Will RFID Products Work For Me...It Depends

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After having a couple of months off from conferences and trade shows, we had a double dose of them in August and one in October. One of the conferences we attended was the NPMA (National Property Management Association) NES (National Educational Seminar) and in addition to having a booth at the trade show we did a presentation on Specialty RFID Tagging. The presentation was very well attended and I thought the questions that were asked were probably the best ones I have witnessed while presenting; however, I noticed a common theme on how I started answering the majority (if not all) the questions that were asked. I started my answers with the phrase “that depends.”

To some people answering questions with “that depends” may sound like the person answering the question doesn’t know the answer, but in actuality what we are saying is that it depends on how you as the user answer the following questions.

How much do the RFID tags cost?

This is a question that is not just exclusive to our RFID tags; prospective customers ask this question about bar code tags or any of our products. Everyone wants an idea of cost, but we want to get them interested in the best product for their application regardless of cost so it can be a tricky situation. Nevertheless it depends on a number of factors like quantity, size, number of colors, etc. Whenever I have someone come into the booth one of the samples they always like to point out is the Coca-Cola “AUTOGRAPHS” sample because it is so recognizable (which is why we include it). When they ask me how much something like that costs I just try to get them to talk about their application more because more often than not that particular product is not the right one for their application; it’s just a good conversation starter.

What read range will RFID tags get?

This is primarily an RFID question, and the fact is, that it does depend. It depends on what the tag is going on, what reader is being used, what inlay is being used if they are just pointing to a specific construction, i.e. our smaller hang tag that can use a number of different inlays and more. Again, I use this question as an opening to get them talking about their application and what it is that they are actually trying to accomplish. What they think they want/need may not be it at all. It all depends.

Will the RFID tags survive (whatever application conditions apply)?

This question is great because the customer appears to understand that not all labels are created equal and if they understand that they may be more likely to place additional value on a label that will survive a particularly demanding application. However, even knowing what kind of conditions in general the tag will be exposed to still deserves the answer “that depends.” Additional questions must be asked. For example, how long will the tag be exposed to these conditions? How long does the tag need to last? Is the tag directly exposed (i.e. sunlight)?

How long will the RFID labels last?

This question is directly related to the preceding one. How long a label will last depends on the environmental conditions the tags will be exposed to. This question just begs for additional qualification. We get asked this question a lot – not just for RFID, but this was a specific question that was asked during my presentation and I’m afraid I didn’t handle it very well. Rather than qualifying my answer with “it depends” I gave her the information I knew about the anticipated lifetime of the chip. Obviously, it does depend on a number of factors including how often the tag is read. For example, a passive RFID tag that is read on a daily basis is not going to last as long as a tag that is read only once a year.

Is RFID right for me?

Answering this too quickly can have huge potential consequences for the customer. We actually have an entire presentation devoted to qualifying whether the customer is ready for RFID and it DEPENDS in a large part what their defined objective is – what do they hope to accomplish? After determining the objective it also DEPENDS on what kind of environment the tags are going to be exposed to and whether the application is something that is truly realistic.

The key to all of these questions (and more) is qualification and this definitely lends itself to our “How” statement which is “our mission is to understand customer ID applications even better than they do in order to provide a superior customer experience.” Our ability to accomplish this depends on how well we qualify the application – it’s as simple as that.  If you are wondering about your project needs, contact us to discuss a possible RFID solution

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