What is RFID


What is RFID ?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a generic term for technologies that use electromagnetic field or radio waves to automatically identify people and objects. Wireless communication takes place between a reader (sometimes interrogator) and a small transponder called tag.
RFID is a technology often seen as a descendant of the ubiquitous barcode, which has been used since the late 1960's as a printed means of identifying product categories. Unlike barcodes, no clear line of sight is required to obtain an accurate read. There are different versions of barcode technology (EAN, JAN) encompassing 8 to 14 digit systems and same coding schemes can be combined for RFID.

The basic RFID system comprises a tran­sponder, a reader and an antenna. Data is stored in a tag. Current tags, depending on applica­tion, can hold up to 64 kilobits of data. Tags can be read-only, one time programmable or read/write.

A radio frequency signal is transmitted from the reader to a transponder that passes within range of the reader's antenna. The signal triggers RF emissions from the tag. The transponder holds bits of data, which is either reflected or sent back to the reader, depending on whether the tag is passive or active. Transponder data includes information such as the transaction record type, the unique transponder ID number, the reader ID number, the transaction status code, and the error detection code. Customer data can be specified as well.

Source of tag power
Tags can be passive (powered by radio frequency field of the reader), semi-passive (powered by a small battery) or active and they comes in various forms including smart cards, encapsulated tags, labels, watches and even embedded in mobile phones. Active tags, which have a longer read range, have a trans­mitter to send back information, rather than reflecting the signal back to the reader. Used to power the transmissions in active tags, the battery adds significantly to the tag cost, and limits the tag life to the battery life. Semi-passive tags also use the battery to power the circuitry, but not the broadcast signal. Sensor functionalities can also be added to tags.
The communication frequencies used in RFID system depends on the application requirements. Range of frequencies starts from 125 kHz (LF) and normally end at 2.45 GHz. Regulations are imposed by most countries (grouped globally into 3 regions) to control emissions and prevent interference with other professional communication systems and Industrial, Scientific and Medical equipment (ISM).
Read range
The read range, or the physical area within which the reader can recognize the tag, is dependent on several factors including the tag-reader frequency, antenna design for both tag and reader, tag energy efficiency and amount of illumination field strength (transmitter power) generated by the reader. Antenna-to-tag orientation issues are impacted by the antenna polarization method used (circular vs. linear). Antenna sizes are mostly a function of the operating frequency used.
Middleware is the software interface between the reader hardware and the existing company databases and information management software. It implements the different reader interfaces and protocols and manages the data flow to the application software. The middleware has to take into account the distributed nature of RFID applications. The distributed architecture of typical RFID applications demands on the other hand networking capabilities on the reader side. Thus the middleware functions are implemented more and more inside the reader.
Data stored in RFID tags depends on the application and existing standards. For example, the design of EPCglobal-supported code is divided into four sections (header, manager number, object class and serial number). Although many current RFID applications are based on proprietary systems, industries support­ing open RFID systems with open standards may soon proliferate.
Electronic Product Code is a standard code for RFID tags administered by EPCglobal Inc. The EPC number, which can be from 64 to 256 bits, contains at least the following fields:
  • EPC version
  • Company identification number assigned by EPCglobal
  • Product number (object class)
  • Unique serial number. A 96-bit EPC is capable of differentiating 68 billion items for each of 16 million products within each of 268 million companies.
  • Unlike UPC bar codes, which do not have serial numbers, the EPC enables tracking of individual items because every item can be uniquely identified
Benefits from RFID

Some of the main benefits that RFID can provide are:

  • The solution does not require a line of sight access to be able to read tags.
  • The tag can trigger security alarm systems if removed from its correct location.
  • Reader and tag communication are not orientation sensitive.
  • Automatic scanning and data logging is possible without human intervention
  • Each tag can have a unique product code like standardised Electronic Product Code (EPC-code) and still hold more information in an internal memory bank.
  • Each item can individually be labelled.
  • Tag internal data can be comprehensive, unique in parts/common in parts, and is compatible with data processing in ERP system.
  • System provides a high degree of security and product authentication - a tag is more difficult to counterfeit than a simple barcode.
  • The supporting data infrastructure can allow data retrieval and product tracking anywhere provided the reader is close enough to the tag.

Business benefits

The technical benefits of RFID create the basis for real business benefits. When there’s less risk of errors and when there’s real-time information about how the asset is being used and where it’s located, RFID can increase the efficiency of processes and save money. The return on investment is the key issue when reviewing the general benefits of the system. For example the encapsulated re-usable tag’s cost is typically justified when calculating the eventual cost per use of an asset and when comparing it to the losses. The cost savings of an RFID system are often based on the following facts:

  • An RFID system can increase productivity – as less monitoring is needed and both goods and information are handled more efficiently
  • An RFID system makes it easier to respond to new circumstances as a result of information gained from the supply networks
  • Less errors, higher reliability – no human intervention needed for reading the data
  • Improved visibility and traceability – process monitoring, tracking of shipments and assets.


How to select the right tag ?

 Arti Grafiche Julia’s product portfolio is composed of passive RFID tags, which operate at UHF frequency band. Tags are compliant with ISO18000-6C standard, which is the equivalent to EPCglobal Class 1 Generation 2 –standard (C1G2). This standard is widely adopted across the industry and there are multiple IC, reader, antenna, software and system providers in the market, which have a high level of interoperability along the standard. Thus AGJ tags are compatible with most UHF RFID hardware.
Tag selection is easy up to this point. Gen2 is the right choice. Then it becomes more complicated. There is a huge variety of different kind of tags available with different properties. And remember, they all are compatible with any Gen2 reader. Reader devices and tags can be selected totally independently based on other requirements in your application.
Electrical viewpoint

Typically, the most important electrical parameter is the tag sensitivity, which defines the maximum operating distance. It is notable that stated reading distance is theoretical, open space reading distance and may be shorter due to the improper use of the tag or reader. On the other hand, it may be even longer due to multipath propagation. UHF (Ultra high Frequency) tags work in far field region. This is significantly different from older LF and HF RFID technologies. All physical laws related to radio transmission apply and must be considered in system design and tag selection. Tag includes an antenna with a certain gain and radiation pattern. In order to achieve maximum performance, on-metal tags in particular need careful installation.
Local radio transmission regulations define the frequencies for RFID. Some tags (especially on-metal tags) are optimized to a certain frequency band. In closed loop applications, global functionality is not necessarily needed, but if the tagged item is shipped from one continent to another, a wideband tag design is needed. AGJ offers tags for all UHF frequency bands used for RFID globally. The most up to date list of frequencies used in different countries can be found from EPCglobal website.
The next thing to consider is the amount of memory and type required. Some tags have the 96-bit EPC identification number while others also have user memory up to 512-bit, which can be used freely. Depending on the IC type, IC can also have a tag identifier (TID),which is non-alterable unique identification number for each and every piece of IC. It’s worth keep in mind that EPC identification number is alterable if not explicitly locked. AGJ can lock the tags if needed (see more from: personalization services)
The material of tagged object is also relevant. Although RFID can be used without line of sight, the RF waves will reflect from metal. Other materials also have an effect on tags and on RF propagation. A specially designed tag, which we call a hard tag, is needed when the tag is placed directly on metal. They often consist of plastic structure where the special antenna design is embedded. AGJ has developed the first ever on-metal label type tag, which utilizes the metal background to enhance performance. This differs from traditional UHF labels, which should be placed as far away from the metal as possible.
The effect of material should also be considered with traditional label type RFID tags. For example, some plastics have notable detuning effect on tag antenna although plastics are reasonably transparent to RF in general. Also liquids are challenging as they absorb the RF waves and thus prevent the propagation.

Physical viewpoint
Tag size is obviously one parameter, which affects to tag selection. The tagged object itself or space reserved for the tag might constrain the physical size of a tag. In general, decreasing the tag size will decrease the performance. AGJ has developed a novel way of using special 3D-structures within antenna design. This concept is used in several products, which keeps them relatively small yet still maintains performance.
Depending on the application, there can be several environmental conditions, which the tag is exposed to. If the tag needs to be outdoors or survive cleaning processes, an encapsulated tag or a special label with correct materials should be selected. The encapsulated tag is also the right choice if the tags needs to survive mechanical impacts. In industrial applications, tags may need to survive special processes that include the use of high temperatures or chemicals. AGJ has designed a wide selection of both hard encapsulated tags and special labels for surviving the wide variety of challenges common in many different industries. These products can be viewed here.
Another feature to take into account is how the tag can be fixed. With hard tags, AGJ recommends that you always use, when possible, a mechanical attachment with screws, pop rivets or welding. If it’s not possible to attach the tag mechanically, adhesives are another option. User should take into account that selecting adhesives can be a long process. There’s no adhesive on the market that can be used for fast tag fixing and is suitable for every surface materials and all weather conditions. Therefore, it’s recommended that you review different industrial adhesives and test them, prior to use, to see how appropriate they are for your specific application.


The laser engraving is an extremely flexible permanent marking system. It replaces more and more the other less efficient and more expensive marking systems like the pad, the hot stamping and the serigraphy.

more information ...




The basic components of an RFID system are the transponder  (also called “tag”) which is made by a tiny memory chip combined to a mini inlay and to read/write devices with their antennas.

The system can manage and verify la validity of the ticket and the identification data.

more information ...




Our offices are open
from Monday to Friday 
Postal address: Via Travnik , 7
San Dorligo della Valle (TS) Italy
Phone +39 040 3897411
Fax +39 040 381260
E-mail: agjulia@agjulia.it