Here we provide a guide to RFID solutions, including a definition of the term, how it works, and a guide to top companies in the UK offering personnel and asset tracking systems with this technology.
What is RFID?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification and is a technology used for tracking of high-value assets, personnel or even animals. ID data is encoded within an RFID tag or badge that can then be located and monitored by a reader / scanner.
The principle is similar to that of barcoding systems, but a key advantage of RFID tags and scanners is that you don’t need to place them up close for the data to be read – they can be out of sight from each other. The tag / badge and the RFID scanner could even be in different rooms within a building or used for monitoring across a site.
How Does RFID Work?
An RFID badge or tag contains a small, lightweight circuit for recording data and an internal antenna for communication with a reader. There are different types – the relatively cheap ‘passive’ RFID tag, needs to be powered-up by a reader, contains just ID and basic data recorded on its internal chip, and tends to work over short distances – typically up to 6 or 7 metres. A common example of a passive RFID tag is a personnel ID card that you need to touch onto a reader in order to gain access to a room or building.
By contrast, ‘active’ RFID tags contain there own battery power supply (which in some cases can be charged by solar panels), contain additional electronics that allow them to perform more functions, like collecting movement or environmental data, and can communicate over greater distances – often 30 metres or more. This difference enables active RFID tracking to deliver constant monitoring of personnel or assets in real time. Such systems are useful if you need to track the location of high-value assets like medical equipment across a hospital site or lone workers within an underground tunnel network.
Here’s a diagram of how RFID works:
Source: Active RFID from Real Time Location in Yorkshire.
RFID Advantages vs Barcodes and Satellite Tracking
RFID tags can hold much more data than barcodes and should prove much sturdier than barcode labels, which can rip or become damaged by moisture. As discussed above, and particularly in the case of active RFID tags, tracking is possible over much greater distances – up to 100 metres – and if greater distances need to be monitored, multiple readers can be deployed to monitor a broad area.
While satellite tracking can be highly effective for tracking large assets, such as ships and cargo, globally, this can be less effective if an asset is within a building or even underground, where satellite signals can not penetrate. This makes RFID more effective for tracking people or assets within buildings or within underground tunnels – ideal for lone worker safety and security. RFID solutions are also generally much cheaper than satellite tracking systems.
Top RFID Solutions Companies in the UK
Real Time Location
This company based in Yorkshire provides tags, readers and RFID software systems to some of the best-known brands in the UK and worldwide.
Their impressive client base has included the likes of retail giant – ebay, the Ministry of Justice and infrastructure services company – Stobart Group.
Real Time Location Ltd
Unit 4, Maple Court
Tel: +44 (0)1226 805 960
Visit realtimelocation.co.uk to learn more.
An international manufacturer and supplier of a complete range of solutions to identify and protect people, products and places.
Brady design products and services to serve a range of sectors, including aviation, automotive, oil and gas, electrical, food and beverage, and telecom.
Wildmere Industrial Estate
Tel: +44 (0) 1295 228 288
Technology Solutions (UK) Ltd
Suppliers of mobile RFID solutions. TSL offers a wide range of mobile UHF, HF and LF RFID readers for all applications.
Technology Solutions (UK) Ltd specialises in the design, development and manufacture of radio frequency identification (RFID) readers and other multi-technology, mobile device peripherals for identifying and tracking personnel, data and products.
Loughborough Technology Centre
Tel: +44 (0)1509 238248
A provider of all types of RFID Solution. A professional team of RFID consultants with expertise in Business needs analysis and understanding.
IBEAM INFOSOFT is a global full-cycle software development company with niche expertise and focus on the working with the latest technologies. They deliver high quality software and bespoke e-business solutions for today’s fast-changing, competitive world.
79 College Road
Tel: +44 (0) 203 500 2230
Experts in RFID Solutions, Consultancy & Systems Development
RFIDiom is a specialist RFID, NFC & Auto-ID Consultancy and Solution Development company. They can help you by Evaluating, Designing, Developing and Implementing efficient, cost-effective and performance-driven products and services. Small, medium and large businesses and organisations can all benefit from their RFID, NFC & Auto-ID technology.
North Mersey Business Centre
99 Woodward Road
Tel: (+44) 0151 5481 850
CoreRFID delivers RFID systems to identify, assign, audit and track assets and personnel. The company can help you use RFID to improve logistics, engineering, manufacturing and construction.
CoreRFID use Radio frequency identification to equip businesses with opportunities to create systems that link automatically to the world around them.
West Lancashire Investment Centre
White Moss Business Park
Tel: +44 (0)845 071 0985
This company helps clients to get leaner by capturing product details with RFID to improve efficiency.
Their business focuses on RFID software and products for productivity improvement in multiple business areas. They help to tackle common production and logistical chain issues to speed up business cycles.
Unit 1, Office 8
Stephen Gray Road
Bromfield Commercial Park
Tel: +44(0)1352 752044
RFID solutions from Zebra include readers, antennas, and printers give you more visibility into your inventory as it moves through the supply chain.
Zebra empowers those on the front line of healthcare, transport & logistics, retail, manufacturing and other sectors to help clients find an edge that translates to happy customers, good patient outcomes and better business results.
4th Floor, Drury Works
161 Drury Lane
Tel: +44 (0)1628 556 000
This company provides the tools, and support that apparel, footwear and accessories businesses need to implement Electronic Product Code (EPC) enabled RFID item-level tagging for their day to day operations.
Global GS1 standards make it faster, cheaper and safer for clients to focus on serving their customers, safe in the knowledge that their product locations are being accurately tracked.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7092 3500