Inside RFID: The Technology Behind the Tag

What makes up an RFID tag?

The RFID tags are composed of an integrated circuit (IC)
that is attached by small coils of wires. These circuits are usually protected
by an exterior packaging which is usually made up of a plastic material. 

RFID tags come in various forms and sizes; some of which can
be as small as a grain of rice. Their data is stored in their integrated
circuit and transmitted through the antenna to a reader.

Tags can have different functionalities when their data is
transmitted. For example, some tags may be read-only where the user can only see what information is displayed when read. Other tags may be able to be read as well as written where the user can make changes or add information within the tag. 

What kind of memory is available on an RFID chip?

There are 3 memory banks that are available on an RFID chip; these are the EPC, the TID and finally the user memory bank.

EPC stands for Electronic Product Code, and it is a unique number that identifies the specific item in the supply chain. This is the license plate number that you use in business to business transactions. An example for this is when a supplier sends an item to the customer; they will use that EPC number from the memory bank in order to identify the item.

The second type of memory is the TID which stands for transponder identification. This is a non-writable memory bank that is put on by the chip manufacturer that uniquely identifies that particular chip irrespective of what might be written on the other memory banks.

Finally, there is the user memory which is basically wide open for the user to put whatever information they want. It could be a lot number, a manufacture code or perhaps the date this item was last serviced. It’s just there for any additional information they want to carry on the tag.


How does a Zebra RFID printer actually work?

At the time of printing a label, three things happen before the tag is even printed:

The first step is that the printer is going to read the tag to make sure it’s present. The second step is that the printer is going to write the data into the tag that it is instructed to. Finally, the third step is that the printer is going to read the tag again in order to confirm that the writing was successful.

If any one of these three steps happens to fail, the printer will actually print void on the label and try again on the next one.

By doing so, you can ensure that the RFID tag that you are printing works and won’t cause problems in the future. 


What are typical applications for RFID?

Uniquely identifying a product and following it as it moves are one of the main reasons why RFID technologies are implemented for businesses. By tracking specimens in healthcare, controlling inventories in retail or making sure that the appropriate shipment came from transport are just some of the examples of the many applications that RFID tags have.

RFID technologies come into play when you want to uniquely identify an item but decide to eliminate the labor that is involved when manually writing each order down or you want a faster process than scanning each item with a barcode scanner. You could also expect to see the use of RFID technologies where there is a high volume of items moving quickly. Think about all the cars that pass at more than 50 mph through a toll that automatically charges the driver. The RFID tags placed in your windshield has to be quickly scanned by the reader as you pass through the toll in order to prevent a buildup of cars.

For companies that want to automate the data capturing process, RFID technologies can be the next step that you are looking for.

Which RFID printer-encoder is right for me?

Zebra gives you the industry’s broadest, field-proven RFID portfolio for unmatched accuracy and interoperability. Our premier partnership with the industry’s top RFID suppliers combined with MultiSystems’ systems integration knowledge, guarantees that our customers receive advanced consulting advice on how to plan and integrate RFID on their operations. If you have any questions and are trying to find the best solution for you, feel free to contact us to help find the best solution for you.

To learn more about RFID technologies, visit an upcoming webinar presented by Zebra on October 19.

Keep In Touch

Phone : 

PUR: (787) 751-2720

RD: (809) 472-3646

US: (305) 424-8254

MultiSystems Inc., founded in 1987, is a company dedicated to the integration of technological solutions for manufacturing, business mobility and supply chains. We are a high-tech company that believes in more than just providing a hardware solution, but in offering a complete service which includes the integration of software, training and maintenance. This is why we have become the preferred providers of enterprise mobility, automatic identification, and data collection solutions for more than 1,000 companies, including multiple Fortune 500 companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.