RFID as the Logistics Kingdom for Georgia?
01 November, 2012
RFID as the Logistics Kingdom for Georgia?

The logistics all Georgia hub could benefit from geographical position of Georgia as historically the country was located on the so-called “Silk Road” along with a new technology (Radio Frequency Identification technology -RFID). A data collection technology that uses electronic tags for storing data. The tag, also known as an “electronic label,” “transponder” or “code plate,” is made up of an RFID chip attached to an antenna.

Transmitting in the kilohertz, megahertz and gigahertz ranges, tags may be battery-powered or derive

their power from the RF waves coming from the reader. This drastically improves Customs clearance and the speed of logistics countrywide. Georgia, which has strategic location between the Black and Caspian seas, leads the region as a place to do business and has ambitions to become a regional service hub. Georgia’s nascent logistics and transportation sector has been developing despite the economic downturn and war in 2008, growing six-fold since 2000. Improvements in the competitiveness of various agriculture and non-agricultural sectors initially targeted (e.g. tourism, agriculture products for export) will require further growth and sophistication in transportation and logistics which are catalytic enablers to the national cargo transportation.

Like bar codes, RFID tags identify items. However, unlike bar codes, which must be in close proximity and line of sight to the scanner for reading, RFID tags do not require line of sight and can be embedded within packages. Depending on the type of tag and application, they can be read at a varying range of distances. In addition, RFID-tagged cartons rolling on a conveyer belt can be read many times faster than bar-coded boxes.

“Passive” tags have no power source but use the electromagnetic waves from the reader to energize the chip and transmit back (backscatter) their data. Passive tags can cost less than a quarter and be read up to approximately 10 meters from the reader’s antenna. “Active” tags have a battery that can transmit up to 300 feet indoors and more than a thousand feet outdoors. Used for tracking trailers in yards and containers on the loading dock, active tags cost several dollars and may periodically transmit a signal for readers to pick up or may lie dormant until they sense the reader’s signal.

All nations worldwide face a daunting task in maintaining airports, seaports, highways and railroads that can handle commerce and passenger traffic efficiently. The RFID technology and GPS cargo tracking available for logistics development is enough to keep up with long-term Georgia country needs.

Alien Technology was one of the first companies to make RFID tags, and its various Squiggle designs became widely used (see RFID tags). (Image courtesy of Printronix, Inc., www.printronix.com) Reusable Vs. One-Time

RFID tags for applications such as highway toll collection and container tracking are in continuous use for several years. Like regular electronic components, the tags are adhered to rigid substrates and packaged in plastic enclosures. In contrast, tags on shipping cartons are used for a much shorter time and are then destroyed. Disposable tags are adhered to printed, flexible labels pasted onto the carton, and these “smart labels” contain an RFID chip and antenna on the back. A thermal printer/encoder prints alphanumeric and bar code data on the labels while encoding the chip at the same time. See RFID tag.

Although first used in World War II to identify friendly aircraft, RFID technology really materialized in the 1980s and began to reach the masses in the 1990s. In 1993, the E-ZPass highway toll system was launched in the Northeast. In 1996, General Motors introduced OnStar, which is satellite-based RFID. A year later, Mobil’s Speedpass let people wave a keychain tag at the gas pump to pay by credit card. After the turn of the century, RFID began to proliferate.

When the price of tags becomes economical enough, it is expected that RFID will take off in a myriad of areas. Pundits have suggested applications such as reading a full supermarket cart as it passes by the reader, a washer/dryer that determines its settings from clothing tags and a refrigerator that automatically creates a shopping list. See RFID tag, RFID reader, RFID printer, EPC, Gen 2 and tag singulation.

The unique serial number in the electronic product code (EPC) lets RFID readers scan all the cases in a pallet without having to break it down. This provides a huge cost savings in warehouse management and is the reason why Wal-Mart required its suppliers to begin using RFID in 2005.

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