RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION (RFID) TECHNOLOGY is fast becoming one of the most important technologies that industrial engineering students need to master. Due to mandates in the supply chain from various retail industry and government agencies, it has become crucial that new graduates understand the different technologies and the best ways to implement them. RFID is an emerging technology that demands adequate training in the technology from traditional educational outlets.
IE professionals are in a unique position to lead the RFID industrial revolution. Their education in project management, engineering economy and production planning and inventory control provides the necessary components to integrate all of the hardware and software inherent in RFID systems successfully. The objective of this article is to provide a road map for industrial engineering faculty to introduce RFID technology into their educational and training curricula. IE professionals can also use this approach to integrate RFID technology into their operations successfully. This road map includes: a basic introduction to RFID technologies, educational approaches showing how RFID tools modernize and apply to IE principles and the demonstration of current research and applications.
The fundamental idea is that IEs are in a key position to use RFID technologies to reduce cost, improve productivity and create higher efficiencies in the supply chain. IE principles connecting inventory control through production planning, labor management through scientific management and effective decision making through operations research should enable these results across industry to be achieved.
As with other types of automatic identification systems, an RFID system requires a number of interrelated components including a set of tags, one or more antennas, and a reader. A basic RFID system is illustrated in Figure. 1.
Tags are the devices attached to the items or material the RFID system is intended to track. The tags may be placed directly on individual items such as consumer goods, or on shipping containers or pallets that hold multiple items. Tags come in assorted shapes and sizes. They may be classified as simple passive tags or more sophisticated active tags. Passive tags do not contain an internal power source while active tags do, which allows for greater range and capabilities. Each tag possesses an individual identification number. More sophisticated tags may also record and transmit environment and location data as well. When activated by the RFID antenna/reader, the RFID tag transmits the identification number along with any other data it may contain.
The RFID reader device creates an electromagnetic signal that is transmitted to the RFID tags through one or more antennas. Under normal operation, the reader continuously transmits the electromagnetic signal in search of one or more RFID tags. The RFID reader also performs the function of monitoring for electromagnetic signals from the tags via the same antenna.
The function of the antenna is to transmit and receive electromagnetic signals between the tags and the reader. The effective electromagnetic field that the antenna transmits is known as the interrogation zone, where the antenna creates a three-dimensional space that is used...
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