How Long Do RFID Tags Last
The rapid development of technology over the century gave birth to wireless connections and touchless transactions. One of the creations containing these qualities is RFID tags. Before anything else, “What could be RFID tags?”
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags is a tracking system. They use radio frequency to communicate, track, and manage objects or individuals. In simple words, RFID tags are stickers that hold a lot of information, such as numbers and short descriptions.
RFID tags have two types. Depending on their type and purpose, their lifespan can change.
Does the durability of RFID tags peak your interest? If you want to learn more about the standard lifespan of RFID tags, read more!
Two Types of RFID Tags
There are two types of RFID tags, the Active and the Passive. In case you’re thinking about their difference, the answer lies in their power source and way of communication.
- Active RFID Tag
This type of tag has its power source. Most of the time, a battery powers it. Because of this, signals can be transmitted without the help of an external RFID reader.
Active tags are able to connect with RFID readers without waiting to be activated. This feature makes them more suitable for real-time tracking.
When compared to passive tags, they have a longer communication range. Thus, transmitting signals over several meters is possible. Active RFID tags are often used in vehicle tracking, and goods movement.
- Passive RFID Tag
The disadvantage of a passive RFID tag is the lack of power source. In order to operate, they usually rely on the energy coming from an RFID reader.
Usually, they can only be activated when an RFID reader is around. This process is done by using the radio waves they receive and converting it back as information.
As compare passive RFID tags to active tags, they usually have shorter communication range. Most of the time,they are only limited to a few meters. This feature allows them to be commonly used for access control systems and inventory management.
Standard Lifespan of RFID Tags
All things have a lifespan. They last for a certain duration before they degrade and deteriorate.
You can take, for example, your gadgets. After a few years of use, they slow down and later shut down until they become obsolete.
The same goes for RFID tags. Whether they are passive or active, their lifespan varies.
Let us first discuss the durability of an active RFID tag. This type of tag is responsible for making its signal. They have a short life because they actively rely on their own power source. Thus, they are required to be changed every 3-4 years.
A passive RFID tag, on the other hand, lasts longer. It is because it doesn’t have its own power source. This type of tag can last over 20 years and more if properly handled.
Factors Affecting RFID Tag Lifespan
Exposing your RFID tag to environmental conditions can lessen its durability. Extreme temperatures, humidity, dust, UV radiation, and chemicals degrade the components of an RFID tag. You can opt for specifically designed ones if you want to use your tag somewhere exposed to such conditions.
When choosing the perfect RFID tag, the material quality is often overlooked. We sometimes forget that the materials used to construct a tag are important. They comprise the casing and internal components, which affect durability. Always remember that high-quality materials can withstand wear and tear and other stressors.
Frequency of use
Take note that the frequency of use greatly impacts RFID tag longevity. RFID tags in dynamic environments such as supply chains and inventory systems experience more wear and tear than other industries.
RFID tags are prone to physical stress. It is evident when handled, transported, and attached to items. In order to prevent the tag from being affected, protect and reinforce them. By doing so, they can withstand physical impact and stay durable.
RFID tags can be read and written numerous times. This process can affect its lifespan. Frequent read/write cycles cause wear, especially for rewritable RFID tags.
Signs of RFID Tag Degradation
Reduced Read Range
Two major things impact the read range of an RFID tag.
The first one is the size of the antenna. The read range is affected by the energy it collects from a signal. It applies mainly to passive tags since they lack an internal power source.
Therefore, the bigger the antenna gets, the greater the power it gathers. It then allows the tag to send a stronger response.
The second factor is the kind of material it is mounted to. You must apply a well-designed tag type to a certain material- paper, metal, plastic, etc. By doing so, you ensure they are compatible with one another.
The two mentioned above may be the most common interferences on read range, but that is not all. Another factor that affects the read range could be RFID tag degradation.
If you still cannot fix your read range after troubleshooting, it could mean damage. For some reason, your RFID tag might be degrading.
Like the reduced reading range, the connection with the reader shows the condition of your tag. If the readings become inconsistent, the main problem behind it might be damage.
Physical damage is normal if you mount your RFID tag on fast-paced items. There might be bending, cutting, or cracking on your tag that you have yet to notice. It could be the leading reason why your tags’ performance faces issues.
Fading or Illegible Printing
The reason why your RFID tag isn’t working might be due to its printing. Unrecognizable printing, fade, or scratches can prevent the accuracy of reading. It often applies to printed information like serial numbers and barcodes.
Best Practices for RFID Maintenance
The same applies to large machines; RFID tags should have regular inspections. A regular visual checkup is a must. This process will allow you to know if there are any physical damages, signs of environmental stress, and wearing.
It also lets you verify if the tags are securely attached to the items. It answers the questions: “Is the RFID tag fastened well?” and “Is the adhesive still intact?”
Read Range Testing
As mentioned before, one of the symptoms shown by a deteriorating RFID tag is a reduced read range. Therefore, you should add a read range testing to your routine.
The test will ensure that the tags effectively communicate with the readers. At the day’s end, it will promptly help you identify and address issues related to reduced read ranges.
One of the things that shorten your RFID tag’s lifespan is environmental conditions. Environmental monitoring will ensure that temperature, humidity, and other factors are within range.
The aim is to ensure they are in a specified operating window for your tags. You can add covers to enhance the durability of your tag when exposed to harsh conditions.
The evolution of technology is something we cannot stop. In this modern world, RFID tags are the products of this modernization. They have endless possibilities and potential that connect industries.
As we focus deeper into RFID tags, it is clear that these smart labels are not one-size-fits-all. Their lifespan varies depending on their type which is mainly influenced by power source.
With our guide, we hope you gained knowledge about the durability and lifespan of RFID tags. As you navigate RFID technology, remember that the more you care for your tags, the longer they last.