May 2011 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

RFID Delivers the Power to Transform Markets

Tags: Logistics I.T., Materials Handling

Ravi Pappu is VP Advanced Development Group (ADG), ThingMagic, A Division of Trimble, 866-833-4069

Q: The business cases for achieving improved visibility throughout the supply chain have been identified. What technologies should logistics providers consider to get there?

Pappu: Physical objects are becoming coupled with a myriad of radio technologies to drive a communications revolution. For instance, location information from GPS satellites 16 miles above the earth is being used to track vehicle fleets delivering goods between locations. Various radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies are being used to locate and identify objects during manufacturing and shipping processes at distances from inches to hundreds of feet. And the sensing capabilities of some RFID-enabled devices can remotely determine a shipment’s temperature, determine its direction of travel and velocity, and even turn on and off devices connected to the RFID tag. These technologies allow computers, objects, and individuals to interact in many new ways, supplying logistics providers and materials handlers with predictable and actionable data to enhance their service offerings and operations.

Q: What are some of the trends and advancements logistics providers should be aware of when considering GPS and RFID technologies?

Pappu: Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) Passive RFID performance is advancing phenomenally. The read range of passive UHF RFID tags has quadrupled in the past three years, read rates have increased from 200 to 1,200 tags per second, and read accuracy is nearly 100 percent. The cost of Passive RFID tags has also decreased by a factor of five over the same period.

Further, as the market evolves from one-size-fits-all RFID readers toward highly integrated solutions, diverse RFID reader form factors become more important. Today, small UHF RFID modules are being embedded into mobile devices for inventory management applications, and a variety of stationary RFID readers are available for enterprise, commercial, and industrial environments where high performance in a wide range of operating conditions is required.

More interesting than any standalone technology is the integration of multiple identification and sensing technologies into a single device or solution. Combining RFID, GPS, GPRS, Wi-Fi, and other technologies will allow everyday objects to deliver valuable data that can be used for a variety of applications.

Q: Where do you expect new market growth to come from?

Pappu: Many markets are adopting RFID technology. Any organization focused on decreasing delivery times of its products, reducing product theft, or improving customer service can benefit from implementing auto-identification and sensing technologies. The important thing to understand is that the technology itself is no longer a barrier to entry.