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Is RFID an Option for your Facility?

RFID offers a number of benefits for tracking assets without burdening the workforce by enabling employees to virtually manage the flow of goods hands-free.  This saves countless hours, especially for forklift operators, because all they have to do is physically pass items through an RFID portal in order to track the movement of those goods from one location to another.

RFID Challenges
RFID is not able to actively pass through certain materials, making it difficult to accurately track the movement of goods.  With metals, for example, radio waves tend to bounce around, making it difficult to get accurate readings.  Liquids are also tricky to work with because the signals can easily get absorbed (this is not always the case, but something to be considered).  Of course, the label, tag and technology in general is improving, but the best way to determine whether it will work for your liquid products is to conduct several tests to see how it reacts.

We often receive calls from companies who are interested in the concept of RFID for their facility and they simply assume that it’s a matter of figuring out the cost and then deciding whether to move forward.  Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as that because your environment may not be conducive to using RFID technology.  That’s why Barcom offers RFID testing. 

For some organizations, combining both RFID and bar code technologies make a more suitable combination for particular areas of the facility or type of items that need to be tracked.  We can help you determine which approach is best.  If you’re considering this technology for your warehouse, manufacturing facility or distribution center, here’s a bit of info about the testing process:

What’s involved with RFID testing?
Using a portable RFID portal that we developed, we are able to conduct RFID site surveys and present a proof of concept with evidence to support whether this technology is appropriate for your operation. In some cases it is, and in other cases it may not be.  In situations where RFID is not ideal for 100% of the use cases, we may recommend bar code automation or even a mix of both technologies.  

Testing requires a number of scenarios, based on standard procedures for palletizing, receiving, etc. to determine whether or not the RFID tags can be easily read.  In some cases, we intentionally position the products that are tagged so they are not visible from any angle.  We do this during testing to see whether or not the reader can accurately detect the correct number of items on a cart or pallet.  Occasionally, an organization may have to modify processes in order for the reader to consistently read each tag accurately.

Testing Prep
Before we can test your area to ensure reliable performance, there are a few decisions that need to be made so the evaluation process can go smoothly.

  1. What is the current workflow?
  2. What items/materials will the RFID tags and/or labels adhere to?
  3. Is the work area isolated from people or other objects that may interfere with the RFID tags being read? If not, we may use shielding to prevent the system from inadvertently reading other tagged items.
  4. Will racks or other structures possibly cause interference?

The testing process has many parts, one of which involves measurement of the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator).   This is the value that is returned from the tag to the reader.   In order to increase reliability, we may have to adjust the transmit power and receive sensitivity of the reader.  These adjustments will keep us from reading tags outside the desired area. We measure RSSI (power readings) as well as the amount of power loss.

We can help you define the answers to these questions, and we can even make recommendations for workflow improvements to make RFID technology a desirable and cost-effective method for your warehouse moving forward.

Interested in finding out if RFID is right for you?  You may qualify for a free site survey! Contact our team today to learn more.


4136B Jersey Pike, Chattanooga, TN 37421

Phone (423) 855-1822 | Fax (423) 499-6317



BARCOM, INC.  •  •  423-855-1822