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In Automatic Data Capture Systems, there are a wide range of solutions available. The challenge is knowing how to purchase and implement the most cost-effective data capture solution to fit your application and to know that the chosen technology will seamlessly integrate with existing systems and deliver optimum results.
RFID systems can be divided into a number of categories: Active or Passive; and, Read Only or Read/Write. The system generally consists of two units, an RF reader (Radio Frequency scanner) and an electronic transponder (tag). Communication between the RF reader and transponder can be bi-directional. The RF reader emits a radio frequency (RF) field. As the transponder moves into this field, the transponder modulates this received signal in accordance with its identification or programmed code and transmits or reflects an RF signal. The modulation is in turn picked up by the reader, which decodes the information contained in the transponder and depending upon the reader’s configuration, it either stores the information, acts upon it, or transmits the information to the host computer via the communications port.
RFID technology is used to provide automatic capturing information from an electronic transponder. A transponder can be fixed to or embedded into a wide range of objects (e.g. cars, pallets, bins, personnel, animals and so on). The technology is ideally suited to applications where for various reasons bar code systems will not work reliably. These applications typically involve; dirty or hostile environments, (line of sight is not required for RFID), high speed (RFID Systems can work in excess of 200Kph) or a need to read the identification code the first time, (often Bar Codes need to be presented a number of times to gain a valid read). Benefits gained by adopting RFID into industrial applications are often found through the long read range that an RFID system can deliver, and its ability to operate in harsh environments, where dirt, dust and moisture conditions can affect other types of automatic data capture systems. The read range from RFID Systems can vary from as little as 10 centimeters up to 50 meters, and the functionality of the systems can vary from a simple read only system through to an intelligent programmable tracking system.
When considering an RFID system there are many things that need to be considered including frequency of operation and environmental factors. Many of these require a detailed knowledge of the options available in order to make an informed decision, but a number relate to site issues and requirements.
AdvanTech, Inc. has implemented RFID Item level tagging and issuing at both Lackland Air Force Clothing Initial Issue Facility and Ft. Carson Central Issue Facility. RFID tags are attached to each item when they are placed on the shelf. RFID Checkout counters read the RFID Tags of the items issued to the Soldier in 4-6 Seconds. The issue data is then used to update the Soldier's clothing record. Planning is now in process to have manufacturers place the RFID tags on the items during the manufacturing process.