Imagine you’re at a major theme park and you’ve lost sight of your child. You’re not overly worried, however, because he’s wearing a radio wave-emitting bracelet that will make it easy to determine his whereabouts. That’s just one potential application for a technology that is finding more and more uses: Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID.
RFID is what allows you to zoom through the toll booth when you have a prepaid pass affixed to your windshield. One of RFID’s strong points is that a direct line of sight isn’t needed for a detection device to pick up the radio signal. Some transit systems are switching to RFID passes, which allow passengers to move through turnstiles more quickly than if they had to swipe a card.
Several industries are making large-scale use of RFID. Manufacturers employ the technology to track items as they’re produced and moved within a manufacturing facility. Major retailers such as Wal-Mart have been requiring certain suppliers to use RFID tags on pallets and cases they ship, to make inventory management more efficient.
Businesses that are wondering how they might benefit from RFID may wish to consult an RFID integrator. Existing systems don’t necessarily need to be tossed aside; an RFID integrator can determine how RFID and other business systems can work side-by-side.
The aviation industry has discovered the advantages of RFID for meeting the standards of the Air Transport Association’s Spec 2000. The standards apply to tracing aircraft components from “cradle to grave” using automated systems such as barcodes. More recently, standards for radio frequency labeling have been incorporated into ATA Spec 2000 RFID. As spelled out in ATA Spec 2000 RFID, flyable parts may be labeled with RFID tags containing at minimum the component’s “birth record.” The advantages of RFID over barcode tracking is that RFID tags can be read without a direct line of sight to the reader, and the tags can store a wider range of information about the part.