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Common Pitfalls for an RFID Project

RFID is an new, exciting technology that can can help improve efficiencies through automation:

  • Save time looking for assets

  • Give better visibility to product workflows

  • Control product inventories through automation

The list industries and solutions that RFID can help to improve could go on and on.

But did you know that there are common pitfalls for an RFID project that companies often painfully discover along the way?

What are these pitfalls and how can you avoid them?

This review article will go over many of the pitfalls and talk about why companies experience them and how to avoid them when adopting RFID.

Unrealistic expectations

RFID has a lot of hype behind it. This has led to companies having unrealistic expectations on what they can expect.

A lot of the unrealistic expectations could be cleared up with proper education on the different kinds of RFID technologies along with their strengths and weaknesses.

Starting a project without a good plan

Some companies are so excited to get started with RFID that they just go out and start making purchases without even understanding how the products they buy will help them solve their business challenges.

Only after they buy all of their RFID equipment do they realize that they now need to figure out what they can do with it.

Oftentimes the products that they bought end up not being what they need.

Before any purchasing is made, the project needs to be properly scoped out.

Active RFID vs Passive RFID

One of the main choices a company will have to make is whether they want to use Passive RFID or Active RFID for their technology.

Choosing the wrong type of technology can result in a project failure.

It is that important.

Passive RFID tags are less expensive than Active RFID, but just because the tags are less expensive, that doesn't mean that it will be the right choice.

  • Passive RFID tags have a much smaller read range than Active RFID

  • Active RFID tags can have sensors embedded in the tags for advanced monitoring.

Will Passive RFID work with your complex environment? If you can't get the reliability that you need, investing a lot of money into a Passive RFID system can be result in a failed project.

Another consideration is although Active RFID tags are more expensive, the infrastructure needed to provide monitoring can be less expensive. As an example, InfinID Technologies produces an Active RFID mesh network tag called V-Tag that sets up its own wireless network allowing the Location tags to talk to each other. Adding the ability to track a location is very inexpensive. Labor costs for setup are also reduced.

After a comprehensive analysis is performed, many companies are surprised that a hybrid blend of both Active RFID and Passive RFID offers the best solution for their needs.

Budget should be a consideration as well

RFID technology does have an adoption cost to it. This needs to be carefully considered when planning for the project.

Can we afford to implement the entire project or should we break it up into several pieces?

Companies sometimes start out purchasing for the Cadillac model of RFID when all they have in their budget is a Nissan.

Passive RFID Tag Selection

You have settled on Passive RFID technology for your solution and are ready to go out and buy your passive RFID tags.

What could go wrong?

A lot could go wrong actually.

Choosing the right Passive RFID tag is much more challenging than one might think.

  • Bad Form Factor - Some Passive RFID tags work great only on paper surfaces. Others work only on metal. Some tags rigid while others are bendable.

  • Wrong Durability - This hospital asset needs to be able to withstand corrosive solvents. That asset jig needs to withstand very high temperatures. This other asset needs to be waterproof.

Just jumping in and buying a bunch of Passive RFID tags to slap on your products can result in a lot of lost money.

Passive RFID Fixed Readers

Passive RFID fixed readers are readers that are mounted at a fixed location to catch Passive RFID tags that are moving through an area.

The biggest pitfall with these Readers is that they don't end up giving the reliability that the customer needs in a real-world environment.

Testing is critical for these readers if the customer has high performance expectations.

Customers really need to do a proper analysis of their environment to get a realistic expectation about how these tags will be moving around a fixed reader.

Law Office Checkout Example

One example that InfinID ran into was a law office that had a checkout station in their IT department.

They also had fixed readers at the department exits to catch any assets that were not checked out.

The range should have been fine for passive RFID, but many users would walk out with the IT equipment (e.g. laptops) pressed against their bodies which would dampen the signals.

This disappointed customer could have been avoided if they had done proper real-world testing beforehand.

Testing testing testing

Not testing your fixed reader in a real-world environment can easily result in projects that fail to deliver.

Carefully monitor your environment to make sure you understand all variables.

Best Practices

One of the best decisions a company can make when investigating an RFID project is to partner with a trusted solutions integrator.

An RFID expert likely has the experience to understand what the challenges that your project is likely to experience and can offer lead you the whole way to project success without wasting a lot of money making the wrong decisions.

Contact InfinID Technologies today to discuss your project. We have the experts you need for success.


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