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Overview of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology utilized in multiple industries involving the use of miniature tags to store information, and electromagnetic fields to retrieve it. The process involves attaching or embedding small microchips, known as tags, to an object. These tags have had information about the object loaded onto them. This information can then be quickly and easily read using an electromagnetic tag reader. Many RFID tags are read only, although in some cases these readers can be read/write so new data can be entered as well.

Radio identification technology has been around for awhile, having had been used as far back as World War II. True RFID technology wasn’t developed until more recently. The first real predecessor to RFID was a device developed on January 23, 1973 by Mario Cardullo for use as a toll device. It was a small radio transponder with memory that could be read using a signal. The term RFID though was only first used in a patent in 1983. The technology has continued to develop to this day.

The main use of RFID in the process industries is to store information about equipment or assets. Because RFID tags can be embedded, they can store the information within the part itself. This information can include things like born on dates, certification dates, part numbers, or days in use, among others. It can also be used to track and trace asset history, including inspection and maintenance activities.

This means that, unlike other methods of information storage, RFID tags can’t be lost, wear off, or associated with the wrong equipment, and are less prone to errors. Along with being longer lasting, RFID data acquisition is also ten times faster than bar codes. Moreover, because they are read with electromagnetic fields, they don’t require a line of sight to be read.

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