3 MORE RFID Misconceptions Most People Have

Posted by on Apr 7, 2016 2:47:37 PM

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In our previous post in the series, we focused on some of the most common myths associated with RFID technology. Our aim is to debunk all the negative and positive hype so that people can have a clear understanding of RFID and assess its potential benefits for their operation. Although many of these myths might become a reality as the technology advances, they are currently nothing more than a pipe dream.

1. RFID tags have information on everything, including sensitive personal data 

In one of the recent episodes of a popular TV show, a person with a sub-dermal tag gets murdered. The officer working on the case recognizes the tag and uses it to retrieve the person's work history, picture, college transcripts and more. Identity theft is increasing and consumers are worried more than ever before about their sensitive personal data.

According to this myth, RFID tags offer many mechanisms of invading your privacy. Although this myth makes for good TV, the tags can store only a limited amount of information. Most of the tags can store only up to 256 bits of data. At best, the product code can be used to look up further information in a database, but no RFID tag contains a vast database of sensitive personal information. 

2. RFID generates million TBs of data 

Many estimates have suggested that WalMart's RFID can generate 7 TB of data a day at full deployment. The retail giant has millions of products passing through its supply chains daily. Capturing data at read points for the cases and pallets generates a whole lot more data than what can be collected through barcode. If RFID does generate somuch data, companies worry that they will end up suffocating under a surplus of data.

There are four major pieces of information that are needed for each read – the facility, the EPC, the time/date and the location of the reader. A rough estimate puts the size of a single file at 65 bytes. Let us assume that there are 1 million cases and pallets which move through your supply chain daily.

To be even more liberal with our estimate, let us assume that every single one of those cases passes through 9 read points daily. With the above assumptions in place, the daily size of the database would be just more than half GB, which in reality is exponentially less than the rumored number. It is true that RFID generates more data. Storage is not a big problem. Companies must instead be focusing on mining the data for business value.

3. You need 100 percent readability at the read sites for the technology to be useful 

One of the most prevalent myths holds that for RFID tags to be effective, all tagged units must be seen at all potential read points in the supply chain. Uninformed people think that if a 'read' is missed on a case or pallet, the inventory counts will end up being inaccurate. So, naysayers ask that if it cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy, then what's the point?

Theoretically, it is possible to read all the tagged units at all read points in the chain. However, it might not be possible practically. There are many things which can cause a missed read, like a person walking in between the reader and the tagged product, two cases passing side by side and more.

Rather than concentrating on achieving theoretical perfection, the two main focus questions should be - Were the tagged units seen somewhere? Can you construct a life-cycle from the points where it was seen? If you can, you have all you need. 

We hope this post clarifies some of the erroneous myths about the RFID technology. If you have more questions, feel free to drop a comment in the section below and we will clear it up for you.

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