RFID tags are a critical component of RFID solutions. They are affixed to objects such as assets, inventory, vehicles or even people as part of a customised RFID technology solution.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and is a form of wireless communication that uses radio waves to identify a wide variety of ‘tagged’ objects or people from a distance. One of the key advantages of RFID over traditional barcode technology is that RFID does not need a direct line of site to ‘see’ an object. This is key to increase visibility of individual items in large rooms containing many items, and also saves a lot of time.
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The technology has been developed over a number of years and forms the basis of tracking solutions for a wide range of assets and people across various industries. RFID technology solutions use a combination of tags, readers, software and networks to create a customised solution to track a wide variety of valuable business assets.

There are many different types of RFID tags available, applicable to a wide variety of applications and scenarios. The right tag choice is critical to ensure an effective RFID technology solution.

RFID tags are fit for purpose

There are many kinds of RFID tags available, and the right one for any specific application will depend on a variety of factors. While the term “RFID tags” is generally used to describe the items affixed to objects as part of an overall RFID tag solution, they can also take the form of stickers (UHF RFID Stickers), adhesive labels (Adhesive RFID tags), hang tags and hard tags to suit any environment.

Which tag is right for any given RFID solution comes down to a variety of factors, including:

  • If an the tag is to be simply ‘read’ (passive), or if it needs to receive and transmit messages (active)
  • The object that needs to be tagged, and where the RFID tag is best placed for reading
  • The surface type where the tag will be affixed (metal, plastic etc.), and if it is unusual or irregular
  • The physical stress the tag may be subjected to, such as those tags placed on beer kegs or commercial linen for example
  • If the RFID tag needs to be wearable by a person, such as on a wristband or fob

There are as many types of RFID tags as there are applications for them. The right type of RFID tag will be selected or specified as part of a customized RFID technology solution for individual business needs.

Active or passive RFID tags?

There are essentially two types of RFID tags – passive and active. They both use the same radio frequency technology, but they are powered differently. Passive tags have no battery and draw power from an external RFID reader, while active tags contain a battery to transmit signals and respond to messages.

It is important to understand the different features and benefits of passive and active tags to ensure they are fit for purpose.

Compare Passive & Active Tags

Power source No internal power(powered by RFID reader) Internal power source(typically a battery)
Read range Short (0.5m – 15m) Long (50m – 300m)
Cost Relatively cheap More expensive
Lifespan Indefinite (10+ years) Typically 3 – 5 years
Signal Only when powered by reader Always on
Size Can be very small Larger and bulkier (due to battery)
Embeddable Easily embedded Difficult to embed

More About Passive Tags

Passive RFID tags are typically used on smaller items, such as inventory in a retail supply chain, and they are inexpensive due to high volumes and disposability. These tags can also be used for smaller classes of assets such as computers, tablets and phones.

On the other hand, active RFID tags are more suitable for bigger assets such as cars, trucks and other equipment that operates in larger areas such as depots, warehouses, dealerships and ports.

Complementary RFID tag technology

The great thing about RFID is that it is very flexible and can incorporate various different types of technology to create a comprehensive solution. For example, complementary RFID tag types include:

  • 2D (QR) barcodes: There are types of barcodes that can be printed on labels and can be often used on RFID tags or labels for redundancy, or to be read via a smartphone app when there is no RFID reader available.
  • GPS tags: These tags collect GPS location data as programmed and transmit that information to the Cloud.

A customised RFID technology solution can include these complementary types of technology to provide a complete system for asset visibility.

Customised RFID inventory tracking solutions for every business

RFID tags are a critical component of an RFID technology solution that can be customised for different businesses depending on their specific needs and their particular circumstances. Using the most appropriate type of RFID tags, along with readers and software, helps create a powerful RFID solution to increase visibility of valuable assets, save time, and increase the business bottom line.