the field which the reader has generated. They offer an almost unlimited operating life and are less expensive and much lighter than active tags. However, their read ranges are shorter than those of active tags so a more powerful reader is required. In addition, passive tags have restricted data storage capacity and perform less well in environments that are electromagnetically noisy. Orientation and sensitivity performance might also be limited by the available power. In spite of these limitations, the lower cost and almost infinite longevity of passive transponders are significant advantages.

Data carrying options

Invariably, data that is stored in tags will require some additions and organization, such as error detection bits and data identifiers, to fill recovery needs, a process often called source encoding. The UCC/EAN standard numbering system and similar elements for defining data also can be added to the data in tags. Of course, the quantity of data depends on the particular application and requires a tag that is appropriate for that need. Tags can carry both identifiers and portable data files:

  • Identifiers store alphanumeric or numeric strings for identification uses or they perform as access keys to other data stored in a computer or in a system for information management.
  • Portable data files organise information to be communicated or initiate actions separate from or combined with data that is stored elsewhere.

The data capacity of tags might be as small as a single bit or as many as kilobits. Single-bit devices are generally used for electronic article surveillance (EAS) in retail operations, where they trigger an alarm if a tag enters the field of an interrogator. Single-bit devices also perform counting applications well.

Devices with storage capacities as large as 128 bits can hold an ID or serial number, as well as, possibly, parity check bits. These devices can be programmed by either the user or the manufacturer. Tags with capacities to store up to 512 bits of data are always user programmed. They are best used for identification and such specific data as critical process instructions, package content, serial numbers, or possibly the results of prior read/write transactions.

Tags that store about 64 kilobits of data may be used to carry portable data files. Having a larger capacity, they can organise data into pages or fields that can be selected individually for interrogation when the tag is read.

Data read rate

The rate of data transfer is directly linked to carrier frequency. Generally, higher frequencies mean higher rates of transfer. Note also that transferring or reading the data requires a defined amount of time, even if just milliseconds, and that must be considered in systems which pass the tag very quickly through a read or interrogation zone.

Data programming options

Based on the kind of memory contained within a tag, embedded data may be read/write, read-only, or write once/read many (WORM). Read/write devices, programmable by users, allow stored data in a tag to be changed. Read-only tags, usually bearing an identification number, have low capacities and are already programmed by the manufacturer. WORM devices can also be programmed by the user. Portable programmers permit programming in the field while the tag is attached to the item being accompanied or identified.

Physical Form

RFID tags are available in a wide selection of physical formats, sizes, shapes, and protective housings. For example, tracking tags for animals, slipped under the skin, are as thin as pencil lead and only ten millimetres long. Screw-shaped tags can be screwed into trees or other wooden products or shaped like credit cards for access applications. The plastic anti-theft tags hanging on retail merchandise are another type of RFID tag. Inter-modal containers, trucks, railroad cars, and other heavy machinery are equipped with rugged 120x100x50 millimetre rectangular transponders for tracking and maintenance applications.

Costs

Tag costs are dependent upon the quantities and types needed. For quantities of tens of thousands, the cost ranges from under one dollar for very simple tags to ten to thirty dollars for more sophisticated, larger devices. Obviously, the more complex circuit functions, memory capacities and construction of sophisticated tags affect the price of both reader/programmers and transponders.

Also bearing on costs is the packaging of the transponder to form a unit. In harsh environments, such as paint bays in body shops, mines, and steel mills, packaging must be mechanically robust to tolerate temperatures and chemicals. Such robust packaging adds significantly to the total cost of the transponder.

Low frequency devices are generally cost less than high frequency transponders, and passive are often less costly than active transponders.

The Reader/Interrogator

Reader/interrogators greatly differ in complexity, according to the kind of tag needing support and the function to be performed,, but basically the reader/interrogator communicates with tags and facilitates transfer of data. The reader’s functions include correction, parity error checking, along with very complex signal conditioning.

After the transponder signal has been read and decoded correctly, algorithms can determine if the signal is a repeated transmission. If so, it will tell the transponder to stop transmitting using the Command Response Protocol, which prevents the problems caused by reading many tags in a very short time. This use of the interrogator is sometimes called “hands down polling.” A more secure although slower alternative for tag polling is “hands up polling.” In this method, known as contention management, the interrogator looks for specific tag identities and interrogates them one after another. A number of new techniques can now improve the batch reading process. Another approach might employ multiple readers, all multiplexed into a single interrogator, with a resulting cost increase.

Transponder Programmer

RF Transponder programmers deliver data to read/write tags and WORM (write once/read many) tags. The programming is usually performed off-line, for example before a batched production run.

In some systems, the re-programming can be done on-line, especially if the tag will function as an interactive portable data file in the production process. Data might be required for each part of the process. If the transponder had to be removed to check data after each part of the process was completed, the increased processing time would detract significantly from the desired flexibility in the system. However, if functions of a programmer and a reader/interrogator are combined, data can be altered or appended within the transponder without slowing production.

The read range is usually greater than the programming range, sometimes requiring direct contact. Programmers usually can handle only one tag at a time, but newly developed technologies can perform programming of multiple selected tags within the programming device’s range.

RFID System Categories

The four categories of RFID systems:

  • EAS (electronic article surveillance)
  • Portable data capture
  • Networked
  • Positioning

Typically, a one-bit electronic article surveillance system is used to determine whether an item is present or absent. The largest users of this technology are retail stores which tag each item and sense the unauthorised removal of an item with antenna readers located at each door.

Portable systems for data capture use portable data terminals along with constituent RFID readers. They are used in systems which may exhibit a great deal of variety in the sourcing of specific data in the tagged items. The hand-held readers and the portable data terminals read data and either transmit it by way of a radio frequency data communication (RFDC) link directly to the host information management system or hold it so it can be batch processed and delivered to the host by line-linkage.

Applications for networked systems are generally characterised by readers deployed in fixed positions in a site and directly connected to an information management network. Depending upon the application, the transponders are positioned on people or moveable or moving items.

To enable automated navigation and location programs for guided vehicles, transponders are used in positioning systems. Readers are mounted on vehicles and then linked to the information management facility in the host computer by an RFDC link and on-board computer. Transponders within the floor of the production area are then programmed with the appropriate location and identification data. To be closer to the embedded transponders, reader antennas usually are mounted under the vehicles.

Areas of Application for RFID

Virtually every type of commerce, industry, or service which collects data can identify potential applications for RFID. RFID technology is compatible with other data capture technologies and can therefore satisfy specific application requirements not adequately accommodated by other data collection technologies. The principal areas which are currently identified for RFID applications include the following:

  • Logistics and transportation
  • Processing and manufacturing
  • Security

Many miscellaneous work areas are also good fits for RFID technology, some already growing in the number of applications:

  • Road toll management
  • Airline baggage reconciliation
  • Postal tracking
  • Time and attendance
  • Waste management
  • Animal tagging

Significant growth in new applications is expected as standards are established, technology continues to develop, and costs come down. Some of the leading specific applications include the following:

  • Electronic surveillance of clothing in retail outlets.
  • Prevention of theft, unauthorized movement, and mismanagement of valuable assets.
  • Controlling access to fuel facilities, parking areas, and vehicles in such places as depots.
  • Automated collection of tolls at roads and bridges, such as the electronic road-pricing (ERP) systems in Hong Kong.
  • Controlling personnel access to hazardous or secure locations.
  • Replacement of conventional “slot card” systems for time and attendance keeping.
  • Identification of animals to individualise their feeding programmes.
  • Automatic machine tool identification for monitoring tool condition, usage, and wear to reduce waste.
  • Identification of process control and product variants in flexible manufacturing systems.
  • Recording of sport time.
  • Electronic home monitoring of suspected offenders.
  • Anti-theft and immobiliser systems for cars.

Many factors determine the appropriate RFID solution for a specific application. First, application requirements must be determined carefully and then weighed against the benefits offered by RFID and the other technologies for data collection. If RFID is considered a contender, more decisions on the application’s electromagnetic environment, frequency and power regulations, and other standards must be made.

Standardization

The unique flexibility and advantages of RFID technology are great benefits, but they are offset by the growing incompatibility of RFID standards. All of the leading RFID vendors sell proprietary systems, resulting in a variety of industries and applications that have adopted the standard protocols and frequencies of a single vendor. RFID standards are in severe disarray; RFID systems for tolling authority usage, air traffic control, trucking, and rail are incompatible. Other proprietary applications exist for the United States Department of Defense Total Asset Visibility system and the United States Intelligent Transportation System.

Because there is no interchangeability between open systems, the growth of the RFID industry and the price reductions that would normally follow widespread inter-industry standardization have been severely curtailed. However, several organizations are working to establish common standards for RFID systems in the United States and Europe, which have adopted RFID usage in more markets. ANSI’s X3T6 group in the U.S., composed of major RFID users and manufacturers, is currently seeking ISO adoption of a draft proposal based on operating systems at a 2.45 GHz carrier frequency. Already ISO has set international standards for RFID animal tracking, ISO 11784 and 11785.

EAN International was established by industry leaders, the Auto-ID Centre and the Uniform Code Council to increase supply chain economics by application of radio frequency identification (RFID). This open, not-for-profit, neutral group is promoting worldwide ratification of the EPC Network. EPC Network comprises RFID technology, the Electronic Product Code (EPC), and support software based upon EPCglobal Standards. It is known as the EPCglobal Network and would function as an information medium to collect, utilize and transmit relevant information across industries and supply chains around the world. Standardisation created tremendous growth in the use of bar code, and such cooperation among RFID manufacturers is vital to promote new developments in technology for broad growth in RFID applications.

Read Write (R/W) versus Read Only (R/O) Tags

Before choosing the ideal type of tag for the desired application, the entire infrastructure for information management must be assessed. Whether centralizing using read only tags or decentralizing using read/write tags used also as data carriers, each option presents pros and cons.

The tags collect a huge volume of real-time information that must be instantly available to each station in the supply chain so that workers can make good decisions. Legacy systems typically have neither the capability or capacity. Usually, the data moves more slowly through the process than the item does. However, if the data is stored on the R/W tag as the item moves down the line, information can be updated for workers at later stations. For advanced operations with capabilities for central data processing, a lower cost R/O tag can uniquely identify an item and be combined with time/date stamping or other needed information that relates to a file residing in a central location.

RFID and Wireless LAN Compatibility

A wireless network and an RFID system do not operate on the same frequency band in most cases. Therefore, there is no more interference than when watching television while using a cordless phone. Even if the two systems occupy the same frequency, simple steps can alleviate any problems. For example, an RFID reader and an RFLAN access point could function next to or aimed at each other if they were controlled by one machine that allowed only one radio system to transmit at a time.

Accomplishments

By moving conservatively, OCR avoided the pitfalls that befell many early adopters. We hired experienced project managers and engineers to first implement RFID solutions in our own company. And we have invested over $150,000 on RFID research and for certifying our technical staff.

Founded on our research, OCR has created significant alliances by earning certifications with leading RFID manufacturers in order to respond swiftly to expected growth in the EPCglobal Standard 915MHz Generation 2 specification. OCR has also worked with Chrysler to explore the feasibility of applications that track baggage, monitor supply chain compliance, and track assets of high value in various industries.

By any yardstick, we are ready to assist our customers in meeting compliance mandates, taking advantage of RFID’s benefits, and using the technology for improvements in efficiency and cost containment within their own operations.

Future

Regional seminars planned for our customers will explain and demonstrate how RFID technology will benefit their companies’ bottom lines. Expert in-the-field installers will answer specific questions.

Being conservative and cautious, OCR recommends that customers start with a pilot project in order to thoroughly understand the value that RFID implementation offers. With some long-time corporate customers, such as Cascades, we are considering not charging or sharing costs of specific trial projects.

Key to any successful RFID installation is careful planning, thorough testing of all components in the system, and an implementation process consisting of a carefully managed series of steps. We are prepared to assist customers in every phase of implementation. To build OCR’s current expertise, we are increasing staff and training to ensure that our customers reap the benefits of the predictive insights promised by RFID.

Strategic alliances with Intermec, the owner of the Internet protocol for Gen 2 standard, to handle supply chain issues and with Alien, current supplier of 90 percent of tags and 70 percent of readers, position OCR well to provide customers with the best-of-breed RFID solutions needed to meet expectations. OCR brings the resources you need in every step of your RF system project--from site survey, staging, infrastructure selection, and installation to live support and expert co-ordination.

Company Investment

OCR’s growth to more than $12 million in yearly revenues in Canada and over $200 million of installed systems in such countries as Germany, Brazil, Netherlands, Asia, Czech Republic, Ireland, and England has brought new corporate offices, global awards and recognitions, and financial stability. OCR is now Symbol Technologies’ fastest growing solutions provider.

For questions or further information regarding RFID, please fill out our RFID questionnaire It will only take a moment. We thank you for your interest.

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