“From contactless payments and passport verification to vehicle and product tracking, RFID continues to play an ever greater role in all our lives,” Cliff Evans, owner of TrackerPoint, a privately-owned company with expertise in hundreds of RFID applications across various sectors, tells Logistics Middle East. “Any business can use RFID provided a suitable business case can be made,” he adds.
RFID – or to give it its full name, radio-frequency identification – is the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, which enables us to quickly identify and track tags attached to objects. The most common applications are tracking goods in the supply chain, reusable containers, high value tools and other assets, and parts moving to a manufacturing production line.
The technology has been patented since the 1970s though initially it was too expensive and limited to use on a large scale or be practical for commercial applications. RFID chips come in a variety of forms and have multiple uses, from powering the devices used at automated toll booths, to being implanted in the necks of pets so they could be identified if they go missing, to allowing us to hop and off public transport without money having to change hands – so we, as passengers, can use RFID chip-embedded passes like debit cards.
The different applications, naturally, require different types of RFID tags, with the most basic being passive tags that need relatively close proximity to be read.
At a basic level, each tag works in the same way: data is stored within an RFID tag’s microchip and the tag’s antenna receives electromagnetic energy from an RFID reader’s antenna. Then, using power from its internal battery or from the reader’s electromagnetic field, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader, and the reader picks up the tag’s radio waves to interpret the frequencies as meaningful data.
Elaborating on TrackerPoint’s core software offering, Evans comments: “Each product is designed to handle a specific task which includes: device communications, data presentation, data import, data export, system monitoring and mobile devices.
He says a large part of the independent UK-based company’s success is down to keeping up with latest developments and choosing equipment that meets its high standards for quality, support and value.
“We spend a lot of time talking confidentially to manufacturers about intended future developments, which gives us a great insight as to where things are heading,” he comments.
Established over 25 years ago, TrackerPoint’s Installations range from tracking aircraft parts, to monitoring product shipments to China, to the secure storage of media assets 24/7 at several of the UK’s main universities.
Two aviation projects include installations at London’s Heathrow Airport and Hawaii’s Honolulu International Airport.
“At Heathrow we monitor service vehicles within the airport vicinity to help with scheduling and security.