What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of RFID

This question is often posed by our customers when they are evaluating RFID as a technology. If they are currently using barcode to track their assets, the question of what the advantages of RFID are and how RFID is different from barcode arises.

RFID, as an auto-ID technology, has been around for more than 40 years, in various flavors. Today, the most prevalent RFID technology is RAIN RFID, which functions in the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band.

An RFID system broadly consists of:

  • RFID Tags
  • RFID Scanners (Handheld and/or Fixed)
  • RFID Software to process the tag reads by the scanner
  • Other accessories including buzzers, stack lights, etc.

These components have all improved through several revisions over the past 15 years or so and therefore, tracking with RFID offers more advantages today, than at its early stages.

Advantages of RFID Tracking

Listed here are some of the key benefits of RFID Tracking and it will certainly answer the question, why RFID is important.

  • No line of sight needed– Very useful when you want to read RFID-tagged assets inside non-metal containers and pallets, without requiring the container to be opened. Tagged assets on carts, being moved through RFID-instrumented doors can be read even if the RFID tags are not in the line of sight of the reader or its antenna. One can see how useful tracking with RFID would be, in tracking apparel, uniforms, hotel linen, etc. – these tagged items can all be read in a pile without needing to scan each item individually.
  • Scan multiple RFID tags at one time – This allows for inventory scans to be sped up by more than 90% as compared to barcode. The RFID technology allows multiple asset tags to be read at the same time – dozens of RFID Tags. Therefore, when working with handheld RFID readers, one just has to wave the RFID reader in the general direction of the RFID tags for them to be picked up. One can easily see how quickly servers in datacenter racks can be scanned with RFID vs needing to scan barcodes on each rack server.
  • Scan from a distance, enabling real-time monitoring – This is a big win for RFID. This characteristic of RFID technology allows tagged assets to be picked up while they move through portals – doorways, egress/ingress points, dock doors and gates. This greatly helps in automating supply chain tracking. Inventory in rooms and buildings can be automatically updated when tagged items are detected going in or out.
  • Can handle challenging environments – RFID tags can be made from ruggedized materials that can withstand outdoor elements including temperature extremes, sun exposure, moisture and dirt. This makes RFID a much more viable technology for the outdoors. Barcodes, even when etched on ruggedized material like metal, can still be rendered unreadable if they have scratches or dirt smears on them. RFID asset tags are available for medical and lab equipment that undergo sterilization and autoclaving. Dredging pipe sitting in water can have ruggedized-RFID tags applied on the pipes, so that the tags are read even when they are covered with moss and algae.
  • Doesn’t require change of human behavior – Barcode scanning requires a human to scan a barcode, one at a time. With RFID, because of the above characteristics of being able to read from a distance and being able to read multiple asset tags at one time, automated tracking is possible. Lab managers know exactly when a piece of lab equipment was removed from a lab or when it was brought into a lab, just by monitoring the lab doorways using RFID tracker. No change in human behavior is required in this case.
  • Physically search or locate RFID tagged assets – The advantages of being able to read multiple RFID tags without line of sight, RFID also allows tagged assets to be searched for and located amongst many other tagged assets. This is a big plus when one is searching for one specific vehicle in a parking lot or specific book in a library.

Disadvantages of RFID

  • Price – The most significant one is price. The price of RFID tags is significantly higher than that of barcodes. However, given that the price of barcodes are sub-$0.05, a significantly more expensive RFID tag would still be under $2.00. This difference is easily paid for within the first few inventory scans using RFID.
  • Hardware – Hardware for RFID can be more complex. RFID handheld scanners are quite similar to barcode scanners. However, the fixed RFID readers used on doorways can be more complex, since they include RFID readers, antenna, antenna cables, etc.

An RFID system deployment involves thorough planning and a clear understanding of the technology’s capabilities and limitations. AssetPulse offers free consultation to customers, who think they need RFID solutions, to understand their requirements and provide the best possible solution that suits their business.

AssetPulse offers more than 18 years of expertise, offering the best RFID Tracking solutions to businesses in the public and private sectors, including many tech behemoths, manufacturers, and biotech enterprises in the US and internationally.

Looking for RFID Asset Tracking Solutions?

RFID Asset Tracking Solutions Customized for your Industry

Contact Us

How much does an RFID system cost

Good question! The cost of RFID system is an essential factor that helps decide whether an RFID tracking project is going to come to fruition or not. Unfortunately, the answer is, “It depends.” Let us explain.

Cost of RFID System

A typical RFID tracking system would contain the following essential components. Let us explore each one of them and ascertain their cost.

1. Cost of RFID Readers: RFID scanners are also often referred to as readers. There are two main categories of scanners:

  • Fixed RFID Scanners: These scanners are set up to monitor either a doorway, ‘chokepoint’ or a zone in real-time. Included with the scanners, are antenna and other accessories. There are several types of readers (different manufacturers and with varying power settings), which vary in price. There are dozens of antenna to choose from – it’s important to choose the right one for the use case at hand. The cost of RFID reader (fixed RFID reader systems) can cost anywhere from $2000 – $8000. AssetPulse offers a wide range of RFID readers with a choice of antenna optimized for the use case at hand.
  • Handheld Scanners: These scanners or readers are used to perform RFID scans manually. Scanners vary by manufacturer, ruggedness (ability to withstand rough handling or to withstand outdoor environments), power settings, etc. All these factors can affect the price of the scanner. The cost of RFID reader (handheld scanners) can cost anywhere between $1000 – $4500 without the software running on them. AssetPulse offers various flavors of RFID handheld scanners, suitable for the environment that they would be used in, E.g. indoor manufacturing, outdoor Oil and Gas or indoor Cleanroom environments.
handheld_reader

2. Cost of RFID Tags: There are several hundred different types of tags. The cost of RFID tags vary by quantity, size, material it is made of, and ruggedness of the tag. The lowest cost per tag could be in the sub-$0.10 range. However, this is the case for quantities of several hundred thousand tags and the tags have minimal structure (i.e. they are to be used in ‘gentle’ environments with minimal handling).

Most of the tags for RFID tracking will cost more, because they need to be ruggedized enough to be applied on assets that move and may be subject to varying environments and varying types of handling. Cost can vary anywhere between $1.00 to $10+. RFID tag costs are again, subject to the quantity ordered.

AssetPulse offers dozens of RFID tags of varying size, material, robustness and price.

3. Cost of Implementing RFID System: RFID readers and tags are not very useful without the software to process the data read by the readers and to analyze the processed data to draw inferences and conclusions. RFID Software functionality and value can range widely – from a simple Tag Reading application to more sophisticated, smart applications that process the tag data intelligently in order to make complex inferences of asset movements through locations. Similar range of sophistication exists with software running on handheld RFID readers. The software comes in various flavors – web applications/platforms running on the Cloud or On-Prem. The costs of RFID software range vary widely, too widely to even provide a meaningful range.

AssetPulse’s next-gen RFID asset tracking software combined with the state-of-the-art RFID and IoT Hardware and Tags Lab, helps to provide optimal and innovative RFID asset tracking solutions to various industries such as Laboratories, Biomedical Manufacturing, Industrial Manufacturing, IT, Oil and Gas and Construction. AssetPulse offers customizable RFID asset tracking solutions to many such industries.

4. RFID Services: RFID Hardware and Software needs to be installed, configured and tuned, in order to provide maximum value for the investment. Vendors provide these services either onsite or remotely. Deployment services become important especially when Fixed RFID readers needs to be installed to monitor chokepoints, doorways, cabinets or zones. Hourly/Daily RFID services costs vary widely.

AssetPulse leverages its 18+ years of RFID domain expertise in order to provide the very best installation and deployment services. AssetPulse is frequently the Go-To vendor when RFID deployments have failed due to complex use cases where the first deployment failed to read tags accurately.

Get Free Consultation

Are you someone who is looking for a solution to track your critical assets? Please feel free to reach out to us. Our experienced solution advisors are always willing to recommend the best RFID asset tracking solution based on your requirements.

Looking for RFID Asset Tracking Solutions?

RFID Solutions Customized for your Industry

Contact Us

How AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking System transforms a traditional MES into a Real-time MES System

Companies use Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to measure and control critical production activities, offering improved traceability, productivity and quality. MES controls process flow and reduces any chance of mistakes in the process. It gathers data every step of the way including who operated on the process, when it was done, how long each process took, equipment used for the process and other parameters . Further, it provides immediate data visibility for each work order, what the current work-in-progress items are and what stage they are in. MES systems serve numerous functions, such as equipment tracking, product serialization, labor tracking, inventory management, costing, task completion capture, and defect and resolution monitoring.

In order to fine-tune the production process and hone in on areas for improvement, a more detailed visibility is needed into these areas. This requires data capture in raw material tracking which leads to inventory management tracking; costing, WIP tracking, equipment and labor tracking. By effectively digitalizing data collection and controlling the entire system, an MES can realize manyfold improvement in manufacturing efficiency and productivity. Traditional MES systems employ barcodes and/or manual data collection during all the phases. However, the gap between physical flow of product and material and information flow in the MES is too large to provide accurate visibility.  Automated data capture via AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system transforms a traditional MES system into a Real-time MES system. 

AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking System

AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system automates data collection which includes reporting of raw material consumption in real-time, which in turn, allows for real-time updates of inventory; WIP Tracking, Tool, Process Instruction Document and Operator tracking. All this information feeds into the MES to afford real-time updates of the entire manufacturing floor including real-time status of all the jobs on the floor where potential issues crop up.

Without automated data capture from AssetPulse’s RFID tracking systems, updates to MES were being provided whenever it was convenient to enter the transaction into the system. E.g. When raw material for the next workorder is sent from ‘Supermarket’ (warehouse) to be staged at the assembly line, an ERP transaction might be completed as soon as it leaves the warehouse instead of when it actually arrives at the line. This may be done, because it is easier for the warehouse to complete this transaction since there might not be anyone at the line to receive the components at the staging area of the assembly line and then enter it into the system.

With AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system, a transaction is completed only when the inventory actually arrives at the line. Similarly, WIP status is captured in real time, i.e. exactly when the operator starts work on the WIP and when he finishes. In a traditional MES system, the start time may have been the completion of the previous operation, since that is the time the operator transacts in the system.

RFID Tracking System

AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking system automatically captures the presence of all tools and equipment used on the line, travelers, documents and even the operators working at each workstation on the line. This allows alerts to be issued if and when incorrect tools, past-due calibration-equipment and documents are present. Further, it can flag operators and technicians present on the line, who haven’t completed the necessary certifications or training to perform the work.

There are numerous such examples where deployment of RFID can vastly enrich an existing MES system in order to gain maximum improvements in operational visibility, efficiency and improved quality.

Transform Traditional MES System into Real-time MES System

AssetPulse RFID Tracking System for Manufacturing

Contact Us

How RFID Based Asset Tracking aids in GLP/GMP Regulated Lab Management

lab equipment tracking software

Being responsible for the equipment in a GLP/GMP regulated lab is no easy task. Several compliance requirements have to be adhered to. AssetPulse’s RFID based asset tracking solutions have greatly helped streamline the equipment management of such locations.

RFID based asset tracking

 

AssetPulse RFID based Asset Tracking Software

Our real-time RFID based asset tracking solutions provide an accurate inventory of all equipment across geographic locations. It can detect addition or removal of components in qualified and/or validated systems like HPLCs. The Lab Manager can be alerted of such movements, thereby triggering a re-qualification process automatically. Failure to re-qualify can have serious logistical, technical and financial repercussions.

Several groups or departments within the organization are interested in knowing the whereabouts of the equipment. They include not only the actual users of the equipment – R&D personnel or cleanroom manufacturing personnel, but also other departments like Metrology or personnel who are responsible for calibration or preventive maintenance of the equipment. Each of these groups is looking for equipment at different times of the equipment’s’ lifecycle. Tracking compliance documents related to the equipment is also a time-consuming task. Often, the documents are stored in a separate physical location and are subject to the normal woes of searching for misplaced documents.

Before the use of RFID, the equipment databases were woefully out of sync with reality. This resulted in Finance and QA departments to initiate audits often, in order to update their databases. Small teams of scientists/researchers would need to be assembled, to scour the labs looking for equipment, severely impacting their overall productivity.

AssetPulse RFID based Asset Tracking Software Maintains Centralized Database of Asset Information

Maintaining accurate inventory of all the equipment and keeping their details up to date can be a full time job. Details include location, manufacturer, model, serial number, received date, deployment date and all maintenance related information including calibration/maintenance schedules, non-routine repairs, performance verification and revalidation dates.  The AssetPulse database allows all such detailed information to be maintained in one central database, accessible to all concerned players including R&D, Quality and Finance personnel.

Equipment qualification results in several sets of documents to be generated that are roughly slotted into three categories:

  • Specification – Documents specifying the equipment from the user and manufacturer’s perspective, including the URS (User Requirements Specification), FRS (Functional Requirements Specification) and DS (Design Specification)
  • Protocol – These encompass the procedures stating how qualification is conducted including test procedures, operating ranges and acceptance criteria
  • Report – Include the Traceability Matrix and Summary Reports
  • In the Specification group, the written document includes the critical attributes for the equipment from the user’s and manufacturer’s aspects. User Requirement Specification (URS), Functional Requirement Specification (FRS), and Design Specification (DS) are in this group.
  • In the Protocol group, the written procedures state how the qualification will be conducted. This may include the test units, test procedures, critical test parameters, operating ranges, sampling plan, and acceptance criteria. Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQ).
  • In the Report group, the written document reports the qualification activities and results, and traces back to the test items with their specifications/ requirements Traceability Matrix, ™ and Summary Report.

Once Validation is complete, the equipment has to be regularly maintained including undergoing calibration and other preventive maintenance procedures. The AssetGather RFID system also helps personnel to locate the equipment when it is due for calibration.

The AssetGather database allows all relevant documents to be stored together with the equipment details. IQ (Installation Qualification)/OQ (Operational Qualification)/PQ (Performance Qualification) documents, standard operating procedures, warranty certificates, calibration certificates can be made easily accessible through the database. This allows audits to be done a lot quicker, instead of having to sift through a myriad of documents in order to locate the appropriate pieces of paper.

Thus, the use of RFID can effectively bridge any visibility gaps with respect to Asset Management in Analytical labs, hospitals and in pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chains.

Looking for RFID Based Asset Tracking Software?

RFID Solutions Customized for your Industry

Contact Us

RFID Inventory Tracking of Raw Material in a 2 Bin Kanban System

Many well reputed companies have deployed the 2 Bin Kanban system of inventory management in their manufacturing facilities. This simple system employs two bins to manage small but critical raw material inventory on the assembly line. Parts are supplied in this pull system through two rotating bins. The technician pulls parts from one bin till it is empty and then switches to the second bin. The empty first bin triggers an event that causes the bin to be replenished.

RFID Inventory Tracking of Raw material

Often, manual labor is used to look for empty bins on the line. A ‘runner’ periodically moves through the lines, picking up the empty bins and transporting them to the warehouse for replenishment. Some parts need replenishment more often than others. This can easily either cause delays and consequently, bottlenecks on the assembly line or require more manual labor, thereby increasing costs.

AssetPulse has worked with manufacturing organizations to proactively alert when an empty bin is generated. Communicating with ERP and other manufacturing systems, the Warehouse is able to decide when to deploy the ‘runner’ to pick up bins on specific lines, thereby optimizing the ‘pick up’ process. Additionally the speed at which the individual items are pulled will determine how many of the items are placed in the bins. This will help in identifying the number of items required to replenish the first bin, so that there is little risk of running low on stock which in turn could slow down production.

Choosing the right RFID tags for this use case is critical. Since the bins can be placed in close proximity of one another, it is very important that only the correct bins are read, and not other extraneous bins located close by. This issue of cross-reads can be a fundamental reason why the whole system can break down. Cross-reads can also be facilitated by choosing incorrect hardware – the RFID reader and/or RFID antenna. This is one main reason, why it is recommended that the Manufacturing Organization work with a single vendor to deploy such solutions, thereby optimizing all aspects of the solution – the RFID tags, the RFID reader hardware and the RFID software.

It is the software that facilitates proper handling of the bins. E.g., once the Warehouse replenishes the bins, our RFID Inventory Tracking Solutions can be used to ensure correct dispensing of bins, i.e. are the correct replenished bins placed at the correct locations? Working in close integration with ERP and Manufacturing Systems, AssetPulse RFID inventory tracking solutions communicate information about these bins back and forth, validating the correct placement of bins and alerting when exceptions occur.

The 2 Bin Kanban system of inventory management is typically used in industries that function in high volumes. Further, this system is suited for manufacturing lines where there is high overlap of parts across multiple product lines. The same RFID solutions can also be leveraged to expedite changeovers on the line. Changeover is the process of converting a manufacturing line from one product to another or from one work order to another. The tedious, but critical task of removing all bins from the ‘old’ line and deploying the bins required for the ‘new’ line, is time consuming and error prone.

Leveraging AssetPulse’s RFID solutions, organizations are able to complete this task quicker and with fewer errors. Our system has real-time information about the exact location of all the bins (when they are being tracked via RFID at the workstations). Due to continuous integration with ERP and Manufacturing systems, we are able to make decisions on which bins can remain in place, which bins need to be removed and what new bins need to be added to the line. Validation of the removal of old bins and placement of new bins is also done.

This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.
0 + 0
Please enter the correct sum of above values

1 2 3