The technology of identification per radio frequency (RFID) is based on a relatively simple concept of two entities which communicate by radio transmission: a label equipped with a chip and an antenna, and a reader. The increasingly pushed standardization of the RFID allows today the emergence of this tool, particularly interesting thanks to its faculty of reading and writing remote (reading without necessary visibility of the label) and of security of the data, with its very good storage capacity and with its excellent strength to the constraints. It results a significant increase from it of the volume of information embarked throughout the chain of production.
"RFID" means Identification by Radio frequency. A miniaturized radio operator transmitter transmits a fixed message (labels with reading alone) or variable (rewriteable labels) to a" reader "when it passes near it and that this one requests it. In practice, this technology has been used for several years, either with "passive" labels (which do not comprise any battery, they use the energy radiated by the reader), or with "active" labels (a battery is embarked).
The word of label is used by analogy with the traditional labels. In fact, it is always acted of an electronic circuit (chip), comprising a mini antenna. In the most miniaturized version, it is possible to include this circuit on a label paper, and there is then a true "intelligent" label which can be printed in thermal transfer for example.
Printers able to print a label paper and simultaneously to encode information on chip RFID integrated in this label paper are from now on available on the market (see Solutions and Produced UP traces). In other cases, the circuit is drowned in plastic and one can present label RFID in various forms (button, plastic chart, etc...) or even to include them directly in a moulded object (pallets, containers, key of vehicle, identification badge, etc.)
Labels RFID show two characteristics which open to them fields of use broader than the labels "code-bars": it is first of all possible to read them without visibility between the reader and the label (one can thus for example read them inside a paperboard, or through coat of paint or whereas they are moulded in plastic...); then, it is possible not only to read data, but also to write them.
Moreover, the "anti-collision" systems make it possible simultaneously to read a great number of labels in same volume (reading of the identifiers of all the objects located in a case or on a pallet...).
The distances from reading depend on technologies used (frequencies, type and dimensions of the antennas) and on the power usable, which varies few centimetres with a few tens of centimetres according to legal maxima's of the countries. Nevertheless, of the distances from several meters, even more, are technically possible.
The RFID, often considered as a new technology, has in fact already "a long" history. However, neither the frequencies nor the protocols of exchange of information were standardized, and, consequently, the only possible applications were internal applications to a company.
Appearance of standards, as well with regard to technology itself (frequencies and protocols) as to embarked information, was the essential precondition to a significant development of the market.
As regards logistics, as soon as one wants to identify pallets, cases, paperboards delivered, transported or circulating of a company to another, only the use of standards allows the installation of an application.
Today, the standards are in place: the frequencies HF (13,56 MHz) and especially UHF (860 to 930 MHz) have ISO standards.
With regard to the embarked data, GS1 already defined the standards of them: (Electronic Product Codes), just like it had been made in the past for the codes bars ( then ).
A dynamics is engaged today: the standards mean the possibility for the manufacturers of hoping for the management of large quantities, and large quantities make it possible to the users to hope for lower prices...
Label RFID being more expensive than the label paper, its profitability thus passes either by a multiple re-use of the label ("closed loop"), or by the multiplication of the applications for the same label and in particular the use of its specific possibilities: reading of multiple objects in the same volume, read/write allowing to consider label RFID as a mini data base embarked.
Certain applications start to be spread on large volumes: identification badges to reading "without contact", public transport, theft protection devices (key of car comprising a chip RFID recognized by the vehicle and authorizing starting, tolls of motorway (with active labels), etc...
In the logistic field, the use on pallets of labels RFID makes it possible to embark in the chip of the pallet the complete packing of the pallet, thus facilitating the reception of the pallet by its recipient and the maintenance of the chain of the traceability.