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RFID Labels and RFID Hard Tags: Which One to Choose while Implementing RFID?

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Aug 03, 2023
  • RFID
RFID Labels and RFID Hard Tags

The item-level tagging and identification and tracking is what RFID is all about. The RFID technology, even though it is decades old, is now realizing its commercial potential with market share around 18.4 billion USD in 2023 which is further expected to reach 35.6 billion USD by 2030 end that is quite unprecedented. The passive RFID tag market size alone accounts for USD 7.9 billion in market value with 39.3 billion total passive RFID tags being used in various businesses such as retail, supply chain and logistics, manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals etc.

With chipless RFID gaining traction and more advancement in chipless RFID encoding taking place, it is likely that RFID will successfully replace barcodes, the traditional method of item identification on global stage.

If you own a business and want to implement RFID technology in your business, the first thing you need to be sure about is your need and the selection of RFID tags and readers based on that need. RFID tags can be selected on the basis of frequency (LF, HF and UHF) and tracking requirement (active, passive, and BAP i.e. battery assisted passive) but more importantly the environment of tag placement.

Let’s discuss about RFID labels and RFID hard tags and how to select the right kind of RFID tag for your business needs.

RFID Labels

In passive UHF RFID, which is the leading RFID segment in term of use due to high read range and high operating frequency and efficiency, RFID labels are the most popular.

An RFID label tag could be in the form of an RFID inlay or paper or polyester label. In RFID inlay the integrated circuit and antenna is attached on a substrate and the inlay is quite transparent. It’s called dry inlay.  When this inlay comes with some kind of adhesive backing, it is called wet inlay.

And when this inlay is enclosed in a plastic or paper outer casing, it is termed as an RFID label tag.

RFID labels are most suitable for indoor operations, mostly used in retail stores and jewelry stores and inventory control in education, libraries and hospitals. These tags are inexpensive (cost around 3-4 INR or 4-5 US cents) and can be easily replaced. Apart from that, these can be easily attached to any find of surface.

RFID taffeta labels are also available that can be used for linen and laundry management businesses, helping business owners to easily keep records of linen and clothing items with details about the items. These labels are safe on clothes for some finite no. of wash cycles and can be easily replaced.

On shipping packages where the tracking need is only for a short period of time, RFID labels are preferred as a cheap and efficient option.

RFID Hard Tags

Another type of RFID tags that can be used in passive UHF RFID is the RFID hard tags. As the name suggests, RFID hard tags are fabricated using ABS plastic casing and are quite durable even under harsh environment including rain, frost, heat, humidity and other industrial environment factors. However, these tags are quite costly and only used in specific outdoor situation where long time tracking and tracing is required such as supply chain and logistics, warehouse management, warehouse gates, pallets tracking, RTIs (returnable transport items) and container and bin tracking, outdoor wastebin monitoring, Rolling stock and fleet tracking and industrial assembly line movement etc.

RFID hard tags are designed to be quite durable and work great in outdoor conditions. These hard tags cost INR 30 and upwards in comparison to RFID labels which only cost around 3-4 INR.

To conclude, if you are looking to implement RFID system in your business operations, tag selection is a careful process. You need to keep in mind the indoor and outdoor environmental conditions as to rain, frost, sun and wear and tear. Apart from that you need to figure out the tracking needs in terms of frequency and read range. UHF passive RFID tagging has been the most preferred in most operations in businesses such as retail, healthcare, education, supply chain and inventory control etc. The global passive RFID tag market size alone is about 7.9b USD in terms of value and global retail and retail supply chain is the driving factor towards this unprecedented demand and growth.

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  • Created on Aug 03, 2023

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