The Importance of Automatic Identification and Data Capture in the World of Logistics

Asset Tracking

Automatic Identification and Data Capture in the World of Logistics

Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) is one of the most important technological advancements that manufacturers, warehouses, and distribution centers have benefited from in recent years.  When implemented strategically, AIDC solves an array of problems, from trace and trace to identity verification and beyond.

What is Automatic Identification and Data Capture?

AIDC or AutoID is an automated process used in the identification and collection of data for storage, classification, and analysis.  The AIDC process is typically done without human involvement and is generally integrated for the purpose of systematically identifying and tracking a multitude of items, inventory, tools, assets, and even workers.

AIDC is employed in a relatively broad spectrum of specific technologies including but not limited to:

  • Barcodes
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • Biometrics including iris and facial recognition systems
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Magnetic strips
  • Smartcards
  • Speech recognition

All of these technologies use AIDC in unique ways depending on the ins and outs of their processes.  Although AIDC serves a wide scope of applications, the technology is primarily used for: 1) identification and validation, 2) asset tracking, and 3) interfacing with other data systems.

The Benefits of Using Automatic Identification and Data Capture?

  • Reduces the cost of data entry
  • Prevents errors related to identification and/or data collection
  • Speeds up the process of data collection
  • Facilitates tracking and determining an item’s exact location

When considering the benefits of using AIDC, one must first take a closer look at the existing technology solutions that are enhanced by it:

  • Barcode Readers: AIDC has been around for years in the form of barcode labels and barcode reader technologies. Barcodes can be used for tracking, identification, and counting across various industries, including retail, healthcare, education, warehousing, manufacturing, entertainment, and more.
  • RFID: Radio Frequency Identification is a technology whereby digital data encoded in RFID tags or transponders are captured by a reader via radio waves. RFID is similar to barcoding in that data from a tag or label are captured by a device that stores the data in a database. RFID, however, has several advantages over systems that use barcode asset tracking software. The most notable is that RFID tag data can be read outside the line-of-sight, whereas barcodes must be aligned with an optical scanner.
  • Biometrics: Biometry identifies people by using a specialized scanning process that compares biological characteristics, such as their iris or fingerprint. It is used in access control and even on personal mobile devices.
  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition): OCR captures scanned and/or written text. This technology is used in the digitization processes of data for items like written prescriptions received by a pharmacy.
  • Magnetic strips: Magnetic strips can be swiped for immediate verification and are extremely common.  Most people use this technology in their day to day lives in the form of credit and debit cards.
  • Smart Cards: Smart cards are, in essence, a more secure form of RFID. They are generally used similarly and are found on credit cards and passports.
  • Speech recognition: Similar to biometrics, voice recognition uses a device to capture data that is then automatically translated to typed data.

AIDC is frequently used in scenarios involving logistics and warehouse inventory, where the processing of many items requires fast-tracking beyond human capability and capacity.  RFID technology is commonly used because of its flexibility and affordability – ideal for logistics, such as tracking large quantities of objects.  Plus, the ability to track the exact location of an object in a large warehouse via reader proximity detection.   

A typical RFID Auto-ID or AIDC system consists of:

An identification tag attached to a product in the form of a label or embedded into a product that includes a unique identification number and may contain additional programmed data.

An RFID Reader or scanner networked to a data processing system capable of reading or writing information in the tags that pass in front of them.

Software systems with interconnected databases that store the captured information, including details of its history and instructions for processing through to its current location.

RFID AIDC Spectrum

RFID identification systems work across a very wide range of the radio spectrum, varying by the radio frequency bands they use, their communication protocols, how they receive energy, and how they store information. 

Low Frequency (LF) RFID technology operates on signals between 125 and 134 kHz and is used primarily for access control and short range applications with potential for   interference issues. High-Frequency (HF) RFID technology operates in the 13.56 MHz band and is used in applications where both the operating speed and maximum reading distances are in a medium range and balances out some interference issues. The Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) RFID technology operates between 850 and 950 MHz, allowing the highest processing speeds and the longest coverage distances.

The challenges in the field of AIDC remain more relevant than ever, particularly in times of uncertain economic forecasts when time-optimized, low human contact, and cost-efficient processes are an essential factor for every company.

For more than 50 years, FEIG ELECTRONICS has brought the progress of AIDC technologies and modern logistics closer to its objective of maximizing its high level, real-time control capacity down to the level of each individual and specific product.

FEIG offers a wide selection of AIDC products at multiple frequencies such as UHF, HF and LF readers and antennas; myAXXESS for vehicle and personnel access control;  the ECCO+ a mobile hybrid device combining barcode and RFID for logistics and the HyWEAR compact, a wearable hybrid that makes the manual material handling process more efficient by freeing both hands.

Demonstrations of these products and use cases can be found at:https://www.rfidreadernews.com/autoid-solutions-for-logistics-processes/

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