EPC-RFID solutions integrate seamlessly with other key technology and product offerings, including advanced data capture devices such as bar code scanners and imagers, mobile computers and wireless infrastructure.
What kind of products will I need for an RFID deployment? How do I manage all these devices?
There are really two sets of products that need to be built to meet RFID needs. The first is a core hardware product or RFID reader. Several different form factors are necessary to ensure that RFID easily integrates into existing business processes in today’s retail supply chain. For example, a classic dock or portal reader will reside on an inbound or outbound dock to read whatever comes into or out of the facility. There’s also a strong need for forklift RFID readers so that product is tracked as the driver is moving around the warehouse. It’s a great value added way to read the data, but it also affords you an acceptable substitute for a larger number of dock and portal readers. In addition, conveyor RFID readers read individually tagged cases at high speeds, some at up to 540-feet a minute. Handheld portable terminal RFID solutions are vital as associates move inside the warehouse or around the store. Mobile computers let you take advantage of the RFID tags without relying solely on fixed readers. And finally, a layer of management software and appliances ties this network of disparate devices together. It offers a central point that enables you to see what’s working and what’s not, what data is coming in and where it’s going. With it, you can manage both the data and the devices.
How expensive are RFID tags and readers?
RFID readers typically cost several thousand dollars for a typical system that includes a RFID reader, antennas and a mounting structure. However, for most companies, the most compelling question is: “how much are the RFID tags?” As RFID technology becomes more widely accepted, it is likely that literally tens of billions of RFID tags will be needed for the pallets and cases that move throughout the global supply chain. Given this volume, there is a strong incentive to keep RFID tags costs low and to seek continuing reductions in price. Today, passive UHF tags utilized by the EPC initiative typically cost about 30 cents when purchased in quantities of millions. There is a belief that this cost can be reduced to as low as 5 cents over the next few years, if RFID tag requirements rise to the billions to allow volume efficiencies in the production of the tags. To a certain extent, it is a little bit of a chicken and egg problem -RFID tags will be really cheap when people buy billions of them, but people will only buy billions when they are really cheap. The good news is costs and prices tend to decline consistently every year.