RFID is transforming the processes involved in supply chain management, by offering an alternative to manual systems of keeping track of supplies, loading details, delivery and so on. RFID will update the entire system and make the entire process smooth and error-free. This will also entail cost cutting, quality control and faster operation with precious man hours saved.
For consumers, RFID will imply benefits like their unique identities, their preferences, etc. getting accommodated in stores, and they may not require keeping invoices to exchange goods purchased. It could mean creating smart appliances that run on the basis of stored information on other RFID tags.
These tags can be thin enough to implant on a piece of paper, and can therefore be lodged in currency notes, driving licenses or identity cards, passports and so on. The tags can be read from a distance and do not need to be directly in the line of sight to be identified like barcodes. The vast application possibilities of RFID make it not just the barcodes of the future but also ideal for the whole range of wireless computing devices. It opens avenues left untouched by the World Wide Web and an RFID tagged and networked world would be even more advanced and better connected.
The phenomenal potential of RFID has yet to be tapped. For the present, RFID technology is used for the following:
EZ Pass-payment at tollways - Vehicles have a pass or card attached to a windscreen, and each time it crosses the entry point at the tollway, a certain amount is automatically deducted from the prepaid account.
Library book tracking helps to ease the process of book borrowing and returning. Self-checkout puts an end to waiting in queues, where the RFID tag’s anti-theft chip is deactivated.
Building access control - Badges are issued to people allowed to enter and once scanned, the badge owner is allowed to enter.
Animal identification can be particularly helpful in keeping track of numbers and identities.
Identifying people in hospitals and gain access to their identity, contact information, treatment, problems, whereabouts and the physician supervising their treatment and so on.
The current trends indicate a very rapid pace of growth for RFID tags. 600 million tags were sold in 2005 and trends reveal that the numbers in 2010 will be over 200 times this figure. This is to be expected since RFID has moved beyond supply chain and logistics to make inroads into sectors like manufacturing, processing, medicines, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. Benefits for the producer and the consumer are involved and reduction in costs and time are the biggest advantages.
The future for RFID is dotted with problems as well, with ever increasing skepticism about the security aspect, since it opens all confidential information to the world at-large. Customer anonymity is of crucial importance and the new developing RFID technology is likely to focus on theses concerns, to ensure its success in the years to come.