Radio Frequency identification or RFID makes use of electromagnetic and electrostatic coupling in the portion of Radio Frequency electromagnetic spectrum used in uniquely identifying an object. This technology makes use of the electromagnetic fields in identifying and tracking the tags attached to the objects (Finkenzeller, 2010). The report discusses the working principal of the RFID technology and explains the business and technical problems associated with this technology. The limitations, problems and the prospects of success in the market place are discussed in the following paragraphs.
How the technology works?
RFID or radio frequency identification is a technology that is capable of reading the digital data encoded in the different RFID tags. The working principal of RFID is similar to that of barcoding but offers several other advantages one of which is that an RFID tag can be read even outside the line of sight or through a large distance (Zhu, Mukhopadhyay & Kurata, 2012).
RFID utilizes radio waves to identify the objects automatically and to collect data about them. This data can be directly entered into computer systems without any human intervention and therefore, this technology is most widely used.
The main components of an RFID include an RFID tag or label, an RFID reader and an antenna. The tags used in radio frequency identification consist of integrated circuit and an antenna that are used to for transmitting data to the receiver or the reader. The reader is then responsible for converting the radio waves into a usable form of data. The information, which are collected from the tags are generally transferred with the help of an interface that facilitates communication to a host computer for data storage and analysis of the data (Lehpamer, 2012).
The tag chip illustrated in the image of figure1 identifies the host item. It powers themselves from a connectivity device’s radio waves and are readable up to a range of 30 feet. This chip is generally preprogrammed with a tag identifier. This tag identifier consists of a unique serial number that is generally assigned by the chip manufacturer. Different tag antennas are used to collect energy, which is channelized to the chip in order to turn it on. The tag readers and antennas of RFID work together in reading tags (Ertl et al., 2013). The antennas are responsible for converting the electrical current into electromagnetic waves. These electromagnetic waves are then radiated into space, and are received by a tag antenna that converts it back to electrical current. This is how the RFID technology helps in identifying objects with RFID tags.
The business or technical problem, RFID solves
The major problem that the implementation of RFID solves is the improvement of accuracy in locating inventory, which further helps in reducing the costs and increasing the sales. This provides an ample benefit from the business point of view. RFID integrated tags replaces the traditional hand tags that helps in locating or keeping a track of the objects more easily. The benefit of RFID is that it increases the store inventory accuracy and reduces the number of out of stock products that helps in increasing the sales.
From a technical point of view, RFID removes the need of human intervention for tag detection that considerably reduces the employment costs and human errors, which is beneficial for business point of view as well. Furthermore, since there is no line of sight is required in RID technologies, the phenomenon of tag placement is less constrained (Zhong et al., 2015).
It further provides added benefits over traditional barcodes as it generally has a longer read range. The read/ write memory capability further removes the need of barcode. Technically it can store a large amounts of data along with a unique identifier that completely removes the need of the traditional tags or barcodes.
The technical problem of generic identification of the items is solved by RFID technology. It can be further combined with sensors and automatic reading that reduces the time lags and inaccuracies or errors in an inventory. RFID tags are therefore designed for meeting all these business requirements and constraints.
The comparison of QRCODE and RFID are elaborated in the following table-
· QR Codes are similar to barcodes that contains information, which can be read by QR reader.
· QR codes can be scanned by a camera equipped device including smartphones. Therefore, it does not require much technical knowledge (Barrera, Mira & Torroba, 2013)
· QRCODES is substantially cheaper and can be implemented easily.
· A QR code does not need access to database unlike RFID, in order to decode a relevant information.
· Radio frequency identification or RFID makes use of electromagnetic waves to locate and read data stored in the RFID tags.
· RFID requires more technological knowledge and hand holding than QRCODES.
· RFID however requires special RFID chips for transmitting a relevant code.
· RFID further requires specialized equipment as it involves an expensive piece of scanning equipment for scanning and decoding the RFID tags (Dwivedi et al., 2013).
Limitations of RFID Technology
The major limitations of the RFID technology are listed below (Exp?sito & Cui?as, 2013)-
- The cost of an RFID tag is although very little, considerably a large investment is required to implement this technology, that does not pay off always. The major functionality of RFID is tagging and tracking, but since the cost of implementation of the system is huge, it is not an economically viable option for tagging or tracking any low value goods.
- The process of reading multiple RFID tags simultaneously is not an easy task. Signals from different tags may collide in process thus interfering with other signals. However, there are certain techniques for detangling such signals but implementation of those techniques further increases the operation costs of RFID and therefore, these techniques are not considered as a feasible option.
- Another major limitation of RFID technology is that there is no particular RFID standard and the technology of smart tag is needed to be perfected as well.
- Physical limitations of reading through liquid or metal adds to another major concern of RFID technology.
The problems that are created in association with the limitations discussed above includes increase in the operational cost instead of reducing the cost of using the traditional tags. Another problem associated with the RFID is maintain the security and privacy of the operations. The possible solutions to this includes authentication and cryptography. Tag relabeling is a technique of relabeling the unique identifier of a tag with a new unique identifier. This eliminates the unauthorized uses of any objects. The issue arises as the RFID tags has even the potential for tracking consumers without their consent and knowledge. This counts to the personal privacy threats, where an individual’s behavior is inferred by monitoring the group of tags. Therefore, different security measures such as encryption, tag password, blocker tags and so on can be used as a possible solution to these problems.
An organization’s implementation of RFID Technology
SGH Pharmacy in Singapore uses RFID technology to increase the operational efficiency and to enhance the medication safety. With the implementation of this technology, the work of the pharmacist became even more easier. The pharmacist only needs to turn around to pick up the baskets. The basket will contain the right medications for dispensing to the patients. The implementation of the RFID technology has made it possible to eliminate the human errors that are associated with the packing processes of the organization that were previously relied on manual resources. When the RFID system was not implemented in the organization, the packing and assembling of the prescription medications proved to be labor intensive and time consuming (Yao et al., 2012). With the implementation of the new RFID system in the organization, the pharmacy technicians are guided by the RFID enabled drug bin to the correct drug bin, which improves the efficiency of the packing process of the medicines. Thus implementation of RFID in SGH has considerably helped in increasing the efficiency of the work in the organization along with the reduction of human errors.
The system needs the patients to present the prescription at a registered counter to be reviewed by the pharmacist. The prescription after review is placed in a basket incorporated with RFID tags, which is in turn placed on a conveyor belt for triggering the process of packing the medicines. The medications are then packed through LED guided pick. The RFID readers strategically locates the real time tracking and manages the operations more effectively (Xia et al., 2012).
RFID Technology Success in the Marketplace
RFID technology has enormous benefits but the potential of RFID is not realized fully by the end users. Nevertheless, this technology has brought a revolution in the market of supply chain management. RFID not only replaced the usage of bar codes from the marketplace, but also ensures that the right goods are available in their place reducing the human error to Zero. With the advent of RFID, the supply chain management becomes more precise, which in turn increases the efficiency and reliability of the entire supply chain (Zhu, Mukhopadhyay & Kurata, 2012).
One of the fastest moving market in the world is the market of fast moving consumer goods. The use of RFID tags is wide spread in these industries as the use of the RFID tags and readers, a large number of products can be counted in seconds. This reduces the manual labor to a considerable amount. This is possible as the RFID tags can be scanned automatically without being in the line of sight. Furthermore, The RFID tags are capable of storing more information than barcode and therefore its use is widespread in the marketplace. To sum up, use of RFID in FMCGs is widespread as it helps in reducing the manual labor, helps in cost cutting, improves the visibility of goods, which in turn improves the business planning and strategies.
The use of RFID is widespread in warehouse management as well. This is because, keeping a track of large number of cartons is very complex and time consuming. With the use of RFID, keeping a track of the large number of materials in the warehouse becomes easier as well. Therefore, it can be said that the success rate of RFID is tremendous in different business sector and marketplace (Hutter & Schmidt, 2013).
Therefore, from the above discussion it can be concluded that RFID technology has a varied use in different business and is mainly used for tracking and tagging of the objects. The report discusses the working principal of the RFID technology in brief and identifies the technology’s limitation as well. The report concludes with the assessment of RFID technology’s prospects and its success in the marketplace.
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