Recent Innovations in Passive RFID Tags Drive New Asset Tracking Applications

October 24, 2012 Scot Stelter

2012 continues to see a drumbeat of innovation in passive RFID tags. At RFID Journal’s recent RFID in High Tech conference held in Silicon Valley last Thursday, we got a first look at Xerafy’s new small form factor Titanium Metal Skin tag. At less than 45 x 6 mm, it’s small enough to fit on the skinny side of a cell phone, and like its larger predecessors, it works on metal and can be printed in a standard thermal printer.

Xerafy's Metal Skin passive RFID tags have many applications

This tag joins a growing list of durable, metal-friendly tags from vendors like Confidex and Omni-ID that are gradually edging out active and WiFi tags from many asset tracking applications. Last month, Confidex announced their Confidex Windshield Label, and Omni-ID announced their new, printable IQ 400 and IQ 600 tags. A key innovation common to all these tags is the ability to print and encode them on-site and just-in-time.

These tags achieve their impressive size/performance gains thanks to innovative RF antenna expertise. With Monza tag chips inside, they exhibit exceptional range and readability, making them ideal for applications that were previously unserved or addressed by more expensive active RFID technology.

Tolling applications use Confidex's Windshield label

These new, reader-powered, battery-free, passive tags cost a fraction of what a battery-powered, active or WiFi tag might cost, and require no maintenance. And the small size of these tags means they now fit on a variety of assets where tagging was impractical before. As a result we’re discovering a growing list of businesses where passive RFID can reduce the cost of asset tracking and management.

An early adopter of passive RFID has been the banking and financial sector, where new regulations impose strict guidelines for consumer privacy and financial reporting. For example, Sarbanes Oxley, known commonly as SOX, requires all corporations to accurately report on capital assets. In the banking sector, several state and federal laws, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and California Senate Bill 1386 impose strict rules regarding protection of customer privacy. These and other regulations require corporations to track IT assets more accurately than before. Initial attempts to address this need were based on active tags, but UHF passive tags have proven to deliver sufficient range at a much lower cost.

Omni-ID's new RFID tags can track many types of assets

Other markets require more rugged tags that can survive shock and extremes of temperature and humidity. Tags are available that can be strapped, bolted and even welded onto metal objects such as tanks, pipes, tools and equipment. These are being used to track assets in healthcare, heavy industry, oil and gas and transportation sectors.

We’re seeing a growth surge in asset tracking as a result of the availability of these new tags.

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