RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) is a revolutionary technology that has helped managers track their products while sitting at the office since the early 2000s. The technology was first introduced in 1973, when the first patent holder, Charles Walton, made a transponder in a card and used it to open doors.
However, these days, RFIDs are used for much more than that. It is a useful tool that helps not only the general public but also companies and warehouses to track their assets during transit. RFIDs are similar to barcodes in the sense that both are used to track and capture information, inventory, or assets. However, where barcode only reads light and dark bands, RFID uses microchips that can contain extensive, diverse data.
Here, we explain how RFID tracking works and its pros and cons. Then, we’ll dive into how the technology combines with pallets to facilitate supply chain and operations managers in performing their duties diligently.
RFID – How It Works
An RFID system depends upon three major components: RFID tags, asset tracking software, and readers or antennae. Here’s a breakdown of each.
1. RFID Tags
Serving as the base for the technology, RFID tags are integrated circuit chips mounted on metal or plastic surfaces and transmit data to the RFID reader. These chips are mounted on plastic pallets to ensure that no mismanagement of assets occurs on behalf of managers, be it in warehouses, distribution centers, or facilities.
The tags themselves include a tiny antenna that allows it to transfer information to the reader (also known as an interrogator). The incorporation of these tags into pallets means that at any time, managers can track where their shipment is and update their inventory accounts accordingly.
These tags transmit frequencies ranging from 125 to 148.5 kHz in the low category and 850 MHz to 2.5 GHz, making them extremely versatile and easy to detect.
Further, there are two types of tags: active and passive.
· Active RFID Tags
Active tags usually contain battery-powered transmitters that can send a signal to the interrogator at any time. These are inserted in pallets to keep the stock in check. The antenna for active RFID readers is usually straight, yet short.
· Passive RFID Tags
Passive tags don’t transmit data beyond a certain point and are powered on only by RFID readers. These tags don’t send signals but generate a magnetic field in the presence of radio waves from the reader around their antenna (in the shape of a coil). The magnetic field then energizes the tag and begins transmitting the data to the reader.
2. Asset Tracking Software
This software can be designed in any way, that lets readers determine how far the target from the destination is or its general location. The software is then installed in the reader which programs the tag accordingly.
3. RFID Readers and Antennae
As mentioned above, the tags need antennae to transmit data, and similarly, the readers also need antennae to catch those signals.
Pros & Cons Of RFID
- No line of sight required opposed to barcodes allowing easier tagging of good, especially on conveyor belts
- No specific orientation required
- Can reduce labor cost if used for inventory check-in
- Improves digital visibility of goods by inputting data directly into tailored software
- Tracking of pallets all across the supply chain
- RFID can hold large amounts of data
- No back-end database connection required
- RFID chips are much more durable than barcode labels
- Costly compared to barcodes
- Although much more traceable, managing that data could be a lot more cumbersome for some
- Different tag types in different industries, in different countries, means there might be room for incompatibility.
RFID Tracking & Pallets
PTM Solutions aims to take RFID to the next level by incorporating RFID chips into plastic pallets. Not only will this help you track your shipment, but the high durability of your pallets will also save you a lot of money in the long run. You won’t have to install new RFID chips into each batch of your products but would simply have to load your product or assets on one of your pallets.
The fact that you’ll be tracking the pallet and not the product itself will ensure that the investment of RFID tags is made only once. This will also save you time since you won’t have to keep programming new tags with your reader again and again.
Using RFID tags in your pallets can not only track your goods for you, but you can also use them for the original purpose: program doors to open for a certain pallet pool! Conveyer belts can be customized in a similar fashion to send a certain batch to a different location.
As we strive towards automation, RFID chips within plastic pallets are the perfect answer to helping you get ready for the future in a cost-effective manner. Autonomous cars, drone shipments, and other automated technologies might soon mean that these chips will be able to tell cars and drones where to deliver and where to return the pallets.
PTM Solutions offers you a cost-effective and reliable answer to future-proofing your business with the help of RFID enabled, durable pallets. Contact us for a quote for your next pallet order.