RFID tagging is done to track and monitor movement of assets within a building or movement from one location to another, such as manufacturing facilities to warehouses, yards, and distribution centers. RFID tagging also helps to manage inventory of assets, tools and raw material.
RFID tags are used to track critical assets in industries such as IT, manufacturing, laboratory, oil and gas, and construction to locate the assets instantly, perform inventory audits easily and effortlessly, maintain compliance regulations and manage assets efficiently.
How RFID Tags Work
RFID tags interface with RFID antennas and readers that direct electromagnetic radio waves to the nearby RFID tags. The RFID tag's antenna captures the energy from the radio waves and develops a current moving towards the RFID chip at the center of the tag powering the integrated circuit (IC). The IC powers on, regulates the energy with data from its memory banks and directs a signal back out through the tag's antenna.
Anatomy of RFID Tag
The RFID Tag has three components:
Antenna - The antenna is unique for each type of tag. Its primary function is to receive and transmit RF signals. For active RFID tag, it transmits the signals and for passive and semi-passive RFID tag, it reflects the signals. For passive RFID tag, the antenna powers the IC by collecting power from the radio waves. Antennas are generally designed and made by tag manufacturers.
Integrated Circuit (IC) / Chip - The IC, also called as electronic circuit or microchip or chip, has a logic unit that handles memory allocation to store data and make decisions. The memory is divided into different blocks called banks that process information, send and receive information, and has anti-collision protocols. Every IC type is unique and there are very few semiconductor manufacturers who make ICs. The only difference between various types of ICs is the number of bits in the respective memory banks.
Substrate - This layer holds all the other components of the RFID tag. It is made up of thin flexible plastic or rigid material. It depends on the type of tag and the environmental conditions that tag is subjected to. Some of the materials that are used to make substrate are polymers, polyvinyl chloride, styrene, polyesters and paper.
AssetPulse offers different types of RFID tags that are being used in a wide range of use cases in various industries. RFID tags differ based on the size, form factor, read range, ruggedness, tolerance to certain environmental conditions, and aesthetics. Therefore, it is essential to choose the right type of RFID tag that meets the requirement and yields the best results.
Types of RFID Tags
AssetPulse offers a wide range of RFID tags including Active and Passive RFID tags.
Label and Inlay RFID tags are thin, flexible, weigh less than a gram, vary from less than an inch to several inches and are cost-effective. The difference between these two types of tags is inlay tags are clear and they are manufactured with or without adhesive whereas label tags have a paper or polyplastic face on which graphics or text can be printed to read clearly.
Hard RFID tags are rigid and thick, and are more expensive than label and inlay RFID tags. They are made up of ceramic, ABS, steel, polycarbonate, polypropylene and polystyrene. These tags vary in weight ranging from 0.2 grams to over 250 grams. The size varies ranging from the size of a pencil eraser to a license plate.
RFID Tag Positioning
With over 17 years experience in deploying RFID Tracking solutions in various environmental conditions for different industries across the world, AssetPulse provides some of the best practices in RFID tagging, positioning and tag attachment.
Positioning of RFID tags plays a vital role in getting the desired results. The positioning is based on size, orientation, angle and placement.
The size of the tag is important because it should fit the asset / item that is being tagged and the read range depends on the tag size. A larger tag will have a longer read range than the tag that is smaller.
RFID tags positioned vertically or horizontally near the antenna is critical in achieving the best read rates. The tags need to be tested in different orientations before finalizing the one that yields the best results.
The angle of the RFID tag determines the read range. If the angle is steep, the read range will be less. Even the slightest change in the angle can affect the read range of the tags. To get the best read range, ensure that the front part of the RFID tag faces the antenna and place an array of antennas to cover the multiple angles of the tags.
Test the placement of tags facing the antenna/reader to find the best spot that yields the best results.
Methods to Attach RFID Tags
Label and Inlay tags can be attached using adhesives. However, tag attachment methods differ for hard tags based on the tag size, type, weight, application and application environment. Choosing the tag attachment method is as important as choosing the tag type because if the tag is not secured to the asset, then the asset cannot be tracked and becomes untraceable.
Factors to Consider for Tag Attachment
Ensure that the surface of the asset is smooth, dust and water free, clean and prepped before attaching the tag.
Special attachment methods are required to get the best results if the RFID tags are exposed to prolonged moisture, chemicals, vibration, pressure or UV light.
Temperature plays a crucial role in attaching RFID tags because the material used to attach tags might melt or disintegrate under extreme temperature. Therefore, ensure that the attachment method is tested in your tagging environment.
Attachment methods might slowly degrade over time. Therefore, ensure that the chosen RF asset tag and attachment method lasts the life of the asset.
RFID Tags with Special Features
AssetPulse provides RFID tags that are suitable for all types of applications and environments with the following features:
- RFID tags that can withstand extreme cold and high temperatures.
- Metal-mountable RFID tags for on-metal applications.
- Printable tags - Labels and Inlays to identify tags visually.
- Embeddable tags - RF asset tags that can be embedded within the assets that are used in rugged applications/conditions. It ensures that the tag is secured to the asset and prevents falling off.
- RFID tags that can withstand shock, vibration, high-intensity motion and impact from other objects in rugged environments.
- Customizable tags - Customize tags with color, graphics, text, size, form factor, material type, adhesive type based on the requirements.
- Autoclavable tags to withstand the rigorous sterilization process.
- UV resistant tags to withstand constant exposure to UV waves.
- Chemical resistant tags to prevent tags from getting corroded or damaged because of exposure to chemicals.