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How to design an RFID solution

How to design an RFID solution

In a practical RFID solution, both simple RFID systems and complex RFID systems contain some basic components. Components are divided into hardware components and software components. From an end-to-end perspective, an RFID system consists of electronic tags, reader antennas, readers, sensors/actuators/alarms, communication facilities, controllers, application software, etc. If observed from the perspective of function realization, the RFID system can be divided into two major parts: the edge system and the software system. This view coincides with the modern information technology view. The edge system is mainly to complete the information sensing, belonging to the hardware component part; software system to complete the processing and application of information; communication facilities are responsible for the entire RFID system information transfer.

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The hardware component in RFID system includes electronic tag, read-write (including sensor/actuator/alarm and edge interface) , controller and read-write antenna; the system of course also has the host, the application software program for processing data, and connects to the network.
RFID system software components mainly complete the data information storage, management and read and write control of RFID tags, is independent of the RFID hardware above the part. RFID system is ultimately for the application services, readers and applications between the interface is usually completed by the software components. In general, RFID software components include: ① edge interface; ② middleware, that is, for the realization of the collected information transmission and distribution and the development of middleware; ③ enterprise application interface, that is, for the enterprise front-end software, such as equipment suppliers to provide system demonstration software, driver software, interface software, integrators or customers develop their own RFID front-end software; ④ application software, mainly refers to the enterprise back-end software. Such as back-end application software, management information system (MIS) software, etc.

RFID system workflow

RFID system has a basic workflow, by the workflow can be seen RFID system using wireless radio frequency way between the read-write and electronic tags for non-contact two-way data transmission, in order to achieve the purpose of target identification, data transmission and control. RFID system general workflow is as follows.

  • ① The read-write sends a certain frequency radio frequency signal through the transmitting antenna.
  • ② When the electronic label enters the read-write antenna’s working area, the electronic label antenna produces enough induction current, the electronic label obtains the energy to be activated.
  • ③ The electronic label will own information through the built-in antenna to send out.
  • ④ The read-write antenna receives the carrier wave signal sent from the electronic label.
  • ⑤ The read-write antenna transmits the carrier wave signal to the read-write.
  • ⑥ The read-write carries on the demodulation and the decoding to the received signal, then sends to the system high level to carry on the relevant processing.
  • ⑦ The system high level judges the legality of the electronic label according to the logic operation.
  • ⑧ System senior level makes corresponding processing for different settings, issues command signal, and controls actuator action.

How to determine if you need an RFID tracking solution

What is an RFID solution

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an emerging technology that stores data on an electronic data carrier (such as an integrated circuit) and carries out two-way communication between transponder/tag and interrogator/reader in a wireless manner through a magnetic field or electromagnetic field, so as to achieve recognition purposes and exchange data. Technology can achieve multi-target identification and motion target identification; has many advantages such as resistance to harsh environments, high accuracy, security, flexibility and scalability; easy to achieve item tracking and logistics management through the Internet, and thus has received widespread attention. Therefore, RFID is recognized as one of the 10 most promising technologies of this century.
RFID system has existed and developed for decades, from the power supply state can be divided into “active” and “passive” two categories; from the operating frequency, can be divided into low frequency (125KHz-135KHz) , high frequency (13.56MHz) , ultra-high frequency, microwave (2.45GHz, 5.8GHz) and other major categories. The hardware price difference of different RFID system is huge, and the characteristics of the system itself are also different, and the maturity of the system is also different. Many questions, even the industry personnel can’t easily give a clear answer therefore the user often feels at a loss when choosing the radio frequency identification technology. The author combines his own development and application experience, at the same time in reference to the relevant application information and technical data based on, through this paper to try to give the reader a more comprehensive and objective understanding, hope to be able to give the user in the choice of the appropriate frequency of the RFID system to provide some help.

How to plan RFID solutions

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Low frequency

The use of the frequency band range for 10KHZ-1MHZ, common main specifications are 125KHz, 135KHZ, etc.. Generally this band of electronic tags are passive, through the inductive coupling method for energy supply and data transmission. The biggest advantage of the low frequency is its label close to the metal or liquid on the item when the label is affected by less, at the same time the low frequency system is very mature, read-write equipment price is low. But the disadvantage is to read the distance is short, can’t simultaneously carry on the multi-tag reading (anti-conflict) and the information quantity is low, the general storage capacity in 128 bit to 512 bit. Mainly used in access control systems, animal chips, car immobilizers and toys, etc. Although the low-frequency system is mature, read-write equipment is inexpensive, but because of its low resonant frequency, the tag needs to produce inductance value is very large wire-wound inductor, and often need to package off-chip resonant capacitor, the cost of its tag rather than other frequency bands high.

High frequency

The use of the frequency range of 1MHz-400MHz, the main specifications for the common 13.156MHz ISM band. The tags in this band are still mainly passive, also through inductive coupling for energy supply and data transmission. The biggest application in this band is the contactless smart card that we are familiar with. Compared to lower frequencies, the transmission speed is faster, usually above 100kbps, and multiple tags can be identified (international standards have proven anti-collision mechanisms) . The system in this band benefits from the application and popularity of contactless smart cards, and the system is also more mature, with lower prices for reading and writing devices. The products are the most abundant, with storage capacities ranging from 128 bits to more than 8K bytes, and can support a high level of security features, from the simplest write locking, to stream encryption, and even cryptographic coprocessors are integrated. The general applications are in identification, library management, product management, etc. RFID applications with high security requirements, the band is currently the only choice.

Ultra high frequency (UHF)

The range of frequency band used is 400MHz-1GHz, and the main common specifications are 433MHz, 868-950MHz. this band transmits energy and information by means of electromagnetic waves. Both active and passive applications are common in this band. Passive tag reading distance is about 3-10M transmission rate is faster, generally can also reach about 100kbps, and because the antenna can be manufactured by etching or printing, so the cost is relatively low. Because of the reading distance, information transmission rate is faster, and can be simultaneously read and identify a large number of tags, so especially suitable for logistics and supply chain management and other fields. However, this frequency band’s disadvantage is in the metal and the liquid article’s application is not ideal at the same time the system is not mature, read-write equipment’s price is very expensive, the application and the maintenance cost is also very high. In addition, the security characteristic of this frequency band is general, not suitable for the security requirement high application field.


The use of the frequency range of 1GHZ or more, common specifications are 2.45GHz, 5.8GHz. microwave band characteristics and applications and UHF band similar, reading distance of about 2 meters, but for the environment is more sensitive. Because its frequency is higher than UHF, the size of the tag can be made smaller than UHF, but the water attenuation of the signal in this band is higher than UHF, while the working distance is also smaller than UHF.
It is generally used in baggage tracking, item management, supply chain management…etc.

According to the application selects the suitable frequency band radio frequency identification technology

In the previous part, we have briefly introduced the characteristics of each band of RFID technology. In this part we will focus on how to choose the suitable RFID technology.
First, a radio frequency recognition system cost, contains the hardware cost, the software cost and the integration cost and so on. And hardware cost not only includes read-write and label cost, also includes the installation cost. Very often, the application and data management software and integration is the main cost of the whole application. If you consider from the cost, must be based on the overall cost of the system, not just limited to the hardware, such as the price of the tag. Here, we will not discuss and analyze this part further, but the reader needs to have an understanding and awareness of this. In the following, we will mainly discuss how to choose the right frequency band from the technical aspect.
Secondly, we know that even the communication distance of RFID system in the same frequency band is also very different. Because the communication distance usually depends on the antenna design, the read-write output power, the label chip power consumption and the read-write receiving sensitivity and so on. We can’t simply think that a certain frequency band’s radio frequency recognition system’s working distance is greater than another frequency band’s radio frequency recognition system.
Third, although the ideal radio frequency recognition system is the long working distance, the high transmission rate and the low power consumption. However, the reality of the situation this kind of ideal radio frequency system is not exist, the high data transmission rate can only be achieved under the relatively close distance. Conversely, if the communication distance is to be increased, the data transmission rate needs to be reduced. So we must sacrifice the communication rate if we want to choose the radio frequency identification technology with long communication distance. The process of choosing the frequency band is often a kind of compromise process.
Fourth, in addition to consider the communication distance, when we choose a radio frequency system, usually also have to consider the memory capacity, security characteristics and other factors. According to these application requirements, only then can we determine the suitable RF identification frequency band and solution. From the existing solution point of view, the UHF and microwave radio frequency recognition system has the biggest operation distance (can reach 3 to 10 meters) and has the faster communication rate, but in order to reduce the power consumption and complexity of the tag chip, and does not realize the complex security mechanism, is limited to write lock and password protection and other simple security mechanism. Moreover, the electromagnetic wave energy of the frequency band in the water attenuation serious, so for tracking animals (body contains more than 50% of water) , containing liquid medicine, etc. is not suitable. Low-frequency and high-frequency system read-write distance is small, usually not more than one meter. The high frequency band is used by technically mature contactless smart cards, which can support large memory capacity and complex security algorithms. As mentioned earlier, the operating distance of contactless smart cards is typically around 10 cm due to the communication rate and security requirements. The ISO15693 specification in the high-frequency band increases the communication distance by reducing the communication rate, and the working distance can reach more than 1 meter through large-size antenna and high-power reader. The low frequency band has the lowest communication rate due to the low carrier frequency, which is more than 100 times lower than the high frequency 13.56MHZ, and usually does not support the reading of multiple tags.

How to Determine if You Need an RFID Tracking Solution

With the boom in e-commerce, the need for end-to-end product traceability, visibility, sustainability and smooth operations is growing in most industries. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology provides data in real time, simplifying most tracking operations while reducing human error.
Unlike bar codes, RFID can read multiple tags simultaneously and communicate multiple product information, improving product traceability. End-to-end product traceability begins at the production site and includes information related to in-process tracking, followed by identification alerts for logistical routes in supply chain operations, and finally traceability for after-sales repair, reuse or recycling. Efficient and accurate product visibility through RFID systems helps achieve true transparency, thereby avoiding waste and driving a truly sustainable circular economy.
In addition, RFID technology eliminates customer pain points and has a significant positive impact not only on supply chain operations, but also on the customer experience. From easy checkout scanning to seamless event entry solutions, RFID systems enable companies to adopt efficient measures to enhance the overall customer experience.
Actility offers a wide range of Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID devices in a variety of sizes and technologies. These RFID devices enable you to track each item individually, RFID tags can be read quickly and accurately from long distances using handheld devices, or from short distances using fixed RFID reading devices, Actility’s RFID devices will help you to exceed customer expectations and the demanding technical requirements associated with RFID implementation.
Actility’s RFID systems improve cost saving measures and increase the efficiency of a range of business operations. Our range of RFID products are used in a number of key applications, bringing different economic benefits to a variety of industries including retail, transport and logistics, manufacturing and healthcare.

What do RFID solutions mean?

RFID systems improve operational efficiency across a wide range of business applications.
Discover the potential for process improvement in critical applications.
Supply chain visibility, traceability and overall sustainability: RFID devices can be tracked from the origin of a product’s production and can provide visibility throughout the product’s supply chain cycle.

Inventory Management

RFID devices can improve inventory accuracy and help reduce inventory. By easily identifying and locating items, orders can be fulfilled faster. The ability to read large numbers of RFID tags quickly, duplicate data filtering, and the ability to localize items quickly are key factors for companies to gain greater efficiency.

End-to-End Asset Tracking

RFID devices can uniquely identify a large number of items without the need for visibility. Tracking assets enables workflow optimization and enhances location services and real-time inventory.

Access Control

RFID devices enable convenient, contactless access control.

Security Control

RFID devices enhance security measures by detecting the location of assets and preventing them from leaving their intended location or being in unauthorized areas.

Deploying RFID systems can create important benefits in business operations

Various ways to measure efficiency while maintaining an efficient workflow with RFID devices.

Accelerate Manufacturing Processes

RFID devices are used to speed up manufacturing processes in receiving, part assembly, pallet/parts tracking, inventory management, and verification of unfinished shipments.

Accelerate Logistics Operations

RFID devices enable companies to improve identification and verification of shipping/receiving, returnable shipping item (RTI) Tracking, and overall visibility status throughout the logistics cycle.

Streamline and Optimize Retail Store Operations

RFID devices enable retailers to improve the visibility and accuracy of their most important and largest investment – their inventory. Whether in-store or in-store, real-time inventory management enables real-time stocking and delivery, which is a competitive advantage for any form of retailer.
When using RFID devices for instant merchandise distribution, store associates can instantly locate merchandise and enhance customer service from anywhere in the store.
RFID devices designed for desktop integration can read all items in an entire basket at the same time, speeding up the checkout process.

Ensure security and accuracy in the healthcare industry

RFID devices offer the benefits associated with real-time identification and location data tracking of people and resources, saving healthcare organizations time and costs.
The efficiencies gained by using RFID devices in patient care improve patient safety and reduce misidentification issues.
Proper handling of surgical instruments, medications, and blood samples/specimens can be ensured through the robust tracking capabilities provided in RFID devices.
RFID devices provide accurate medication and laboratory inventories, a key component to ensure medications are available when patients need them.

How to get the most out of an RFID solution

Animal Tracking and Management

Animal tracking and management traditionally is the use of low-frequency frequency band of radio frequency identification technology, and there are international norms specification code and space signal interface, the corresponding international norms are ISO11784 and ISO11785. because high-frequency and low-frequency radio frequency identification technology have advantages and disadvantages, so now the international about animal tracking management frequency band also has a debate. The reasons supporting the adoption of low-frequency technology solution are mainly.

  • (1) The fact that the existence of international norms, compatibility requirements.
  • (2) If use single antenna solution, usually low frequency system than high frequency system read and write distance to 20% to 30%. Because the low-frequency system data rate is low, so the power consumption of the tag chip can be done below micro-watt.
  • (3) Although the low-frequency system data transmission rate is low, but in view of its signal robustness, in the actual application of reading efficiency is not low.
  • (4) The low frequency system can penetrate the animal tissue, is the only frequency choice for the implantable electronic tag.

And support high-frequency technology program mainly for the following reasons.

  • (1) The international standard ISO11784 animal coding method can completely realize in the high frequency and ultra-high frequency band solution, in the application and the system level does not seem to exist difference.
  • (2) Due to the frequency difference, low frequency tags require winding wire-wound inductors to form the tag antenna, and the cost of making the tag is higher than that of high frequency tags. High-frequency tags usually only have to be wound about 3 turns for credit card size and can be printed using a low-cost printing process. The overall cost of HF tags is much lower. This is an accepted fact.
  • (3) If the realization is reasonable, the high frequency system also can obtain and the low frequency system equivalent read-write distance. And the high frequency read-write can through the door type antenna to control the action range, facilitates the accurate and fast realization data acquisition.
  • (4) Complete anti-collision mechanism, can quickly and accurately realize multi-target reading. Efficiency and accuracy are higher than using low-frequency handhelds for data acquisition.
  • (5) The frequency use of high frequency has become a unified global norm, and the adoption of high frequency systems will not face compatibility problems around the world.

The editors are more supportive of the technical solution of using HF in the tracking management of animals that do not require RFID implantation, such as pigs. The main reason is based on the cost of the system considerations. The price and profit margin of agricultural products in China are very low, and the cost of hardware consumption in animal tracking management such as hogs is mainly from the tags. High frequency technology should be used from reducing this part of cost. At the same time, considering the production units such as pig breeding usually do not have broadband connection electronic tags may not only store a tag number information, but also may store certain related data. And high-frequency solutions in common storage space can reach more than 1K bits. Second, at present, our main RFID infrastructure is based on high-frequency technology, the use of compatible technology systems in terms of installation costs and reliability are advantageous. High-frequency technology from the chip, tag packaging, read-write machine, system integration and other links, China has hundreds of suppliers, which is not comparable to low-frequency technology. In addition, in the pig management and other applications, does not need to implantable electronic tag, can use the animal ear tag form. Of course, in animal tracking management using high-frequency technology program and traditional high-frequency radio frequency system is still different, need to reduce the environment on the operating distance, special read-write equipment development to carry out research and development work, make the high-frequency technology in the operating distance and reliability to achieve system requirements.

Drug management

Even today in 2006, experts still think in the field of consumer goods to achieve the item level tracking management or a need 3 to 5 years to be possible to achieve the goal. However, the adoption of RFID technology for single-item management of relatively high-value pharmaceutical products is already a reality that is happening. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the entire process of tracking and management of pharmaceutical products be achieved in 2007, from raw materials to home medicine box. For the single product management of drug management, it seems that the use of high frequency technology currently has more comprehensive advantages, specifically.

  • (1) HF and UHF both realize energy and signal transmission through electromagnetic field, UHF is energy and signal transmission through electric field, the system generally works in the far field, for the single item in close proximity, the label detuning will cause the label (item) To miss reading. The high-frequency system is working in the near-field range (that is, the electromagnetic field is still bound inside the system, and did not form electromagnetic waves emitted) energy and signal is carried out through the magnetic field, for the system inside the tag can be accurately identified (of course, the role of the distance is only within 1 meter) , there is better resistance to electromagnetic interference ( ElectromagneticInterference, EMI) ability.
  • (2) The influence of liquid and metal. High-frequency signal than the UHF in terms of attenuation in water is small, more suitable for use in containers containing liquid, and a significant part of the drug is in liquid form.
  • (3) Storage capacity, the storage capacity of high frequency tags can reach 8K bytes, so you can store more information on the tag to achieve a “mobile database” rather than just an electronic number. This in the current UHF solution has not such a large capacity of the electronic label.
  • (4) High frequency 13.56MHZ for the international common ISM frequency band, no compatibility problems. And the UHF so far global not all areas have the corresponding radio frequency recognition label band can use. Our country’s UHF band is in the process of development.


In summary, each frequency band of RFID technology has its own characteristics. Even in the same frequency band of the radio frequency identification system, its communication distance is also very different. We can’t simply think that a certain frequency band’s RFID system’s working distance is greater than another frequency band’s RFID system. Instead, when actually choosing an RFID system, we need to consider the overall cost of an RFID system, as well as the memory capacity, security features and other factors, according to which we can comprehensively choose the appropriate RFID frequency band.
Actility provides RFID solutions for logistics, retail, manufacturing, anti-counterfeiting and food applications, as well as smart card, access control and time and attendance solutions.

SourceChina RFID solutions provider – Actility Technologies Company Limited (www.tractility.com)

Actility provides powerful security solutions for retail store management to prevent asset and property losses, improve transaction security, and provide intelligent analysis. We produce AM/EM/RFID systems, EAS tags, EAS soft tags, EAS safer, lanyards, detachers and all kinds EAS accessories products. Infrared people counter and camera people counter is available. If you want to have more information about the article or you want to share your opinion with us, contact us at [email protected]



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