RFID: Anti-theft vs asset management

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The use of RFID technology is that it's a security or "anti-theft" technology. Although it's a great contributor to enabling a complete security solution with the integration of access control, CCTV and biometrics, it however is not efficient as a standalone security solution but rather an advanced asset management solution.

Because RFID uses radio frequency to send out a signal to excite the tag, simply blocking the signal by covering the tag with tin foil or even closing your hand over it will have a huge effect on the efficiency of the tag (no faraday cage needed). There are ways of increasing the effectiveness of the tags by positioning the tag in the most optimal read area and controlling the flow and speed that an article moves through the read area. This can be done with the use of portals (See Synertech SmartPortal and SmartAccess image' below) or strategically placed readers. This of course increases the investment in the technology so a valid ROI needs to be determined.

The setup and planning for an RFID initiative is of utmost importance. Understanding the process, identifying the gaps and doing some research and testing for tag selection is an important factor as read ranges vary from tag to tag and item to item. Serious considerations need to be made on the backend software as this drives the management and usability of the solution.

My advice to clients looking at RFID as a security solution is simply, don't. Start off with evaluating existing processes and enforce discipline where you can. If you however want to enhance your existing security investment with RFID to enable benefits like track and trace, accountability and a means to create an audit trail with useful dashboards and reporting, then there is a great business case and motivator for embarking on an RFID initiative.

Business benefits realised:

Improved object tracking - Pinpoint accuracy related to the ability to trace, track and monitor the movement and control of valuable assets and high-risk inventory.

Increased security - The system can be configured to provide alerts and alarms as well as other security features that link into other options such as Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) and biometric access.

Enhanced compliance and risk management - A system that can be configured to conform to, and therefore, automate the management of complex compliance requirements such as chain of custody, authorised access, date and time-sensitive stock controls etc.

Unrestricted access to data - The ability to provide completely objective and consistently reliable data that can be accessed by authorised users via the Web from anywhere in the world on virtually any digital device on a 24x7 basis.

As the pre-eminent supplier for RFID-based business systems and management applications in South Africa, Synertech is strongly positioned to offer a wide range of professional and highly specialised technical and support services that help to guarantee that RFID solutions deliver the business and operational benefits that they are designed to deliver. These services include pre-purchase professional consultancy, solution design, development and installation as well as post-sales technical support and training.

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Editorial contacts
Synertech Patrick Bauer (+27) 010 350 5200
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