RFID is a powerful technology that offers significant business advantages when the functionality is matched by the application. Broader adoption of passive RFID technology may be limited due to the range and reliability shortcomings of this technology.
Next-generation radio frequency identification (RFID) products that bring affordable intelligence to the Australian supply chain sector have been introduced by Datanet. The Intelleflex tags offer a number of innovations to RFID that address these shortcomings. Their battery-assisted passive technology delivers long range and high reliability and provides a host of enabling features such as user memory, security and sensors. Instead of forcing business applications to fit the RFID technology, the systems fit current business flows.
The EPC-class battery-assisted smart passive tags (Class 3) and multi-protocol 3.2.1 RFID readers, provide the performance advantages of Class 4 RFID active systems at a price closer to Class 1 passive RFID. The technology enables more data (64KB) to be stored and read from tags, while remaining compatible with RFID standards, including EPCglobal.
The Intelleflex technology is available at about 20 per cent of the cost of an active system. It is claimed to have 10-100 times the range of passive RFID, to offer a 10-100x improvement in read-write accuracy, and to hold far more intelligence and information. As well as supporting long read-ranges, the technology features rewritable tag memory for storing manifests, maintenance records and custody information, and can serve as data loggers for sensor-based applications.
Perhaps more compelling than its price/performance advantage over Class 4 active, is the Intelleflex Class 3 system’s compatibility with Class 1 passive. The system supports passive C1G2 mode between tags and readers, allowing operations in either pure-passive or battery-assisted mode. This compatibility affords transport and logistics carriers the flexibility to combine Class 1 and Class 3 tags and readers within a single, interoperable infrastructure. In other words, it allows users to adopt EPCGlobal standards-based products with flexibility, while future-proofing their technology investments.
The emergence of Class 3 signals that RFID is reaching maturity, by delivering more intelligence for track-and-trace operations. Traditionally, RFID implementation has depended on the validity of stored intelligence, and now Class 3 has the intelligence to ensure that accuracy.
Intelleflex supplies the next-generation RFID chips to, among others, Boeing Corporation, to enable ‘smart labels’ on maintenance-significant parts of the new 787 Dreamliner. In the Australian marketplace, battery-assisted smart RFID systems will offer a huge advantage in asset visibility for sensitive freight such as pharmaceuticals, and temperature-sensitive, time-sensitive, returnable goods. As well as storing more intelligence, the technology reads chips in difficult, previously inaccessible areas.
Battery-assisted smart passive tags are capable of resolving security pressures from emerging mandates on the traceability of products, especially food, wine, drugs, etc. The technology is also suitable for other applications including e-manifest, ASN, product information, maintenance records, nested supply chains, cold supply chain, asset management and yard management.
The Class 3 battery-assisted passive RFID systems can enable key functionalities for transport and logistics carriers in the areas of yard management, nested visibility, and mobile asset management. Key functions include:
• Checking vehicles in and out of entrances and exits.
• Providing time-critical information to support loading, staging and put-away activity.
• E-manifest for proof of delivery, increasing supply chain accuracy.
• Returnable container tracking.
• Tracking indoor and outdoor assets over large areas in real time.
The smart tags overcome the disadvantages of ordinary passive tags that are ID-only, difficult to read in RF-unfriendly environments, and have a low (60 per cent) read-reliability through water and other liquids, and metals. Assets are visible only at choke-points.
The new technology also eliminates the problems of Class-4 RFID (fully active tags), which are high-cost and not EPC compliant. In contrast, EPC-class battery-assisted smart passive tags comply with the latest standards framework and feature application-specific security.