Like every technology solution, you have many choices for hardware. With radio frequency identification (RFID), you’ll need a printer that’s specifically engineered to imprint data on RFID tags, as well as an RFID reader to capture the data (similar to a barcode scanner that reads a barcode label). To zero in on the right choice for you, Avalon Integration wants you to know what to look for in an RFID printer and reader. In our last article, we explained the difference between active and passive RFID tags. Once you’ve made the choice of tags, you need to decide on the RFID printer and reader.

Choose an RFID Printer

ZT410 RFID Printer printing a barcode in a Warehouse

Are you producing a high volume of RFID tags on a daily basis? If so, you need a printer that doesn’t slow you down. Make sure the print speed meets your needs. 

Look for an RFID printer that is compatible with the type of RFID tags you’re producing, like UHF EPC Gen2 or Silverline. Silverline labels are engineered for use on metal surfaces and liquid-filled containers, two materials that can be challenging for RFID, so if you’re labeling these types of products, you must choose an RFID printer that can produce these labels, like the Zebra ZT410 RFID printer customized for Silverline. If mobility is key to working efficiently, you also have the option of a mobile RFID printer. Zebra has developed the ZQ520 RFID printer, a rugged yet compact mobile printer with a military-grade design. With UHF RFID printing and encoding, the ZQ520 can produce RFID labels on-demand, anywhere—ideal for labeling products, cases, and pallets on the go.

Get the right RFID Reader

Worker Scanning Warehouse Barcode Label using an RFID Reader

The RFID reader tunes into the radio frequency—low frequency, high frequency, and ultra-high frequency (UHF)—and grabs the data encoded on an RFID tag within its read zone. RFID readers are available in handheld and fixed styles. A handheld reader allows for mobility, so it’s good for anything from cycle counts to shipping and receiving. Another option is an RFID sled,  which attaches to a mobile device and adds the RFID reader function, an economical way to incorporate RFID for tasks like inventory. A fixed reader is mounted to a wall, pole, or other surfaces. It reads RFID tags that pass within its range. Fixed readers are commonly used in environments that track high volumes of RFID tags, such as warehouses, distribution centers, and yards.

Pick the right RFID Partner

Warehouse Worker using an RFID Reader to Scan a Box Label on a Conveyor Belt

Avalon Integration can guide you to the total RFID solution that fits your business processes and applications. You can count on our experienced, knowledgeable professionals to understand the way you work and identify the factors that lead to making the best choices. Contact us to get more performance and ROI from your RFID technology.

There’s a lot of talk about RFID, but often times the thinking is that the cost outweighs the benefit. For high-volume, large production facilities or distribution centers, RFID can offer clear advantages over traditional barcode solutions. Here’s a look at some of the cases where RFID technology can virtually eliminate many of the challenges presented in a manual or even handheld barcode solution.

High-Volume Warehouses

Busy warehouses and distribution centers can truly benefit from RFID technology when it comes to productivity. Rather than manually scanning items as they are picked, an RFID reader can scan an entire pallet on a forklift when it passes by an RFID reader portal. The reader can be placed in the passageway between work areas to simplify the tracking process and even identify which worker or vehicle carried the items through. Any and all RFID tags that pass through the portal are scanned; enabling quick and reliable transactions without operator involvement.

Frequently Moved Items

Rental goods, service equipment, hand tools—any items that move frequently can be hard to track, but RFID tagging makes it easy. These items can be checked out automatically when they leave the warehouse or tool crib, and it’s easy to locate them later. RFID makes it easy to track the comings and goings of small or fast-moving items without imposing burdensome procedures on the staff. Missing a work tool? A record of the user who last checked it out can easily be tracked when the device contains an RFID tag.

Warehouses Looking for a Productivity Boost with RFID Technology

Barcode scanners use the line of sight to collect information, so the barcode itself must be oriented toward the reader. In a warehouse, when material handlers spend extra time arranging items to be sure the barcodes can be read, that means less time is spent moving on to the next step in the transaction. In addition, dirty, torn or misplaced labels can further slow down the process, costing businesses untold amounts of time and money.

RFID tags can be read from any angle and aa t great distance, so it doesn’t matter how the cartons or bins are placed on pallets. Workers simply pull the inventory they need and proceed to the next step. This improves location accuracy and reduces picking times, increasing the productivity of the warehouse.

Mixed Pallets or Serialized Goods

If you have a varied product mix, you may find that you don’t always ship full pallets of a single item. If you place different items on a pallet when using bar codes, you need to be careful that all labels are easily visible, and operators must take pains to ensure they scan every item. The same holds true for serialized inventory. Every serial number label must be easily visible if you are using barcodes for inventory transactions.

With RFID, the scanner can transact the entire contents of a pallet, regardless of the number of different items or serial numbers on the pallet. This simplifies palletizing goods, increases inventory accuracy and increases productivity because the RFID tag and scanner records the movement of each item simultaneously, without operator involvement.

Reduction in Pilferage

If products are highly desirable or valuable—think jewelry, high-end consumer electronics, designer clothing—using an RFID tag can help reduce pilferage. The scanner automatically records the movement whenever items leave the secure stockroom or warehouse. It can also track the transaction’s date and time, so you can review security footage if it’s available. Whether you have internal security or not, knowing that inventory is tagged helps to reduce temptation. As a result, your inventory shrinkage will be reduced and your margins will increase.

RFID Advantages with RFID Technology

  • RFID technology enables hands-free operation for inventory tracking
  • With RFID, workers can increase the number of transactions performed per day
  • Warehouse productivity and accuracy will improve
  • The hassle and cost of lost, stolen or misplaced inventory or assets are virtually eliminated

For more information on RFID technology for your warehouse, please contact us to schedule a consultation.