Has RFID finally come of age?
Posted on 09 March 2012
After many false starts RFID is beginning to fulfil its true potential. That’s a bold statement, so what has changed? Why is Codegate making greater use of this ever-promising technology and why now?
Guest writer – Graham Fenton
First of all the scope needs to be narrowed. There are many variants of RFID operating in different frequency bands from 120Khz to 10GHz. I’m referring to UHF (866 – 868 MHz in Europe). Whilst Near Field Communications (NFC) is also really catching on and is used by Codegate it has been discussed in a previous post.
It’s interesting to see how articles on RFID have changed over the years. Here are a some examples:
April 2004: What is the RFID hype all about?
September 2004: Users resist RFID hype
April 2005: The role of RFID in the mobile phone
October 2007: RFID: Over hyped and over here
March 2009: Has RFID hype helped or hurt user adoption?
September 2010: Is RFID Heyday just around the corner?
May 2010: The evolving business of RFID
Dec 2010: Is RFID dead? Should it be?
February 2011: Is RFID in apparel finally coming of age?
September 2011: The promise and problems of radio frequency identification
March 2012: RFID looks better without the hype
What’s clear is RFID was over-hyped by the press and over-estimated by market analysts. Many businesses invested heavily only to find themselves at the bleeding edge of a technology that didn’t live up to expectation. However a glance at the more recent articles shows strong signs that a tipping point has been reached and RFID is paying its way and gaining wider acceptance. Why now?
Codegate always adopted a prudent approach to RFID projects, only using the technology when bar codes wouldn’t work, when risk was low and it was cost effective to deliver a proof of concept. For fifteen years we have seen the RFID market slowly develop. In the UHF space some important factors have recently coincided to make the commercial argument for using this technology more attractive:
It’s over seven years since the unifying ‘Gen 2’ standard was ratified, but now it is effective and manufacturer interoperability is a reality. The proprietary nature of hardware that stunted RFID market growth is becoming a thing of the past.
Similarly the GS1 (formerly Article Numbering) organisation introduced RFID into standards for global item level tracking that can be applied beyond the traditional retail supply chain. Codegate is a member of GS1 and has adopted the standards. For example we apply the Global Individual Asset Identifier standards (GIAI-96 and GIAI-202) to asset tags, making it easier to trace equipment back to suppliers or owners irrespective of what tracking system they are part of. Take the example of a large complex construction site – traceability and accountability of tools and plant becomes much easier, leading to less waste and shrinkage.
Putting aside the argument over whether HF or UHF is best for item tracking, in UHF world the development of ‘on metal’ and ‘in metal’ tags has taken away one major issue, the ability to track metallic items. Indeed some of the newer tags work perfectly well both on and off metal.
Next add in the performance improvements of the latest generation readers and tags, the cost reductions coming through as worldwide demand has increased and you can begin to see the historic barriers to deploying an RFID solution are now crumbling.
Codegate is now expanding the use of RFID within its product range. Our on-site event registration system can now print UHF RFID passes and track delegates unobtrusively through any number of entrances. Visitors to the BAPCO event in April will be able to see it in operation. The same system can track the attendance of visitors to a specific stand, recording what they looked at and for how long. This can be seen in action on the Codegate stand A2. This technology is now commercially viable for event management because of the falling cost of ID cards. We’re finding UHF tags are significantly better than HF for document tracking to the point where it’s viable to track individual documents rather than folders. One of our item tracking projects is a finalist in the RFID Live Awards 2012 – more details will appear here soon. At BAPCO we will be featuring Motorola fixed and mobile readers and demonstrating how RFID can help improve asset management and safety for Police, Fire and Health services. RFID is a technology that Codegate is now building into new solutions with confidence. RFID has come of age.