How do RFID tags work

Business software

  • something about the technical basics of RFID;

  • what different techniques you can use;

  • that your IT department needs to rethink RFID;

  • that RFID is not just RFID.

Soreon Research GmbH has examined the topic of radio frequency identification (RFID) in two studies. The following text is taken from the chapter "Technology basics" of the Soreon study "Successful use of RFID in the automotive industry" by the author Steffen Binder from February 2005. We reproduce it in a shortened and slightly modified form.

technical basics

Basically, the RFID technology consists of a transponder and a reader. A transponder is a microchip with - depending on its property - up to 2 Mbit storage capacity and an antenna (or coil) that picks up the electromagnetic waves from a reader and forwards the data. Transponders (also called tags) pick up the frequencies of waves and then re-emit them with increased intensity. The word is made up of the English terms transmitter and responder.

The data stored on an RFID chip can be classified into four types: Production data contain information such as order information, consecutive product numbers and other identification data. Product data include information on the material and the batch numbers of all installed parts. The assembly information is important for future production steps. Finally, the measurement data provide information on test processes.

The speed at which the data can be read out depends directly on the amount of information stored on a transponder. Therefore, before the planned use of RFID, a company must always weigh up between fast reading processes on the one hand and the ability to capture a lot of data on the other. Transponders that are used in assembly, for example, usually only have to store data volumes of a few kilobytes.