As technology continues to permeate every aspect of society, it often comes packaged with a subtle yet insistent message: that all technological advancement is good.
But what if it isn’t? Should you trust your company to a system that has yet to settle into a widely accepted standard, has proven to be inconsistent, and often doesn’t operate as advertised?
For this reason, a closer look at RFID technology is justified, especially if you’re considering deploying it for asset tracking and control.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags originated around the end of the Second World War. However, the history of RFID development is complicated, and no single person is considered to have invented the technology.
RFID tags fall into either active or passive categories. Active RFID tags use a small battery for power, while passive RFID tags use the radio energy itself, both for power and communication.
There are three categories of RFID tags that can be either active or passive:
LF tags are typically used to track livestock or to open gates and doors. They must be in very close proximity to the reader to function.
HF tags are used for things like tickets, payments, and moderate amounts of data transfer, but they suffer a slight sensitivity to radio interference.
Finally, UHF tags can work from up to around 15 feet away. The downside is that they are extremely sensitive to interference.
RFID proponents usually assert that automation can save time and money or reduce errors in reporting. But it’s not so simple.
The idea behind RFID technology was sound: to enable real-time asset or inventory tracking within an operations envelope (e.g., in a warehouse or retail space, or perhaps as cattle transitioned from one paddock to another). And while these benefits are compelling, in practice, they have turned out to be mostly theoretical.
RFID suffers a fatal flaw: interference. The idea was always to enable a reader to scan a subset of assets or inventory, read every RFID tag in that zone, get a perfect count, and move on.
Unfortunately for RFID technology, not every tag responds when it is instructed to do so. These failures often stem from proximity issues or radio interference.
Suppose that a warehouse worker carries their smartphone, which is a radio device, into a zone currently being scanned. This commonplace situation could lead to inaccurate readings, which means that RFID readers cannot always be trusted.
Additionally, not all RFID tags are created equal. Several enterprise-level companies have created proprietary RFID systems, which means they don’t work well together.
If one company finds a great way to track and control its assets with RFID, that same method should be simple and clear enough to work for everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
The problem is that a consensus for protocols has not been established. Those who rely on flawed RFID technology should be in search of a better and simpler way. As it turns out, this better and simpler way has been around just as long as RFID, but it has leveraged technology and integrated it far more effectively.
Imagine how precise your counts would be if your reader could more accurately sense each piece in a zone — because it had to. Imagine how perfect your real-time asset picture would be if you didn’t have to wonder about whether each item was within range to be checked when a query was issued.
Metalphoto® anodized aluminum asset tags have a sub-surface, inorganic image embedded in a permanently affixed aluminum plate that bears bar codes, QR codes, and more to allow you to accurately track every asset precisely. Metalphoto® asset tags are MIL-STD-130 and MIL-STD-129 compliant, anti-counterfeit, and work with any smartphone or barcode scanner.
You can even track the location of both your asset and the scanner at every point in the supply chain where you need to know its location and status.
Although it’s popular in many industries, RFID technology can be inaccurate and susceptible to hacking. With Metalphoto® asset tags and labels, you won’t have mis-scanned items. This technology is not hackable because it is completely analog.
So many business leaders have doubts about RFID technology. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps refuses to use it. It makes sense to entrust the total security of your assets to an established, secure, and reliable technology: Metalphoto®.