Businesses in all sorts of industries are using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in a wide range of applications. From managing inventory to monitoring access to keep people safe. It’s estimated that the global RFID market will reach $26.3 billion in 2021. RFID technology is being used in many innovative ways.
Safety & Security
RFID can include sensors that detect hazardous situations and transmit information. In stadiums, for example, sensors can detect the presence of unusual chemicals or toxic substances that may pose health and safety risks.
The technology is sophisticated enough that it can distinguish between normal chemicals that might be found in crowds and hazardous chemicals that could be dispersed in a terrorist event.
A South African mining company puts tags on miners’ helmets so they always know where they are. If a miner finds themselves in a dangerous situation or needs help, supervisors know their exact positioning at all times.
Tracking Freight and Damage
RFID tracking is being used for freight shipments not only to keep track of where goods are in transit, but also whether they are damaged during their journey through the supply chain.
Every time a package is moved, passive RFID tags record positioning. They can also detect impacts that occur due to shock or vibration. When potential damage above pre-set thresholds takes place, these tags turn red as a visual indicator letting cargo handlers know to inspect the goods for damage.
RFID tags can also be scanned into ERP or warehouse management systems quickly. Thousands of packages can be read and evaluated for g-force thresholds in seconds.
Moscow City deployed long-range passive RFID tags and readers in parking garages to help manage access issues for residents and tenants. The system only allows certain people to enter the parking garage to ensure there’s a parking space available. Spaces are therefore guaranteed for people living or working in the building.
RFID tags will only allow a certain amount of temporary parking for visitors before denying entry when spaces are full.
Stopping Theft and Counterfeiting
Guitar-maker Fender embeds more than 30,000 of its instruments with RFID chips to provide a unique and traceable way to identify them. Repair shops and stores selling Fender products can read them and if an item is stolen, it can be traced back to its owner.
Some luxury clothing manufacturers are embedding RFID tags into their products to help people spot counterfeit goods. When items are scanned, they have a unique ID that lets sellers and customers know it’s the real deal.
Many casinos use chips with RFID technology embedded. This helps them track which tables gamblers use, how long they play at particular games, and where they are betting. It also helps prevent theft. Crooks know if they steal chips, they won’t be able to convert them into cash.
Even in the digital age, many businesses and organizations are still handling paper files. This was the case at Florida State University, where it was estimated that the 40 employees in the accounting office handled more than 3,500 files every day.
With that volume, it wasn’t surprising if things turned up missing or misplaced. Utilizing an RFID tracking system, monitors can help track down lost files with ease.
RFID is also being used in the Vatican, which hosts more than 2 million centuries-old books and manuscripts. Before RFID implementation, the Vatican library would have to close for a month each year to verify its contents. After RFID tags were added to the items available for public viewing, it reduced the time it takes to inventory its assets to about half a day.
Integrated RFID solutions are helping retailers to reduce their out-of-stocks and provide real-time data on inventory. For many warehouses and retail stores, RFID has replaced labor-intensive inventory counts that were also riddled with inaccuracies. Undercounting or overcounting inventory is problematic. RFID tags virtually eliminate this problem.
Lululemon reported that their inventory accuracy rate improved to 98% as a result of implementing RFID technology in their warehouses and stores.
RFID industrial nails with embedded tags are being used to monitor forests. Not only can the tags monitor where trees are to prevent illegal logging, but RFID nails driven into trees can keep track of the age of trees and monitor other items, such as how often trees bear fruit.
RFID Technology Use Continues to Grow
RFID technology is being used in amazing ways. As RFID devices have become smaller, lighter, and cheaper to manufacture, expect even more creative applications to emerge.