When considering an RFID application for the enterprise, companies in the manufacturing and supply chain industries must make a critical decision as to implement High Frequency (HF) or Ultra High Frequency (UHF) systems.
HF protocols have been in existence longer than UHF -- the UHF Gen 2 standard was ratified on December 16, 2004. This new standard was developed to deliver the features needed to provide the enterprise-class functions required to support the ubiquitous adoption of RFID. It makes RFID easier to deploy on a large-scale basis.
UHF Gen 2 has enjoyed such a rapid development cycle, however, that many of the perceptions of UHF are not current.
Six RFID vendors have collaborated on a white paper to provide educational information on UHF RFID technology, and to examine the suitability of UHF RFID for item-level applications. The vendors behind the white paper include ADT/Tyco Fire & Security, Alien, Impinj, Intel, Symbol and Xterprise. While the paper looks specifically at the pharmaceutical industry, the findings are quite relevant to general manufacturing and supply chain companies.
The companies examine the myths associated with UHF for item-level RFID applications -- and the physics and real-world tests and implementations that disprove them, illustrating that the "near-field" use of UHF Gen 2:
- Can and does work on and in liquids.
- Not only works on metal, but is able to effectively utilize the metal for improved performance.
- Is easily constrained to the controlled read ranges necessary in item-level applications.
- Enables the smallest of tags for the smallest of items, with complete form-factor flexibility.
- Can offer the same level of security as HF system.
- Tags can be read in very close proximity -- even when tags are actually touching.
- Is effectively impervious to noise.
- Provides superior enterprise-level read rates -- up to 500% higher than HF read rates.
- Does not present any increased safety risks associated with altering the chemical makeup of medicines.
In addition to the above technical capabilities, this paper also addresses the major strategic business requirements for RFID systems, and how UHF elegantly and completely addresses those issues, including:
- The ability to provide a single platform for item, case and pallet level RFID applications, eliminating the need for multiple RFID infrastructures -- resulting in significant efficiencies in cost and inventory visibility from the point of manufacture to the point of sale.
- Why UHF RFID tags are less costly than HF tags.
- The ability to match the speed of your operations today, eliminating any impact on profitability due to the implementation of RFID.
- How and why it is the UHF Gen 2 standard that will provide the true foundation and cost efficiencies required to bring the vision of a single global RFID network for worldwide supply chain visibility to fruition.
The companies behind this white paper aim to drive informed dialogue around UHF and its suitability for scalable implementations. To view the paper visit: www.pharmaceuticalonline.com/uhf
Joe White is vice president of product management and tag engineering for Symbol Technologies, Inc.'s RFID Division. Symbol Technologies, Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and services products and systems used in enterprise mobility solutions. It offers data capture, mobile computing, wireless infrastructure, radio frequency identification, and mobility software products and systems that capture, move and manage information in real time to and from the point of business activity. Symbol's website is located at www.symbol.com.
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