How to Choose the Right RFID System

Published on : July 31, 2022

How to choose a RFID system:

  1. Know what tag type you need
  2. Know what operating frequency you need
  3. Know what readers you need
  4. Consider the assets you’re tracking
  5. Factor in environmental conditions
  6. Find out what kind of software to use
  7. Select a reliable partner

RFID systems are very cost-effective tools, and offer several benefits for inventory and logistics. However, to receive all of these benefits, you must select the right RFID system — which means finding the right combination of tags and readers.

The tricky thing is that RFID tech is complex, and there are thousands of products and configurations to choose from. Finding the right one is no easy feat.

To help you out, we’ve put together a short guide on how to choose an RFID system. This should help you sort the sea of choices, and find the system to provide optimal performance for your business.

Know what tag type you need

RFID systems are made up of two things: tags, and readers. There are many different tags to choose from, which have different read range requirements, sensor requirements, cost, size, weight, and recommended applications.

They can be categorized into two main types:

  1. Active Tags — Powered using an internal battery. This enables them to continuously transmit signals to an RFID reader, so they have longer read ranges. They are usually larger than passive tags, due to their enclosures and batteries. They are also more expensive than passive tags.
  2. Passive Tags — Does not have any power source, and is instead powered by the RFID reader. As a result, they have shorter read ranges and are on the smaller side. They are also the economical choice for cheap, small, or mass-produced products.

Know what operating frequency you need

The tags you can choose for your RFID system will also have varying operating frequencies. Each kind falls under one of three bands on the electromagnetic spectrum:

  1. Low Frequency (LF) — offers the lowest read range and data processing speed. However, it is a cost-effective choice for applications that have consistent physical placement of tags on items and can be read at close range. LF readers are also not that affected by environmental factors, such as water or metal.
  2. High Frequency (HF) — Has higher read range, processing speed, and read accuracy than LF tags. Its read range allows for greater flexibility of tag and reader placement.
  3. Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) — These tags can be scanned from up to 25 feet away, and readers can identify batches of these tags simultaneously. With UHF tags, you can scan truckloads of tagged assets at once. However, these tags are very sensitive to their environment. They can be impeded by reflection and dampening from their surroundings.

Know what readers you need

Location and use are two main factors in deciding what kind of RFID reader to use. Specifically, how large your location is, and how you want reading to go.

If your operational zone is on the larger end, then you need something with longer read ranges. Likewise, if you want your people to scan each item or cart individually, then handheld readers are a good option. Or, you could use a fixed reader if you want automatic scanning as assets pass through a specific point.

Consider these two factors, and figure out how you want to track asset movements within your facility. This is key to finding a type of reader and reader configuration that will be efficient at scanning your RFID tags.

Consider the assets you’re tracking

Likewise, don’t forget to keep the assets you intend to track in mind when going over possible RFID systems. This will influence what kind of RFID tag you can use. For example, if your asset’s surface is made from metal, then you’ll need to find a tag that can be glued or screwed on and is suitable for on-metal applications.

Likewise, consider the size and price of the asset. Some items are so small that you may be limited in terms of tag choice. And, it’s a good idea to try and match the price of the tag to the value of the asset. For example, tracking large and expensive enclosures means that using higher-cost active tags might be a good idea. On the other hand, if you’re tracking something cheap and mass-produced, like tote bags, for example, then using a lower-cost passive tag might be the better choice.

Factor in environmental conditions

Look at every place that your RFID tags and readers will pass their entire lifetime. You must factor in the usual temperature, humidity, chemical exposure, and other environmental conditions. This must be done not only in your facility but also in transportation, storage, etc.

Depending on how hectic your factory floor, trucks, stores, or storage is, you may need to use encapsulated tags and readers. Doing this will provide ample protection from friction, abrasion, heat, etc. of the environment.

For example, if your factories are often humid, then your assets might absorb moisture. An encapsulated tag reduces the risk of it becoming brittle or waterlogged. These are the kinds of measures to take to protect it from the environment.

Find out what kind of software to use

Next, figure out what your software needs are. Do you want your readers to work with your tablets or mobile phones? Do you want in-built Bluetooth reading? How do you want your RFID system to transmit data? What kind of functions do you want to have from the RFID software? Do you want your RFID tech to be integrated with an existing system?

These are just a few things to ask when looking at RFID software. Try to list out what functions you need from this system, and what functions would be nice to have. Also, list out what compatibility you want it to have with other devices or systems within your business.

Select a reliable partner

RFID technology and equipment are always changing at a rapid pace. As a result, it’s hard for regular businesses to keep up with the latest in RFID developments. This is where companies like ELID step in.

With us as your partner, we can save you a ton of time and potential headaches when implementing an RFID system into your business. As RFID specialists, we have the knowledge and experience needed to advise you on selecting the best RFID system for your purposes. And, we can help you test, fine-tune, and update this system as needed, so that it always delivers the results your business wants.

This is arguably one of the most important steps you can take when choosing the right RFID system for your operations.

Key Takeaway

RFID systems are an important tool for almost every business and offer unparalleled benefits for asset tracking. However, with the wide variety of RFID technology on the market, it’s important to know how to choose an RFID system. Use our guide, and message us today to help you find the best RFID solutions for your business!