WHAT IS THE VALUE PROPOSITION OF RFID?
One really needs to look at this on a case-by-case basis to get at specific benefits for, say, a particular industry. And that is why there is a need for committing to a pilot to create a robust business case for utilising this technology. But clearly, automated reporting of real-time, accurate data can provide tremendous advantages in all kinds of industries from express parcel delivery, to healthcare and life science. In addition, RFID’s ability to support asset tracking is of great interest to a number of industries.
WHAT DO I NEED TO INTEGRATE A COMPLETE RFID SYSTEM?
The basic but critical elements of an RFID system include tags, printer/encoders, reader/encoders (interrogators), sensors, middleware (for data-filtering and data-flow management), and, if needed, some software adaptations to enable legacy applications and systems to receive RFID-generated data.
RFID adopters should seek out companies that have had IMPLEMENTED an RFID System as they can greatly assist and expedite RFID adopters through their pilots and early adoption learning curves.
CAN YOU COMBINE RFID WITH CARD IMAGING TO CREATE SMART CARDS?
Yes. Cards are just a form factor. “Smart cards,” as they are called, are used in a variety of applications, including security/access control, employee identification, contact-less payment systems, and customer loyalty programmes, among others. Zebra provides a wide variety of card printers.
WHAT ARE THE “PAIN POINTS” OF IMPLEMENTING AN RFID SOLUTION?
The biggest “pain point” with RFID is its potential to change your existing business processes because ultimately, you can collect much more relevant data and have it in real-time. RFID is an enabling technology. You can’t extract all the benefits of this technology without fundamental business changes, system changes, and data changes.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NETWORK WHEN IMPLEMENTING RFID?
The networks that exist today to support barcodes will more than likely be able to support RFID. RFID and barcodes are both technologies that deliver data to a host system; however, there is a main point of difference. barcodes utilize one-way serialized and periodic data. RFID is two-way. Data passes from the tag to the reader/encoder and then can pass back again, depending on the application or need to update the tag. Data can be delivered from multiple tags effectively in parallel, and by virtue of not requiring human intervention can provide more data in real-time.
There needs to be bridge software, or middleware, incorporated into the overall architecture to prevent the amount of data that hits the system at the same time from overwhelming it. So RFID requires data filtering and data-flow management, to turn parallel, two-way data into the serialized data that a legacy system can handle. These functions can be also partially handled by the printer/encoders and readers.
Another consideration is the need for more bandwidth in the network depending on how much RFID increases the overall amount of data flow within the network. If existing networks can handle the additional traffic with the speed required by the applications, they should not necessarily need to be upgraded or be any more complex.