Every day new technologies emerge to assist companies in various sectors, as well as their consumers. Among them, the RFID tag stands out, especially when the RFID tag is used for inventory control.
Identifying products to control inventory is a recurrent and common activity, whether in shops or in factories. In other words, companies in the retail, consumer goods, or service provider business with a focus on development, purchasing, and distribution need to have effective inventory control.
Thus, to assist in inventory management, new technologies have emerged, and among them is the use of RFID tags for inventory control. These are increasingly replacing barcodes and QR codes.
However, it is not only for these business segments that the RFID tag is used. This new technology is employed in transportation, tolls, and robotic and space institutions.
RFID tags for inventory control are part of the radio frequency identification system, also called RFID system. This system, which is composed of tags, antennas, and readers, uses electromagnetic waves. And this with the aim of accessing all the data stored on a chip.
Thus, the RFID system is about identifying products and services quickly and easily by reading and transmitting information. With this technology, companies can track their products and integrate the data with other platforms.
Learn more about RFID tags, how this technology works, and their importance and help in the logistics of companies. Therefore, see the importance of the RFID tag for inventory control.
What is RFID technology?
RFID ( Radio Frequency Identification) technology is responsible for transmitting information by radio frequency.
This technology has its origins in World War II, and the mid-1940s. Several nations, such as Germany, the United States, Japan, and England, used radar systems to help identify approaching aircraft. In addition, this technology contributed to radio communication.
Over time, the RFID system has kept up with technological developments and thus evolved as well.
In this way, RFID has become popular and is increasingly used in various segments. All this because of its ease and long-distance reading capability, which culminates in cost reduction and waste reduction.
What are the main building blocks of an RFID system?
With RFID technology, business and asset productivity and profitability increase. Besides these aspects, the main characteristic of the RFID system is its structure:
- An antenna responsible for transmitting the information to the reader, by means of an integrated circuit;
- A reader or transceiver that receives data from the antenna and converts it into radio waves;
- RFID tag or tag that contains the circuit and the information that needs to be transmitted and analyzed.
In other words, for the RFID system to fulfill its function of transmitting data and information, all this equipment is essential. However, it is on the RFID tag that the data is stored, so the RFID tag for inventory control is essential.
What is the RFID tag?
RFID tags are responsible for containing the important and essential information about an item. Thus, these labels are applied to various objects, machines, packaging, or even living beings.
It is through these tags that remote data that impact the process chain is stored and retrieved. After all, an RFID tag will emit a signal that has information about an asset for interested parties to access.
How does RFID work in a warehousing system?
The RFID tag is part of the process between company, product, and customer and is important from the moment it is printed.
With this process, the RFID tag for inventory control has become a reality for companies in their logistics. For, this label is present on the product from stock to delivery to the end customer.
At first, when the product is shipped, RFID tags are printed with their information and placed on the boxes of these items.
When the product is sold, the boxes with them leave the factories and go to the warehouse, where the RFID tags are read to identify and release the products into the system.
It is the RFID readers that read the labels, still in the warehouse, and perform activities involving the RFID label for inventory control such as tracking inventories and issuing the product.
When it leaves the warehouse, with its RFID tag already read, the lots go to the distribution center, and from there it is separated to go to the customer.
Thus, the company can track this entire cycle and manage its inventory and processes until delivery to the end customer, RFID tags. And customers can also follow the product’s path to delivery through the information that the labels make available.
How do RFID tags work?
RFID tags are also known as a smart tag. Therefore, a smart tag is a device that companies introduce into items and living things to identify them and assign information. Thus, the main function is the RFID tag for inventory control.
However, there are smart labels for purposes other than inventory management. The purpose of these is to let the customer know the location of the object he wants, especially if this item is close by.
Therefore, smart tags are the main element of the RFID system as it is responsible for receiving, transmitting, and responding to transmissions.
What is the technology used in RFID tags?
The two most commonly used technologies in RFIS tags are the microchip and the EPC format. So its basic structure is to have a microchip that emits radio frequency waves, which the RFID antennas read. In addition to storing your data in EPC format technology.
It is on this microchip in RFID tags that information about a product is stored. Among them are:
- Product Name;
- Expiration Date;
- Serial number;
- Company Name;
- Other pertinent information about the item.
In addition to its storage capacity, the microchip also makes it possible to respond to the radio frequency signal with the information that is on it.
RFID tags store data in EPC format, Electronic Product Code. This technology was created by the Auto-ID Center to be a successor to the bar code. Thus, EPC is a low-cost method of tracking goods using RFID technology.
Like the bar code, the EPC has a numeric system capable of identifying products. But it has a much greater capability than its predecessor in adding specific information, such as product origin and destination.
So the EPC stores itself in an RFID tag to transmit the information the moment a reader checks the tag. Therefore, the EPC ends up maximizing RFID technology and promoting benefits that were unattainable with barcodes.
The benefits of EPC for clients and companies
EPC helps companies improve their efficiency and also benefit AP customers by ensuring and delivering products, speed, and quality.
As far as customers are concerned, RFID tags do not allow counterfeit goods to be delivered to them. Because consumers can monitor and track their products from purchase.
For companies, meanwhile, this technology helps with process transformation to improve efficiency, and RFID tags are used for inventory control. For, with visibility into the process chain and its products, companies avoid loss of value due to theft, loss, or shortage of inventory. After all, EPC helps companies monitor inventory and better manage new product requests.
RFID tags for supermarkets
There are many supermarkets around Brazil and around the world, be they large, medium, or small.
Thus, because of the competitiveness among companies in this sector, supermarkets need to make good use and take advantage of technology more and more. And this to be able to survive and remain in such a competitive market.
Therefore, a technological strategy that supermarket chains started in the United States and reached Brazil is the RFID tag for retail inventory control. In other words, applying RFID tags to products and market items enhances the company’s competitive strategy.
What do RFID tags provide for supermarkets?
RFID tags, besides controlling and managing the supply chain, aim to reduce queues and other common inconveniences at the cash registers of markets.
In addition, they also assist customers with a shopping cart that has monitors. These show the offers of the day and what products the customer is buying.
This is why RFID tags for supermarkets also work as RFID tags for inventory control.
It is through them that the supermarket manager will be able to control the movement of stock and merchants. With this you will have pertinent information and reports about how many and which products you need to buy from the supplier. So that no product is missing and no money is spent on products that there is no need to buy at the moment.
Using RFID tags for supermarkets and aiming to be RFID tags for stock control creates efficiency and good relationship with suppliers and customers. In order to bring the supermarket closer to both.
In addition, the supermarket is able to create a database that shows his entire shopping history. In order to present all the products and which ones need more attention. This culminates in customer loyalty and competitive prices.
Amazon Go: Example of RFID tags in supermarkets
Amazon Go is a physical store of the massive Amazon online store. However, this supermarket differs from the others in that there are no cash registers and no lines.
To do this, the customer needs to have the Amazon Go app, choose their products, pick them up in the store, and pay via the app itself.
Thus, RFID tags can detect the moment when customers remove or return items from the market to the shelves. In addition to tracking these products in the customer’s virtual cart.
All products have RFID tags for stock control and to ensure the sale to the customer. It is on this label that will have all the product data and information, and that will monitor the sale through the person’s mobile device.
What is an active RFID tag?
RFID tags are divided according to their frequency and their energization. According to the energization, they are classified as passive and active.
Active RFID tags are those that have their own source of energy. In other words, this tag has an internal battery that enables long read intervals and large memory spaces. In addition, the active tags use two main frequencies, 433 MHz and 915 MHz.
Passive RFID tags, on the other hand, have no interactive power source, as they use the reader’s radio frequency to power themselves. And all this to be able to convey the information that is in it. Also, these RFID tags are reusable and acquire new information.
Any of these labels have advantages in their use. For, either works with considerable distance between them and the readers. So that no contact or visual field is required for this reading to happen.
Furthermore, it is possible to read RFID tags through various materials and substances, such as water, metal, wood, and plastics.
What is the difference between active RFID tags and passive RFID tags?
Active RFID tags are read and write oriented, and are powered by an internal battery. Therefore, because it is a writable label, this means that the information it contains can be changed, rewritten, and written to as the company needs.
In addition, these RFID tags have a longer read range, so that they can exceed a distance of up to ten meters from the reader. However, because of its functionality it tends to be larger and more expensive than the passive tag.
The passive RFID tag does not have an internal battery, like the active one. Thus, this RFID tag is only activated by an electromagnetic field that the reader emits. Also, its range is smaller, which makes the reader have to be more powerful.
In contrast to active tags, passive tags are cheaper, smaller, and simpler to use. However, both can be used as RFID tags for inventory control.
How much does an RFID tag cost?
To invest in a complete RFID system, the entrepreneur needs to consider the hardware, software, and the tag.
The hardware part encompasses the materials that will read the information from the labels and their infrastructure. That is, antennas, readers, wi-fi, portals, and the entire physical infrastructure. The software, on the other hand, are the systems, with the reader and collector licenses and the integrations with the current data collection systems.
Thus, what will most impact the total value of implementing an RFID system are the tags. This is because there are numerous types of RFID tags, with many variations in materials, memory, rating, and frequency.
On average, in the United States, an RFID tag costs 25 cents, but that is when you buy more than a million of them. In Brazil, when a company buys this quantity, the price varies between 80 cents and 1 dollar per label.
However, the total price will encompass all other items of the RFID system and their installation. In addition to the type of RFID tag chosen.
What are the types of RFID tags?
RFID tags can have various uses, so they are also differentiated according to their use:
- Use in lots or boxes: These can be of various shapes and materials, but the environment must be considered. In addition, this type of RFID tag is recommended when product identification and traceability is of utmost importance;
- Printed on sticker: This type of RFID tag is when the supplier prints it and puts it on the package that is sent to the customer. In this way, both the customer and the shopkeeper will have details of the product;
- Use in textiles: There are some RFID tags that are attached to the products and these help the process from their manufacture in the factory to the storekeeper’s count;
- Access cards: Finally, this type of RFID tags is intended to control the access of people and vehicles in parking lots and companies. Whether with locks, biometric readings, turnstiles, or gates.
What is the size of RFID tags?
The size of RFID tags can vary, but in general they are a small object. Only their shapes and sizes vary according to the purpose and type of these tags.
RFID tags for animal identification tend to be very small, with a size range of 3mm in diameter and 10mm in length. For access control, these labels are the size of a card, more than 2 inches high.
The smallest RFID tag that exists was developed in 2007 by the company Hitachi. This tag was called “powdery type” by the researchers, and this because it has a size of 0.4 millimeters in diameter and length.
Is the use of RFID tags an advantage?
Using RFID tags brings benefits not only to companies, but also to customers. After all, with these tags, managers can manage their logistics chain, control documents and access, and industrial assembly lines.
Also, RFID tags allow animal identification and traceability of all products, from their origin to their final delivery.