Last month, Alesha’s timecard was a mess. Yesterday, Nick asked if he could leave early but forgot to log out. Maya worked overtime, but your current system wouldn’t let her log in, so you have to do it manually (again).
Managing your company’s old-school employee login system can be a full-time job. Plus, you can never quite keep track of when people are coming and going, which raises some serious security concerns.
What’s an overworked manager to do?
Upgrading to RFID cards can help with organization, security, inventory tracking and more. This post will explore the benefits of using RFID technology for credentialing, improved security and streamlined tracking across industries.
What Is an RFID Card?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. RFID technology uses radio frequencies to communicate between an RFID card and its designated reader. An RFID card is an employee identification badge with an RFID card inside.
An RFID card is programmed with one or more specific codes. A corresponding reader is programmed to recognize these codes. Users can hold the RFID card up to the reader or walk nearby, and the reader will recognize that specific code and perform a predetermined action, like unlocking a door or logging someone in for their shift.
RFID cards also can connect to wifi, work with software to collect and organize data and sometimes track RFID cards or tags in real time.
RFID Use Cases
RFID technology is used in various industries and applications, from retail and health care to transportation and logistics. Some common use cases include:
Picture a large healthcare facility. Employees are coming and going at all hours of the day and night. How can the facility stay secure while allowing employee access at irregular times? Employees with an RFID card can access secured entrances, controlled medication rooms or maintenance areas without the risk of leaving a door unlocked. There are other benefits for health care organizations as well:
- Convenience. If a hospital administrator only has one badge to remember, she won’t have to stress about forgetting the keys to her office each morning. Some healthcare facilities require employees to wear ID badges at all times, so equipping them with RFID technology gives one less key or fob to carry, forget or lose.
- Health. RFID readers on sanitizing stations can provide employee hand washing/sanitizing data. For example, when an employee scrubs up, their RFID card registers with a reader in the soap/sanitizing dispenser — data that can be helpful to prove compliance.
- Security. RFID-connected software can collect and categorize movement around your facility. The data can help you pinpoint how many people accessed a certain area and when.
- Patient Safety. RFID-enabled patient bracelets decrease the risk of mistaken identity. This helps make sure the right treatments are getting to the right patients.
If you’re running retail, you know the importance of keeping up your online presence. Online orders and brick-and-mortar sales can make current inventory challenging. Using barcodes is time-consuming. Here’s how RFID tags can help retailers and their customers:
- Organization. Swapping barcodes out for RFID tags can help streamline your inventory process. RFID tags can be tracked in real-time to reflect better what’s on site.
- Staying Relevant. Since RFID tags are connected to software, they can be updated. Barcodes, on the other hand, can’t be changed once they’re created.
- Anti-theft. Merchandise equipped with RFID tags can be linked to readers stationed at store exits as an anti-theft measure.
- Employee Management. Managers of brick-and-mortar retail sites can easily track associates’ work hours with data collected from RFID card logins.
Whether you’re cranking out car parts or food products, manufacturing facilities need to be secure, safe and clean. Many facilities have routine inspections and reports as well. RFID cards can help streamline these processes.
- Convenience. Employees who use RFID card IDs can clock in and out by holding their cards up to readers instead of punching timecards or using login stations.
- Data Collection. RFID cards provide data on employee working hours to help employers track efficiency.
- Inventory Tracking and Evaluation. RFID tagging on items and machinery can provide data on how quickly products are moving through the facility.
At The Office
The increase in remote and hybrid work options probably means more coming-and-going than your office had pre-pandemic. RFID cards at the office allow for entrance control and track employee access to keep office spaces secure. Businesses can also track inventory using data collected from RFID tags on available items. Employers can RFID tag items to prevent office theft as well.
Types of RFID Cards
RFID cards come in several varieties. There are three primary types:
- Active RFID cards have a battery installed and continuously transmit radio waves.
- Passive RFID cards are activated by their readers when they’re within range and usually have a shorter read range than active RFID cards.
- Semi-passive (also called battery-assisted passive) RFID tags have a battery that powers the tag when it’s close to its reader and uses the energy from the reader to complete the transaction.
RFID cards also vary by frequency. Radiofrequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), which refers to the distance measured by a wave cycle before it repeats. Higher frequency usually means longer range, smaller size, faster processing and greater memory capacity. Each has its benefits.
- Band of 125 to 134 KHz (kilohertz)
- Read range of up to 10cm
- Less susceptible to weather and water damage
- Often used for tagging larger objects and animal tracking chips
- Most common US frequency
High frequency (HF):
- Band of 13.56 MHz
- Read range of up to 1 meter
- Can read multiple items at a time
- More memory/capacity than LF
- Popular for high volume long-range use such as RFID bracelets, manufacturing facilities
- Used in contactless smart cards like MIFARE DESFire
- Near-field communication (NFC) RFID have high memory capabilities and are commonly used for contactless phone payment systems and other smartphone apps.
- Band of 433 MHZ and 860 to 956 MHz
- Read range of 12 to 100 meters
- Less expensive than LF or HF RFID tags
- Often used for managing inventory and anti-theft/security measures
- Band of 2.45 to 5.8 GHz
- Passive read range of 4.5 meters
- Semi-passive/Active read range of 30/90 meters
- More expensive than UHF
- Not as widely used in the United States
Getting Started with RFID
While each type of RFID card carries different specs, any type can be programmed to meet specific needs. First, determine how you’ll use RFID cards in your workplace — for security, time clocking, product tracking, etc. Your RFID card provider can help you choose the right card type for your purposes, budget and environment.
Your RFID system will have a reader (or readers), RFID cards and corresponding software. You can also purchase RFID card accessories and printers if you’d like to print cards on-site.
Upgrading to RFID cards can simplify and streamline employee login systems and inventory tracking and enhance security measures across industries. By choosing the right RFID card type for your specific needs and budget, your workplace can benefit from the convenience and security that RFID technology offers.