The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken over the technology world, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Internet of Things has the potential to transform supply chain visibility as we know it, ushering in a new era of data intelligence and accessibility.
Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices that allows data about each device to be accessed, collected, and exchanged, allowing complete, real-time visibility and control of any item that is connected to the Internet.
A well-designed and properly deployed passive RFID system can make almost any type of “thing” (asset) visible to the Internet.
There are literally thousands of different types of RFID tags on the market today. RFID tags have progressed over the last ten years. Sensitivity has risen in tandem with reading ranges. There are tags designed specifically for metal, liquid, paint, and almost any other material you can think of. They are available in a variety of memory capacities and configurations, allowing each tag to be uniquely identified. Suffice it to say, there is an RFID tag for almost every type of “thing” in our world today.
RFID tags communicate with RFID readers using the radio frequency waves transmitted to them. And although you cannot practically assign an IP address to an RFID tag, the tags are encoded (programmed) with an ID that uniquely identifies it to a particular business or organization. With this understanding, you can begin to understand how placing passive RFID tags on inanimate objects, or “things,” allows these assets to become visible to the Internet, further enabling the vision of the “Internet of Things.”
The RFID middleware is a critical component of a passive RFID system. This critical software component is responsible for configuring and controlling RFID readers. It receives and processes RFID tag data from readers and sends RFID tag events to business systems like ERP, and/or WMS.
Now that things are visible to the Internet using RFID, we can use the technology to report what those assets are doing. This means that we can use RFID to report the movement of things through a business process. The RFID middleware has powerful filtering algorithms that allow us to configure the RFID system to only report RFID tag data when important business events occur.
A shipping application is an example of this; as a shipment is staged to be loaded on a truck, the RFID system captures each item as it is staged at the shipping dock. Once the shipment has been staged, it can be checked against a bill of lading to ensure that it is complete. As the items are loaded onto the truck, the RFID system will detect them and report them as “On Truck” by observing them move through a dock door portal. Another example would be tracking high-value assets like tools. An RFID system can see the location of an important tool and report on its movement from location to location.
You can now see how passive RFID technology helps to enable the Internet of Things. Overall, important assets can be tracked and utilized more effectively. It is safe to say that incorporating RFID technology into the Internet of Things can and will enable businesses to achieve operational and financial levels of performance never before seen.
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