RFID Basics: Active vs. Passive

RFID-curl-label-DSCN0883-150x150RFID technology is showing up in many different applications and users are reaping the benefits. But just like any other type of technology, you need to consider how RFID works so that you can use it effectively.
RFID is actually two different technologies: Active RFID and Passive RFID. Each has its own capabilities and advantages. Both use radio frequency engery to enable communication between a tag and a reader, but each uses a different method of powering the tag.
Active RFID uses a small battery in the tag to continuously power the tag. Passive RFID tags rely on the RF energy transmitted to it from the reader for power. Therefore, a Passive RFID tag needs strong signals from a reader and returns a low signal strength. Active RFID tags do not have these constraints; the signal strength from the tag to the reader is high because of the tag’s battery. These simple differences determine how RFID can function as a tool for your business.  
Typical applications in which you would use Active RFID include collecting real-time inventory data in a warehouse, or scanning multiple packages through dock doors. In these applications, multiple tagged items are monitored over large areas or scanned as they move through a facility. The Active RFID tag can store 128K bytes, has a longer communication range, and can quickly collect data from multiple tags. Active RFID can also power an internal real-time clock to apply an accurate date/time stamp to each recorded event.
Applications in which you would select Passive RFID include tracking cartons moving along a conveyor, or simple vehicle identification where vehicles stop or can slow down at a reader. The Passive RFID offers a lower-cost option, and is the right technology when data storage is not required and asset movement is constrained.
Since Active and Passive RFID have different capabilities, they can address different areas of supply chain visibility. If you are looking to use RFID technology to manage your supply chain, talk to us. We can help you build a solution that leverages the advantages of RFID technology.
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