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What kind of system is “RFID”? Introducing in detail from merits to introduction method


RFID is a system that reads information and rewrites information by communicating electromagnetic waves between a “tag (IC tag)” and a “reading device”.
On EC sites where various log data are quantified, it is possible to analyze sales of popular products, but when it comes to physical stores, it can be difficult to collect data.
RFID plays an active role in such situations. It will be possible to perform analysis and sales promotion similar to the Web at actual stores.
This time, we will explain in detail the basic information of RFID and the merits of introducing it. If you are considering the introduction of RFID for corporate warehouse management or physical store operation, please refer to this content.


table of contents

  • 1. What is “RFID”?
  • 2. RFID types are roughly divided into two types
  • 3. What are the benefits of introducing RFID?
  • 4. Are there any disadvantages to RFID?
  • 5. Trends and use cases in RFID
  • 6. How much is the RFID price?
  • 7. How to introduce RFID into business?
  • 8. About future RFID

What is “RFID”?

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is to attach an “RF tag” that inputs electronic information (name, price, date of manufacture, etc.) to a product, etc., and use the “reader/writer” of the reading device to read the electronic information. It is a system to read. Since it uses wireless radio waves, it can be read without contact. Furthermore, Radio Frequency Identification can perform “input”, “erase”, and “rewrite” of information.

To put it more simply, it may be recognized as “a system that can read and write information from a remote location.”

Familiar items that have introduced Radio Frequency Identification include transportation IC cards, ETC cards used on highways. Recently, even at major conveyor belt sushi chain stores, Radio Frequency Identification tags are attached to the back of plates to manage freshness. It is a system that is expected to develop and spread in the future because it can be used for various purposes depending on the device.


There are two main types of RFID.

RFID mechanism (communication method)
Communication method Communication means Major features
Electromagnetic induction magnetic field ・ Communication distance is about 1 meter
・ Various shapes such as coin type, card type, and cylindrical type
Radio waves Electromagnetic waves and
・ Communication distance is several meters or more
・ Sensitive to water and metal

To explain the mechanism of RFID (communication method) in a little more detail, Radio Frequency Identification can be broadly divided into two types of communication: “electromagnetic induction” and “radio waves.”


● Electromagnetic induction

Electromagnetic induction is a communication method that uses the “magnetic field” generated in the frequency band of the short wave band (HF band). The communication distance is about 1 meter, and it is not affected much by water, non-conductors such as wood, concrete, glass, and paper, as well as the human body. It features various shapes such as label type, coin type, card type, and cylindrical type.


● Radio waves

As the name implies, the radio wave method uses electromagnetic waves and microwaves to exchange data. Because electromagnetic waves have strong directivity and straightness. It has the feature of being able to communicate for several meters. In the case of microwaves, it is easy to be affected by absorption by water and reflection by metal. The communication method is different, but all of them are still systems that read and write information from remote locations.


What are the benefits of introducing RFID?

Advantages and disadvantages of introducing RFID
merit Easy to reduce work time
Can be read regardless of position or distance
The tag inside the box can also be read
Demerit Installation costs are likely to occur
Communication errors may occur

Below, let’s introduce the advantages and disadvantages of introducing RFID, using warehouse management and product sales as examples.


● Easy to reduce work time

In the past, it was necessary to “scan one by one” when scanning baggage tags and product barcodes. However, this work takes time to read one by one, and there are many cases where “reading omissions” occur. It’s more efficient than visual control but less speedy and reliable. However, since Radio Frequency Identification uses radio waves, it is possible to scan product tags all at once. Both warehouse management and product sales can save you a lot of time.


● Can be read regardless of position or distance

Another big point is that the tag can be read regardless of the position or distance. For example, if you are using barcodes on your warehouse luggage, it can be difficult to read your luggage in distant or high places. However, Radio Frequency Identification can read distant tags, so you don’t have to move near your luggage or use a stepladder.


● The tag inside the box can also be read

In addition, RFID can read the tags inside the box. You will be able to work smoothly because you will not have to open the box when reading the tag. In addition, the information can be read even if the tag is dirty or the tape is stuck. Another major advantage of Radio Frequency Identification is that it does not depend on the tag storage environment or usage environment.

Less management will help reduce labor costs and human error. If you are a business person who wants to save management costs when managing warehouses and selling products, it is a good idea to consider introducing Radio Frequency Identification.


Are there any disadvantages to RFID?

● Introduction costs are likely to occur

To use RFID, “tags (IC tags)” must be affixed to luggage and products. Depending on the company, the cost of building the integrated circuits required for a tag is high. If you tag a lot of luggage and products, the introduction cost will inevitably increase. With technological innovation, inexpensive tags may become widespread in the future, but Radio Frequency Identification has the disadvantage of high installation cost compared to simple barcodes that have a mechanism.


● Communication errors may occur

Even if the Radio Frequency Identification is not affected by the shield, the information cannot be read properly if the radio wave does not reach or the tag itself is out of order. Keep in mind that while it is faster and more reliable than barcodes, it does not guarantee 100% accuracy.


Trends and use cases in RFID

Initially, RFID was said to be difficult to attach to each low-priced product. This is because there were reasons such as “one tag is expensive at 1,000 yen or more” and “the wireless tag is large”. However, in the early 2000s, a major US supermarket chain announced that it would attach IC tags to each product and manage them. Along with the announcement, Radio Frequency Identification introduction experiments were conducted one after another. Since the unit price of IC tags has also dropped, it is now being introduced at retail stores in Japan.


● Case of a major apparel chain

There are many cases where Radio Frequency Identification tags are introduced and operated in the apparel chains that are being developed in Japan and overseas. The initial investment is said to be tens of billions of yen, but it seems that the introduction has shortened the inventory management time. Previously, people at warehouses, production factories, stores, etc. to grasp the number of inventories, such as “how much each product has been made” and “how many products will be delivered when”. Was confirming. Therefore, not only did it take time to check, but it also caused an error. However, by attaching Radio Frequency Identification from the production stage, it is now possible to check the quantity and inventory location of products immediately. At the same time as checking the number of stocks, inventory information can be shared in each area, and errors have been greatly reduced. In addition, the merit of reducing the number of shortages was also obtained.


● Convenience store chain case

Even domestic convenience stores are focusing on the introduction and operation of Radio Frequency Identification. At a major convenience store chain, a demonstration experiment using Radio Frequency Identification led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry was conducted when introducing Radio Frequency Identification. We have introduced a system that can attach Radio Frequency Identification to some products and acquire information on product inventory and expiration dates in real-time. Not only will you receive LINE messages about product information that is about to expire, but you will also receive LINE points. Also, if you place the product in the Radio Frequency Identification reader-equipped cash register, the price will be automatically settled. When this system is put into practical use, not only will the cashier’s work on the clerk side be significantly shortened, but the customer will have less time to wait for the cashier, so shopping will be stress-free.


● Case of clothing store

RFID tags are also introduced in physical stores that sell clothing. Before the introduction of RFID, it was said that 10 people took 20 hours to take inventory of products. However, after the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification, three people could complete it within two hours. By reducing the cost of inventory to less than one-thirtieth, not only has the labor cost of the store been reduced but the cost has also been reduced.


How much does RFID cost?

Since the patent for the IC chip has been obtained by the US military, it is stipulated that 1.5 yen will be paid to the US for Radio Frequency Identification-related patents. Therefore, there are opinions that it will be difficult for the unit price to remain below 1 yen in Japan. As of 2018, the lowest price of IC chips in Japan is about 2 to 3 yen. It is said that about 800 billion yen will be required for the initial capital investment for the full-scale domestic introduction.

It is predicted that the price of IC chips will decline with future technological innovation and widespread use, but it is good for corporate personnel to know the specific price quotes. When considering the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification in the future, it will be easier to understand “where and how much it will cost”.


How to introduce RFID into business?

  • Understand the mechanism and features of RFID
  • Consider which business requires RFID
  • Select the reader/writer and tag to be installed
  • Trial (demonstration experiment)
  • Start of operation

Now, how can we introduce RFID into warehouse management and product sales? The general procedure is as described above, but for manufacturers that handle reader/writers and IC tags, RFID introduction guides are posted. In addition, since you can understand the functions of reader/writers and IC tags through catalogs and pamphlets, it is also a good idea to use when considering the equipment to be introduced.

You may select the reader/writer or IC tag first, but let’s compare the cost before the introduction of RFID with the cost after the introduction of RFID in advance. When introducing a new system, not limited to RFID, it will be easier to understand “how much cost can be saved” by comparing costs.


About future RFID

Finally, let’s talk about the future of RFID. An RFID tag demonstration experiment was conducted at “Lawson Marunouchi Park Building Store”, “FamilyMart Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry Store”, and “Ministop Kanda Nishikicho 3-Chome Store” on the 1st basement floor of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

The experiment period is about 2 weeks from February 14th to 23rd, 2018. We are conducting inspections and inventory using handy that can read RFID, and demonstrations of electronic tags and cashless payments at unmanned cash registers. Not only Lawson, FamilyMart, and Ministop convenience stores, but also Ezaki Glico, Calbee, UCC Ueshima Coffee, Toyo Suisan, and Yamazaki Bread cooperated in this experiment. In addition, Dai Nippon Printing, logistics, and wholesalers were involved.

The advantage of conducting a demonstration experiment is that inventory, shipping, and sales information can be shared by multiple companies. Not only can you try to build a system for efficiency, but you can also expect to strengthen cooperation, so you can make use of it in the manufacturer’s production plan. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry are working to enable the introduction of RFID in convenience stores and drug chains by 2025. It is also a good idea to promote the introduction of RFID from now on in anticipation of its widespread use in the future.

This time, we introduced in detail the basic information of RFID and the merits of introducing it.

If the price of IC tags goes down, it will be easier for companies to introduce RFID, and it is expected that RFID will become widespread regardless of the industry. By developing an application that controls RFID, it is possible to introduce an RFID system according to the business content. On the other hand, RFID uses advanced technologies such as non-contact ICs and radio wave communication, so it is difficult to develop an application that controls RFID unless you have a lot of engineers.

Therefore, if you are developing an RFID control system, it is recommended that you outsource the development. Since the system companies that are in charge of outsourcing list the projects that they are good at and the programming languages ​​that they can handle, you can select the system company after examining the comparison.

If you ever want to know about similar things, check out the Facebook page Maga Techs



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