Branches of Application
It's not only about consumer goods
Industries and companies, whether global or local, large or small, are testing and using RFID for tracking goods and improving their processes and services. This brings consumers immediate benefits. For instance, RFID can make sure the full range of sizes and colours of particular coats are available all the time. Would you like to know more about that washing-machine which you have your eye on? RFID in shops can help provide you with additional product information.
RFID may be a favourite technology of the retail and consumer goods sectors, but there are no limits to its possible applications in any industry.
Fighting counterfeit medicines
In healthcare, hospitals are using RFID to track blood products and medicine and match them with patients who wear RFID-enabled bracelets. This helps nurses know for sure that they are giving the right patient the right treatment at the right time.
Even before your medication arrives at your hospital, it may have been tagged with RFID by the pharmaceutical producer. Indeed, knowing the "history" of a given medicine can help companies ensure no problems occur during the lengthy distribution process from the manufacturing plant to your local pharmacy.
Companies lose billions of euros a year in revenues and thousands of people in the European Union and many more around the world are put at risk because of counterfeit medicines. RFID can reduce counterfeiting, help pharmaceutical manufacturers improve quality control and save lives.
Travel and logistics are also popular fields for RFID applications. Would you like to pay for your bus ticket with your mobile phone so that you don’t have to search for change? RFID-based technology makes this possible. Travellers have a constant fear that their luggage will be lost of held up somewhere. Well, RFID is helping airports and airlines reduce the risk of this happening. These are some of the more recent applications of RFID. Older uses include automated toll lanes that allow you to pass through them without stopping or keyless entry systems for your car.
Food and nutrition
Then there’s food and nutrition. RFID systems that include tags equipped with temperature sensors can be used to monitor and record how cold it was in the back of the truck when your fish was being shipped from the coast to your store’s distribution centre. A vibration sensor combined with an RFID tag might confirm that your exotic fruit has not been damaged. Or a dairy goods producer might choose to let RFID monitor its production line to ensure that your brie cheese is ripened to perfection.
Free time and work time
What about your free time? How can RFID improve your life during your time off? One company has developed an application to help recover stolen boats. Similarly, an Italian bicycle maker tags bikes to discourage theft. Resorts use RFID-based systems for tracking on-site, cash-free purchases. RFID can also be used to find lost golf balls! But even if you have little to do with golf, think about the use of RFID in bookshops and public libraries. Isn’t it nice to find books properly shelved and be able to check out or purchase them quickly? The list of examples is endless. RFID helps ski resorts keep queues to a minimum, and sports fans appreciate the use of RFID for crowd control in stadiums.
Back at the office or on the warehouse floor, companies use RFID to locate file folders and manage archives or to pick goods quickly from warehouse shelves. The manager of your building may even be using RFID to oversee cleaning and maintenance procedures. For instance, RFID tagged carpets can tell robot-controlled vacuums where to clean.
Already, RFID is used in thousands of clever and creative ways. But it is just the beginning for this exciting and emerging technology: The possibilities are as endless as human creativity.
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