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Traveling the path to RFID

Dec. 3, 2007
RFID—Radio Frequency Identification—is becoming part of trucking’s vocabulary. However, many in the industry don’t realize that there are actually two predominant standards for RFID

RFID—Radio Frequency Identification—is becoming part of trucking’s vocabulary. However, many in the industry don’t realize that there are actually two predominant standards for RFID—Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and High Frequency (HF). What’s more, there are issues revolving around which one to use and whether to migrate from one to the other.

Tagsys has announced its “Path to V2” program, which it said combines partnerships, programs and products to provide customers a pain-free upgrade from HF RFID to HF Version 2 (V2). According to Tagsys, V2 is a new standard it expects to be approved early in the new year and commercially available by the summer of 2008.

The company’s support of V2 indicates the company does not believe that the newer UHF technology has surpassed the older HF in efficiency. “HF is still the preferred technology to use at this time, because UHF is still in the beginning stages of development,” Maria Kaganov, product marketing manager for Tagsys, told Fleet Owner.

While HF has been around for several decades, UHF is still relatively new, although it has become more prevalent, buoyed by Walmart’s endorsement and subsequent adaptation of the technology in 2003.

It has become a matter of personal preference as to which standard is adopted. “It’s a very large market, and some companies have taken the position that UHF is the right solution and some say HF is,” Kaganov said.

In a partnership with IBM and NXP, Tagsys will attempt to make migrating to HF V2 simpler and easier. The technology will be introduced in pharmaceutical applications to start, but should quickly branch out to other applications, the company said.

Tagsys’s Path to V2 includes the Medio L400, the first self-diagnostic and self-correcting long-range HF reader, according to the company. The L400 is HF V2-compatible with a free firmware upgrade, while still supporting additional protocols including ICODE 1, ISO 15693 and UID-OTP. Tagsys also said that administrators can manage and modify 50 separate functions remotely in the Medio L400 in real-time.

RFID technology has become more and more ingrained in travel, utilized in toll systems such as EZ Pass for several years. Recently, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach decided all commercial truckers needed to equip their rigs with RFID tags from PierPass to access the ports’ marine container terminals, and Savi Technology deployed RFID readers and signposts to a Kuwait supply facility for the U.S. Army, updating the assets latest location.

However, although most fleets use GPS—which does not utilize RFID technology—more and more large companies are looking at using RFID, Kaganov said, because it is becoming more standardized and stable. The tracking capabilities of using RFID can make it easier for assets to be located should problems arise, and as the technology becomes more advanced, the trucking industry may look to it to monitor daily business operations more efficiently.

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