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RFID Technology
The uses for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology are nearly limitless - depending only on the need for tracking within a defined space. Until fairly recently, RFID technology was expensive. However, as it finds more and more uses in the marketplace, the costs are dropping until the technology has become viable for a variety of applications.

RFID is both secure and wireless. It is also a hand-free technology since it consist of data encoded in a computer chip and attached to an antenna which functions as a transponder and is referred to as an RFID tag. Some tags are bulky, while others are much smaller and flexible so they can be embedded inside shipping labels. There are two types of responders - active ones and passive ones. The active tags broadcast their data to an RFID reader, since they have batteries inside and are self-powered. Passive tags dont broadcast, but receive their power from the reader as they come into proximity with it. They can be much smaller because they dont have to contain a battery.

The latest developments in RFID technology have been to make them operate on different frequencies so they can be read from farther away. Passive, flexible tags set to the UHF frequency band can be read from as far as 20 feet away, which until recently was impossible.

One of the primary uses for RFID technology is package and container tracking in warehouses and, in fact, clear through the supply chain. Readers located at the entrances to a warehouse can electronically read what merchandise goes in and out, transmitting that information back to a central database, or generating shipping notices, or any one of a number of othefunctions. Tracking merchandise is not the only use for RFID technology, however. It is used in ports, distribution centers, and fleet operations for a variety of functions including identifying employees and managing assets. It is particularly effective for high volume logistics container users because of the ease of managing containers with this type of technology. When the tag passes by a reader, it logs the merchandise into the facility. It is also logged out of the facility and even associated with specific customers. The results are very beneficial - fewer losses and faster returns are the primary ones. The technology can even track reusable containers from one location to the next through a facility and dont require any human labor. This method of identification enhances the performance of companies in inventory, tracking and handling costs.

One of the most recent uses for RFID technology is tracking vehicles, either within or outside of a facility. It can be used for secure tracking of forklifts, tow motors, trailers, and a variety of other equipment. In fact, vehicle tags and employee badges are becoming common uses for RFID technology. An RFID system can rapidly check credential on an employee ID card and either allow, or prevent, the employee from using a particular vehicle.

RFID technology is a particularly useful tool for managers who can be informed at all times where vehicles and personnel are located throughout a facility. Because both can be found almost instantaneously, time and money is saved by assigning them quickly on the basis of need.

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