Passive RFID Tags
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Tools Pallets Assets Parts Drill Pipes Totes IT Assets Inventory Surgical Trays

Passive RFID Tags, Labels, Inlays, and Sensors For UHF Tracking Systems

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Xerafy Passive RFID tags are uniquely engineered to deliver mount on metal performance at the service of specialized identification and tracking systems

Leading companies all over the world know and trust Xerafy for passive RFID tags for asset and inventory tracking systems operating in harsh environments and demanding superior performance.

RFID tags are small devices that contain a chip and an antenna for wirelessly identifying the things to which they are attached (or inserted) using an RFID reader.

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) is a technology that uses electromagnetic fields to identify labels and tags attached to assets.

Unlike barcodes, the technology allows for reading and writing data in bulk, in seconds, from a distance, and out of sight, thus enabling automated asset tracking.

RFID tags are available at very different price points:

  • Active or Passive – with or without battery
  • Form factors – labels and inlays vs hard tags
  • Durability – disposable vs reusable

 

Asset and inventory tracking systems rely on durable passive RFID tags. These are available with low deployment costs owing to the early efforts of the RAIN RFID consortium to develop global UHF standards around US, EU/EU2, and Global frequencies.

UHF RFID has become the standard identification technology for indoor and outdoor asset tracking.

Industrial RFID tracking systems predominantly operate within the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) bands on the electromagnetic spectrum (860 to 960 MHz band as per UHF Gen2 standard). Global standardization is led by the RAIN RFID consortium, with most countries operating between 900 and 915 MHz.

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UHF RFID has evolved significantly over time to operate effectively around metals and liquids that would normally be difficult to penetrate due to the materials’ ability to reflect and change the tune of radio frequencies.

In doing so, it has relegated HF and LF RFID to niche applications such as fixed assets and very close ranges.

Technically, UHF is ideally suited for assets in motion and uncontrolled positions because it allows for fast data processing (imagine an asset moving quickly on a conveyor belt), increased accuracy (identifying items in bulk in seconds), and extended read ranges (over several meters).

Passive UHF RFID tags operate battery-free by harvesting energy from the readers. The lower acquisition of cost of passive RFID tags has driven their wide adoption for metal tagging, helped by their longer lifespan as well as their

In the field, UHF RFID tags are sometimes deployed in conjunction with complementary asset identification and tracking technologies such as Barcodes, NFC (Near-Field Communication), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), and UWB (Ultra Wide Band).

RFID tags can be Active or Passive: The use of a battery for Active RFID means longer read ranges but increased costs of acquisition and maintenance.

There are tags for three main ranges of RFID frequencies: Low frequency (LF), High frequency (HF) and Ultra-High frequency (UHF).

RFID tags are available in various form factors, adapted to specific industrial environments: Chips, labels, rugged, stickers, inlays, bands, cards, etc…

Asset tracking RFID tags, or industrial RFID tags, are essentially passive RFID tags with distinctive features for durability and performance in harsh environments. RFID companies like Xerafy have been developing rugged passive UHF tagging solutions for metal surfaces that come with advanced features focused on performance, durability, and survivability.

An RFID tracking system consists of a tiny radio transponder such as a tag or a label, a radio receiver, and an antenna to transmit the signal.

When a reader scans a passive RFID tag, the chip receives enough electromagnetic energy to relay its ID and/or memory information back to the reader and onto the application software. RFID tracking systems automate the tasks of identification, location, tracking, and monitoring assets.

Standardization is critical to industrial system, with passive RFID tags and other RFID system components following RAIN RFID recommendations as well as a number of industry standards: FCC, ETSI, CE, REACH, RoHS, ATEX…

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RFID readers can be fixed or handheld, with reputable suppliers including Impinj, TSL, Zebra, Chainway, Alien, Turck, Honeywell, among others. The same equipment can be used to program tag, for instance by encoding a unique identification number.

RFID labels on the other hand use industrial RFID printers from SATO, Zebra, Printronix, Toshiba, Postek.

RFID systems use three main ranges of frequencies: Low frequency (LF), High frequency (HF) and Ultra-High frequency (UHF).

 

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The highest the RFID frequency ranges, the longest the read ranges achieved:

 

  • LF (Low Frequency)

Typical frequencies in the 125-134 KHz range, with some systems operating between 30 KHz to 500 KHz. LF RFID systems achieve very short transmission ranges from a few centimeters to up to one meter.

 

  • NFC/HF (Near-Field Communication / High Frequency)

The typical HF frequency is 13.56 MHz, with HF systems ranging from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. NFC and HF systems are expected to deliver read ranges from a few centimeters to a few meters.

 

  • UHF (Ultra High Frequency)

UHF systems operate from 300 MHz to 960 MHz, with the RAIN RFID standard covering the 865-960 MHz range. These UHF RFID systems can achieve read ranges in excess of 20 meters.

Passive RFID tags harvest the energy transmitted from an RFID reader. As such, they can operate for many years without any maintenance or battery power, with rugged tags’ life expectancy frequently exceeding that of the asset they are tracking.

Active RFID tags, on the other hand, are powered by a battery, allowing for continuous wireless operations, and communications over longer distances.

Passive and active RFID have long coexisted in industrial applications. Today, active RFID is used mostly in RTLS (Real-Time Locating) systems that are less sensitive to their higher acquisition and maintenance costs.

6 Steps To Selecting Passive RFID Tags

How do you select the best passive RFID tags for a tracking system? Xerafy’s 6-Step ABCDEF assessment helps frame a system’s essential performance requirements.

What assets does the RFID system track?

Start with the type of assets to be tracked and the materials they are made of: Metal tagging is the most common use case in industrial systems alongside plastics. Other materials include wood, glass, cardboard, and so on.

RFID tags are typically applied to the surface of the asset to be tracked. The composition of the substrate and the nature of the content of the asset can have an impact on the overall performance of the tracking system, such as read range, accuracy, and durability.

Industrial RFID tags are specifically designed as mount on metal RFID tags, with a spacer to ensure optimal RF performance. Xerafy took it a step further by developing a metal tagging technology that leverages the presence of metal in the asset to improve its RF performance in terms of accuracy and read range. Xerafy developed a range of rugged RFID tags that are optimized for high performance on metal surfaces.

Which tagging method is the most appropriate for the system?

A number of parameters must be considered when defining an optimal tagging method in terms of operational performance and ROI, including:

  1. What is the asset's lifespan?
  2. What is the expected rate of tag attrition?
  3. Is it necessary for RFID tags to be reusable and replaceable?
  4. Is there any legacy inventory that must be retrofitted with RFID tags?
  5. How scalable and fast must the tagging method be?

Each industry has its preferences for field-validated tagging methods such as rivets, screws, welding, glues, adhesives, magnets, velcro, cables, and zip ties. Xerafy's expertise in specialized tracking systems has resulted in the development of RFID metal tagging solutions that operates inside metal, also known as embeddable RFID, in which the tag is screwed into a cavity or sealed.

How much customization is required for the RFID system to be deployed?

Asset tracking applications benefit from a wide range of standardized tags, readers, antennas, and software that are readily available off the shelf. Personalization on-site or by the supplier can facilitate field deployment: Printing of readable identification, RFID encoding of asset data, personalized laser engraving, RFID reader tuning, and so on.

RFID tags can be personalized and customized for deployment in the field, including printing, encoding, laser marking, etc.

RFID has proven to be a compelling solution to barcode identification's limitations in terms of line of sight, bulk scanning, and automation. Tags support hybrid RFID and optical information in the form of human-readable data or Barcodes / QR codes.​

Xerafy UHF labels in particular can be supplied blank, to be then printed and encoded on-site with any of the leading RFID printers such as SATO, Zebra, Toshiba, Printronix, and Postek. They can also be personalized with the support of the Xerafy service bureau.

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How is data stored in the RFID system?

RFID tracking systems reliably identify assets with the information stored in the RFID asset tags' memory. They are increasingly relying on RFID tags, which only store an asset identification number and store information in the cloud. This is due, in part, to applications that operate at faster speeds than RFID chips can read and write.

The following RFID chips memory can be used for identification:

  • TID memory - Also known as Tag ID, this is a serial number that is unique to the chip and cannot be changed.
  • EPC memory - Also known as Electronic Product Code memory, it is similar to an electronic barcode and can be reprogrammed, password-protected, and permanently locked.
  • Extended user memory - Some chips provide extended user memory, which is typically used when EPC memory is insufficient.

Higher memory requirements are found in application environments that require off-line access to complete records, secure encryption, or come with field-based cloud coverage limitations. Xerafy maintains a selection of RFID chips with extended user memory from market leaders NXP, Impinj, and Alien Technologies

What are the RFID system's environmental conditions?

Rugged RFID tags come in a variety of tough packagings that are designed to provide levels of survivability and durability appropriate to the system's requirements. It is therefore critical to specify the environmental conditions under which the RFID solution operates, for example:

  • Extreme heat?
  • Temperature fluctuations?
  • Vibrations and shocks?
  • Moisture or immersion?
  • What about caustic or acidic fluids?
  • Operations indoors or outdoors?

Some application environments, such as an automotive paint shop, are more complex than others. Xerafy has used its application expertise to create several sector-specific tagging solutions that have brought RFID tracking technology innovations to market.​

What is an ultra high temperature RFID tag?

With typical application temperatures ranging from 85°C to 250°C for industrial processes, tags are ruggedized using packaging materials such as ceramic, which Xerafy introduced in 2010.

Xerafy offers mount on metal RFID tags that are field-proven for ultra high temperature, available in a variety of form factors, frequencies, and case materials, and that can be customized.

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What is autoclavable RFID?

A combination of heat, steam, fluids, gas, and irradiation is used in medical autoclaves and sterilizers to kill microorganisms and sterilize medical devices and instruments.

Autoclavable RFID tags from Xerafy are qualified to survive and perform through the repeated sterilization cycles of hospital's CSSP/SPD re-processing.

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What are ATEX RFID tags?

ATEX/IECEx-certified RFID tags are intrinsically safe to operate in explosive atmospheres in the presence of gas, vapor, mist, powder, or dust.

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Where to place the asset's tag for optimal system performance?​

RFID tracking solutions deal with various physical constraints that must be considered when choosing an RFID tag: Size and shape of the objects, space on the asset's surface available for tagging, curvature of the surface, optimal placement in relation to the workflow, and so on.

While RFID tags are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, RF performance tends to evolve in conjunction with the overall tag size. With a lineup of tags achieving outstanding performance in some of the world's most compact and rugged form factors, Xerafy innovation in the field managed to break through the RFID size/performance ceiling.

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Asset tracking, identification, counting, analyzing, monitoring: Businesses get the data they need to drive performance and flexibility with Xerafy’s passive UHF RFID tagging and sensing solutions, available for all types of enterprise assets ranging from small tools to large equipment.

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