Current and Potential Uses of RFID

Asset Tracking
It’s no surprise that asset tracking is one of the most common uses of RFID. Companies can put RFID tags on assets that are lost or stolen often, that are underutilized or that are just hard to locate at the time they are needed. Just about every type of RFID system is used for asset management. NYK Logistics, a third-party logistics provider based in Secaucus, N.J., needed to track containers at its Long Beach, Calif., distribution center. It chose a real-time locating system that uses active RFID beacons to locate container to within 10 feet.

Manufacturing
RFID has been used in manufacturing plants for more than a decade. It’s used to track parts and work in process and to reduce defects, increase throughput and manage the production of different versions of the same product.

Supply Chain Management
RFID technology has been used in closed loop supply chains or to automate parts of the supply chain within a company’s control for years.

As standards emerge, companies are increasingly turning to RFID to track shipments among supply chain partners.

Retailing
Retailers such as Best Buy, Metro, Target, Tesco and Wal-Mart are in the forefront of RFID adoption. These retailers are currently focused on improving supply chain efficiency and making sure product is on the shelf when customers want to buy it.

Payment Systems
RFID is all the rage in the supply chain world, but the technology is also catching on as a convenient payment mechanism. One of the most popular uses of RFID today is to pay for road tolls without stopping. These active systems have caught on in many countries, and quick service restaurants are experimenting with using the same active RFID tags to pay for meals at drive-through windows.

Security and Access Control
RFID has long been used as an electronic key to control who has access to office buildings or areas within office buildings. The first access control systems used low-frequency RFID tags. Recently, vendors have introduced 13.56 MHz systems that offer longer read range. The advantage of RFID is it is convenient (an employee can hold up a badge to unlock a door, rather than looking for a key or swiping a magnetic stripe card) and because there is no contact between the card and reader, there is less wear and tear, and therefore less maintenance.

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