RFID as a Trend: Good Bye Barcode!

RFID: Radio Frequency Identification

At a glance

RFID, RFID-Tag, Radio Frequency Identification, Identifikation, Lokalisierung, Positioning, Ortung, Logistik, Produktion
© Fraunhofer IIS/Udo Rink

RFID-Tag consisting of an antenna wiggled to the microchip in a 3-centimeter-large square

RFID makes it possible to wirelessly access data stored on microchips, such as serial numbers. RFID is far more flexible to use than bar code labels and offers decisive advantages.

Several hundred RFID transponders can be simultaneously identified by a single reader module, with no line of sight required.

RFID transponders are rewritable, which means that, unlike a bar code, they can be reused on the same object. International standards ensure that RFID will remain non-proprietary and inexpensively available for many years to come. Moreover, RFID transponders are highly resistant to dirt and mechanical stress.

We will comprehensively assess the potential for use of RFID technology in your environment, taking account of both technical and business considerations. On this basis we will then produce recommendations for capital expenditure.

Depending on the intended use and the range required, we will also custom-develop innovative solutions or expand existing ones.

Technical description

RFID-labelled box next to antenna
© © iStock.com/nullplus

Compared to other solutions, RFID has many advantages

RFID is faster, more robust and less expensive than all comparable technologies. Fraunhofer IIS can create a solution tailored to your application.

RFID technology enables data transfer between a reader/writer and an RFID transponder attached to an object. An integrated IT system analyzes the data retrieved.

In addition, electronic tags can store information. They consist of a microchip with an antenna and a carrier or housing. The reader/writer initiates data communication by sending out electromagnetic waves. These activate the RFID transponder, which will then store any information received and transmit it back whenever queried.

Passive RFID transponders derive their power from the electromagnetic field of the reader and therefore have a range of only a few meters.

In Europe, RFID uses the 13.56 MHz (HF) and 865 to 869 MHz (UHF) frequency bands. HF tags are ultra-thin passive RFID transponders which are mounted on foil along with the antenna and hence very inexpensive. However, their range is limited. Passive UHF transponders offer a longer range (up to 10 meters), but are more expensive than smart tags.

Active RFID transponders are equipped with a battery. While they have a range of up to 100 meters, they also have a limited life span and are more expensive than passive transponders.

RFID transponders are rewritable, which means that, unlike a bar code, they can be reused on the same object. International standards such as EPCGlobal ensure that RFID will remain non-proprietary and inexpensively available for many years to come. Moreover, RFID transponders are highly resistant to dirt and mechanical stress.

A variety of possibilities

RFID Integration in beliebigen Materialien für Identifizierung, Ortung, Lokalisierung, Positioning, Logistik, Produktion, Logistics, Production, Radio Frequency Identification
© MEV-Verlag, Germany

RFID in Industry and Production

RFID Integration in beliebigen Materialien für Identifizierung, Ortung, Lokalisierung, Positioning, Logistik, Produktion, Logistics, Production, Radio Frequency Identification
© Fraunhofer IIS/Johannes Hermann

Integration of RFID-Tags in almost any material

RFID technology is used in various industries for a wide range of purposes.

 

Logistics – intelligent storage

RFID transponders bridge the gap between the physical flow of goods and the flow of information between businesses. Transponders attached to packages contain logistical or other information, e.g. relating to destination, time of delivery or contents. This makes it possible to continuously track an object along its journey. In the future, objects will be able to have an influence on how they are handled. Large containers equipped with active electronic labels will then be able to tell a crane which warehouse to store them in.

In pharmaceutics, labels can be combined with a temperature sensor, making it possible, for instance, to check whether a drug has been kept cool at all times.

 

Manufacturing – trace the ways

RFID makes it possible to track and trace parts and components throughout the production chain. In the event of a callback, RFID makes it possible to reconstruct exactly where and when a manufacturing error occurred. In mechanical engineering, RFID facilitates on-site maintenance and repair: With reliable information about the part to be replaced, personnel are able to respond more quickly, saving time and costs. With RFID, the vision of continuous tracking and tracing from manufacturing to use to recycling becomes feasible.

RFID transponders embedded in tools or tool parts make it possible to trace a finished product to a particular machine.

 

Anti-counterfeiting – reliable identification

High-end goods warrant the installation of RFID transponders carrying serial numbers. In this way, a product can be reliably identified and distinguished from imitations. For added security, the transponder is made irremovable.

 

Game development

In board gaming, RFID technology can provide an input interface. Players' moves on the board can thus be electronically recorded and transmitted to a computer. This makes it possible to play board games over the Internet, for instance. Game pieces equipped with RFID transponders also enable new kinds of games.

 

Asset management – finding things fast

RFID-based asset management enables companies to manage and maintain tools, devices or instruments with maximum efficiency. RFID can provide continuous information about the whereabouts and users of mobile assets, helping control and optimize their usage. Account is taken of turnaround time, quantitative and qualitative considerations as well as the associated operating costs and capital expenditure.

 

Access control – only the right people

RFID is used for access control mainly in corporate environments but also in soccer stadiums, public transportation networks or toll systems. The technology's flexibility and reusability help reduce costs. In addition, RFID increases security.

Solutions for you

RFID at Fraunhofer IIS

We offer a comprehensive range of services, which you can use either as a whole or individually:

  • RFID consulting: Which of the numerous technologies available best suits your specific purpose?
  • Cost-benefit analysis: Technical considerations aside, which technology is the optimum solution for you from a business point of view?
  • Risk analysis: As well as being technically feasible and cost-effective, the ideal tag for you needs to be completely tamper-proof.
  • RFID development: If the ideal product is not available on the market, we will develop it for you.
  • System design: In collaboration with strong partners, we can also develop a complete RFID-based information system.
  • Implementation support: We will make sure that your solution is implemented quickly and successfully.
  • Service engineering: Based on the system implemented, we will develop additional RFID services for your internal and external customers.