RFID Frequently Asked Questions

Tracking assets has been Metalcraft’s primary market since 1950 and we view RFID as another tracking technology for us to accomplish this. So it comes as no surprise that we get asked a lot of questions about RFID related to asset tracking; therefore, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Why would I use RFID for tracking assets?

Organizations face significant time and cost challenges to track the location, quantity, condition, maintenance, and depreciation status of their fixed and mobile assets. RFID is a very fast and efficient approach that doesn’t require line of site in order to read the serial number programmed to the tag that is associated with the asset.

Other advantages include the ability to read numerous tags at once instead of one at a time as with other automated identification technologies such as bar code. Data redundancy is also an advantage, i.e. programming the same number into the bar code as the RFID tag or you could actually program two different numbers and track different information.

How and where do you attach RFID tags on wood, plastic and metal objects?

Each material requires a slightly different approach to ensure proper adhesion of the RFID tag to the asset. For example, wood can be rough and requires a thicker adhesive that can flow into the pores and grain of the wood to “wet the surface” and create a powerful, long-lasting bond.

Plastic materials require low surface energy acrylic adhesives that wet out on the smooth surface.

For metal surfaces a special RFID tag is necessary. Metalcraft offers an entire family of on-metal RFID tags to meets your project's needs. 

My assets are stacked in cardboard boxes in our warehouse and trucks. Where is the best place to attach a tag so I can be sure to read all of the items?

The answer first depends on the contents of the boxes. Wood, paper and plastic items in boxes are relatively easy to read, but should still be tested on-site. Metallic and liquid contents present more of a challenge and will require a more specialized tag, i.e. Metalcraft’s Universal RFID Asset Tag and testing to see how items packed in a box impact read range and read rates. In some cases, the size or shape of the box may need to change to make sure each part with an RFID label is electronically visible from the outside of the larger box.

In general, is there a “best” location to attach the tags?

The best place to put an RFID tag is an area that is electronically in the line of sight for the radio frequency waves to travel from the reader to the tag and return. RF waves can travel through dry wood, paper and plastic; but not metal or liquids. This means you can put a tag inside or under wooden furniture and cabinets and still read from above; however, you can’t put RFID tags inside metal cabinets and expect it to work.

Does “noise” from equipment in the area affect the read range of the tags?

Radio frequency (RF) noise is usually not a problem in most facilities; however, this should not be assumed and testing is highly recommended. This is also one of the benefits of working with an integrator who can help diagnose any of these issues and design a system that will minimize the interference.