Keep Track of Fish Crates with RFID

Keep Track of Fish Crates with RFID
The Food Traceability and Asset Management solutions from Lyngsoe Systems met substantial interest from the Scandinavian market at the ScanPack2006 / RFID Expo exhibition in Gothenburg, October 24-27.

Especially the live demonstration of our solution for fish crates with RFID tags generated interest from the Nordic FoodSector. The Danish consortium of fishing association Pack & Sea is already implementing the Fish Crate solution with great expectations. And with the interest shown at ScanPack it is our hope that the Asset Management and Food Traceability solutions will help the Nordic fishing industry with streamlined efficiency and improved quality of service.

Using RFID tag the Fish Crate solution creates a real-time overview of the stock of fish crates in different parts of the supply chain as well as providing documentation about the location. It is thus possible to reduce overstocking of fish crates to actual need and reduce number of lost crates.

Not only can the fishing industry benefit from the Asset Management and Food Traceability solutions from Lyngsoe Systems. All industries employing returnable assets as well as the entire food industry can employ the solutions enhancing the entire supply chain. E.g. tracking fish crates automatically and knowing when handovers are taking place can eliminate a 5-7% annual loss rate.

RFID Technology for Warehouse and Distribution Operations

Introduction
Interest in using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in warehouse and distribution operations is at an all-time high. Wireless identification and tracking with RFID represents a new way to conduct operations, which creates new benefits and challenges. Users need to understand RFIDs capabilities and limitations to accurately assess the impact it can have on their business.

This white paper provides an overview of RFID technology and how it may be applied to warehousing and distribution operations. It will describe the technology and its maturity, standards and industry initiatives, and will also provide examples of how RFID technology can be best used in warehouses and distribution centers.

Overview
You’ve probably heard the acronym “RFID,” which stands for radio frequency identification.You may know that RFID tags can contain unique information that identifies whatever they are attached to, and can share that information wirelessly with computer databases and networks so items can be tracked efficiently.

What you may not know is how far the technology has come and what is being developed right now that could help your warehouse or distribution center.To help decide if RFID would be beneficial, consider if any of the following statements apply to your business:

Processing speed is essential or could provide a competitive advantage;
We deal in high-value assets that need to be protected;
A bar code cannot physically survive our processes;
Areas of our facilities need to be protected from unauthorized access;
We need more unique information on each item than a bar code can contain;
We are highly automated and need to minimize human intervention;
We could benefit by knowing where products are at all times in the supply chain, in real time.
If any of these statements apply to your business, RFID should be given serious consideration in your system design.

EPC RFID Gen 2 Label for supply chain management

EPC RFID Gen 2 Label for supply chain management
OPRFDID RFID has released EPC RFID Gen 2 Label, which operates at the frequency from 860MHz to 960MHz. It is designed as a cost-effective RFID Label to increase the productivity in supply chain management process.

Compliance with the global protocol of EPC Gen 2, the UHF Label provides increased levels of product and asset visibility for the supply chain operations. According to OPRFID RFID, use of the UHF RFID Label allows for quick identification. And all the information can be seen clearly from the host computer, such as the lead time requirements and location of the commodities.

The UHF RFID Label is said to be water and dust proof as well as being resistant to immersion in salt water, alcohol and oil, etc.

OPRFID RFID comments that with a storage capability of 1K or 4K to record information, the EPC Class 1 RFID Gen 2 Label is an effective choice for supply chain management. The EPC RFID Gen 2 Label can also reportedly be applied to a wide range of other fields; such as document tracking, parcel tracking and asset tracking.

Using RFID to improve the customer experience

Using RFID to improve the customer experience
Dissatisfied and unengaged customers are an unfortunate part of the retail industry. Poor customer service can result in the possible loss of a sale or diminished brand loyalty. However, what is poor customer service actually costing your business?

Research from NewVoiceMedia found that on average UK businesses are losing £12 billion a year due to bad customer service. The study also found that 93 per cent of respondents have abandoned a business because of the service they experienced; with an additional third of 16 to 24 year-olds taking to social media to vent their frustration at poor service.

With the customer experience at the forefront of most retailer’s minds, many have adopted strategies to enable them to better support their customers and improve their overall experience. Social media has played a significant role in this with most of the biggest retailers dedicating accounts to answering customer questions, requests and addressing their complaints. However, there is a way that retailers can address the customer experience on the shop floor level to minimise the influx of angry Tweets after they have left the store.

Since RFID’s introduction into the retail sector, the benefits have been apparent as it has caused widespread changes across various processes in the industry. By utilising this technology in the most optimum way, retailers can ensure they are creating a new operational benchmark, setting themselves apart from the status quo, by taking advantage of a number of innovations, including item-level inventory management that insures meeting availability and delivery commitments to customers. It will also help the retailer by increasing sales, reducing bloated inventory and enabling effective omnichannel models.

Furthermore, RFID technology can reduce the time employees actually spend taking inventory and managing out of stocks, while increasing inventory accuracy up to 99%. This is where the improved customer service can begin to be explored on the shop floor.

For any retailer, managing stock is not an easy task. However it is at the core of whether customers are satisfied or not. With the use of RFID, this process becomes a whole lot easier. By placing RFID tags on products, retailers can accurately know what is in stock and in which shop, allowing them to track their merchandise with more accuracy and economy.

Some of the biggest retailers around the world are currently utilising this strategy to improve their customer experience. By using the RFID tags to keep track of stock, retail staff can provide a more efficient customer experience because they know exactly where the product is and how many they have in stock, thus being able to help service customers with speed and confidence.

Modern customers now want a seamless omnichannel experience meaning that when they order a product online they want to be able to have a guaranteed fast option to receive that product in their hands. Either shipped to them quickly or by picking it up in the store that same day. Out of stocks and poor inventory management can be a prominent challenge for this which in turn could have a negative impact on the customer’s overall experience. However, RFID simplifies the process to make the omnichannel experience more efficient and smooth.

Once RFID for inventory management is implemented, retailers are using “magic mirror” technologies to engage with customers more effectively. A growing number of these retailers that have adopted RFID are using these customer experience portals to help automate assistance from associates in the store as well as automatically present differentiated product information as items are presented to the mirror.

Whilst a lot of retailers have already implemented RFID to improve the accuracy of their inventory, there are other applications that RFID technology can be applied to. For example, RFID tags can be inserted into wristbands which, once loaded with money, can allow wristband payment making a transaction more immediate.

Currently this method is popular at amusement parks, events and festivals as it means that people don’t need to carry their wallets around and risk losing or having them stolen. However, there is no reason why retailers couldn’t adopt this technology in the future to reduce spending time for their customers. Afterall it is reported to take on average of just 0.5 seconds to complete a transaction.

When RFID technology was first introduced in the 1970s it failed to integrate itself into mainstream businesses, largely due to its high costs. However, in recent years the price has significantly dropped as more and more businesses recognise the value it offers- greater inventory accuracy, reduction of out-of-stocks and an efficient omnichannel experience. If implemented correctly, retailers could see the ROI in matter of months as RFID technology further establishes itself at the forefront of retail evolution.

NFC technology device types

NFC technology device types
The NFC near field communication standard defines two types of NFC device. These are known as the Initiator and Target of the communication. As the names imply, the initiator is the device that initiates the communication and it controls the data exchanges. The Target device is the one that responds to the requests from the Initiator.

The NFC near field communication standard defines two different modes of operation:
* Active mode of communication: In the active NFC mode of communication, both devices generate an RF signal on which the data is carried.
* Passive mode of communication: In this mode of communication, only one NFC device generates an RF field. The second passive device which is the target uses a technique called load modulation to transfer the data back to the primary device or initiator.

In addition to the NFC modes of operation, three communication modes are also defined:
* Read / Write: This mode of operation within NFC near field communication allows applications to transfer data in an NFC Forum-defined message format. It should be noted that this mode is not secure. It is also necessary to note that this mode is supported the Contactless Communication API
NFC card emulation: This NFC mo enables the NFC device to behave as a standard Smart card. In this mode, data transfer is secure and the mode is also supported by the Contactless Communication API.
* Peer to peer: A third mode within NFC is the peer to peer mode which supports device to device link-level communication. It is worth noting that this mode of NFC communication is not supported by the Contactless Communication API.

NFC technology RF interface

NFC technology RF interface
NFC near field communication is a wire-less technology, using radio frequencies. It operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz within the globally available and unregulated 13.56 MHz frequency band. As a result no licenses are required for operation on these frequencies.

In addition to this the radio transmissions using NFC are half duplex as the same channel is used for both transmit and receive. Also to prevent two devices transmitting together, they operate what is termed a listen before talk protocol. The devices may only transmit if they previously listen to check that no other devices are transmitting. In view of the short ranges involved, the protocol used by NFC need not be as comprehensive as that used for other wireless protocols.

Connection is made between two NFC devices when they are brought together so there is no difficulty in associating two devices. This occurs when the two devices are brought to less than about 4 centimetres of one another, although actual distances will depend upon a variety of factors, and figures of 20 centimetres for the maximum communications distance have been seen. In this way a simple wave or touch can establish an NFC connection. Because the transmission range is so short, NFC-enabled transactions are inherently secure.

To provide the standard interfaces, the underlying layers of NFC technology follow the normal ISO standards.

NFC tag design and manufacture

NFC tag design and manufacture
There are many design and manufacturing considerations to be taken into account for NFC tags. They are intended to be manufactured for very low cost in very large quantities, while maintaining their performance. There are a number of key performance parameters and elements that need to be considered when designing an NFC tag.

Read speed: This issue is important because it is necessary for the NFC tag to be able to pass all its data over while the two NFC devices are within range. If the NFC tag can only transfer data at a slow rate then there is a real danger that all the data may not be transferred in time resulting in a poor level of reliability.. In turn this will affect the user and the user, who not understanding the technology will easily be turned off from using the system if they have to keep re-trying to successfully transfer the data. NFC tag type 1 allows all the data to be transferred in one block which enables the read performance of the tag to be maintained.
Die size: The die size is of particular importance in the design of an NFC tag. A smaller die, results in lower cost and also the in the NFC tag being less obtrusive – an important factor for tags used in posters, etc. Smaller memory sizes naturally lend themselves to smaller die sizes.
Unit price: The unit price of the NFC is a very important factor in their design as many NFC tags will be aimed for very low cost applications such as smart posters. Here cost is of great importance. The cost of the tag is influenced by a number of factors. These include factors such as the memory size and general IC complexity resulting from additional features that need to be included, By keeping the memory and features as simple as possible the cost can be kept down.
With manufacture of NFC tags likely to run into billions when the system fully takes off, the design of tags will need to be undertaken very carefully so that the correct balance of cost and performance can be obtained.

NFC tag type definitions

NFC tag type definitions
There are four basic tag types that have been defined. These are given designations 1 to 4 and each has a different format and capacity. These NFC tag type formats are based on ISO 14443 Types A and B which is the international standard for contact-less smartcards) and Sony FeliCa which conforms to ISO 18092, the passive communication mode, standard).

The advantage of keeping the NFC tags as simple as possible is that they may be deemed to be disposable in many instances, often embedded in posters that may only have a short life, etc.

The different NFC tag type definitions are as follows:
Tag 1 Type: The Tag 1 Type is based on the ISO14443A standard. These NFC tags are read and re-write capable and users can configure the tag to become read-only. Memory availability is 96 bytes which is more than sufficient to store a website URL or other small amount of data. However the memory size is expandable up to 2 kbyte. The communication speed of this NFC tag is 106 kbit/s. As a result of its simplicity this tag type is cost effective and ideal for many NFC applications.
Tag 2 Type: The NFC Tag 2 Type is also based on ISO14443A. These NFC tags are read and re-write capable and users can configure the tag to become read-only. The basic memory size of this tag type is only 48 bytes although this can be expanded to 2 kbyte. Again the communication speed is 106 kbit/s.
Tag 3 Type: The NFC Tag 3 Type is based on the Sony FeliCa system. It currently has a 2 kbyte memory capacity and the data communications speed is 212 kbit/s. Accordingly this NFC tag type is more applicable for more complex applications, although there is a higher cost per tag.
Tag 4 Type: The NFC Tag 4 Type is defined to be compatible with ISO14443A and B standards. These NFC tags are pre-configured at manufacture and they can be either read / re-writable, or read-only. The memory capacity can be up to 32 kbytes and the communication speed is between 106 kbit/s and 424 kbit/s.
From the definitions of the different NFC tag types, it can be seen that type 1 and 2 tags are very different to type 3 and 4 tags, having different memory capacity and makeup. Accordingly it is expected that there is likely to be very little overlap in their applications.

Type 1 and type 2 tags are dual state and may be either read/write or read-only. Type 3 and Type 4 tags are read-only, data being entered at manufacture or using a special tag writer.

858 – 930 MHz UHF RFID Frequencies

858 – 930 MHz UHF RFID Frequencies

As the UHF RFID frequencies are not a global allocation, these frequencies cannot be used internationally. Where access is allowed, it may be found that there are different restrictions in different countries.

UHF RFID FREQUENCY BAND DETAILS
COUNTRY COMMENTS
North America Here the UHF RFID band can be used unlicensed within the limits of 915 MHz ± 15MHz (i.e. 902 – 928 MHz). There are restrictions on transmission power.
Europe (less exclusions) Within this region, the RFID frequencies (and other low-power radio applications) specified ETSI recommendations EN 300 220 and EN 302 208, and ERO recommendation 70 03. These allow RFID operation within the band 865-868 MHz, but with some involved restrictions. RFID readers must to monitor a channel before transmitting – “Listen Before Talk”.
France The North American standard is not accepted within France as it interferes with frequencies allocated to the military.
China and Japan There are no licence free RFID bands or frequencies. However it is possible to request a licence for UHF RFID which is granted in a site basis.
Australia & New Zealand Within this area the RFID band exists between 918-926 MHz as these frequencies are unlicensed, but there are restrictions on the transmission power.

When looking at using, developing or setting up an RFID system it is necessary to consider the frequencies that are to be used as spectrum allocations and general regulations vary from country to country. This is particularly true for UHF RFID usage.

RFID frequency band allocations

There is a total of four different RFID frequency bands or RFID frequencies that are used around the globe. These are placed widely different areas within the radio frequency spectrum and this enables RFID to choose frequencies that will enable the right system parameters to be obtained.

RFID FREQUENCY BAND / SPECTRUM ALLOCATIONS
RFID FREQUENCY
BAND
FREQUENCY BAND
DESCRIPTION
TYPICAL RANGE TYPICAL RFID APPLICATIONS
125-134.2 kHz and 140-148.5 kHz Low frequency Up to ~ 1/2 metre These frequencies can be used globally without a license. Often used for vehicle identification. Sometimes referred to as LowFID.
6.765 – 6.795 MHz Medium frequency Inductive coupling is used on these RFID frequencies.
13.553 – 13.567 MHz High Frequency
HF
Often called 13.56 MHz
Up to ~ 1 metre These RFID frequencies are typically used for electronic ticketing, contactless payment, access control, garment tracking, etc
26.957 – 27.283 MHz Medium frequency Up to ~ 1 metre Inductive coupling only, and used for special applications.
433 MHz UHF These RFID frequencies are used with backscatter coupling, for applications such as remote car keys in Europe
858 – 930 MHz Ultra High Frequency
UHF
1 to 10 metres These RFID frequencies cannot be accessed globally and there are significant restrictions on their use. When they are used, it is often used for asset management, container tracking, baggage tracking, work in progress tracking, etc. and often in conjunction with Wi-Fi systems.
For further information on its use see the paragraph below.
2.400 – 2.483 GHz SHF Backscatter coupling, but only available in USA / Canada
2.446 – 2.454GHz SHF 3 metres upwards These RFID frequencies are used for long range tracking and with active tags, RFID and AVI (Automatic Vehicle Identification). Backscatter coupling is generally used.
5.725 – 5.875 GHz SHF Backscatter coupling. Not widely used for RFID.