Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the Internet of Things:

What are our Methods for establishing standards?

Standards are essentially derived from the projects we execute. During these projects, we select the most optimum solutions based on several factors such as business requirements, return on investment analysis, technology performance, resiliency in the environment the technologies will be operating within, integration requirements and impacts on enterprise systems and an analysis of latest industry initiatives.

What is our Process for Problem Solving with RFID?

As with any Six Sigma project, documented, measurable and quantifiable processes must exist and a problem to be solved must be well defined. A review of applicable RFID technologies and processes to address the problem should be examined in conjunction with reputable vendors to develop solutions to address the problem. During this stage, other additional attributes may be added to the original problem. During an analysis cycle, the project improvement should be quantified to determine the return on investment.

How Do Organizations Begin an RFID Project?

These steps usually involve clearly laying out the requirements, developing a return on investment model, assessing the impact on enterprise systems, selecting the right RFID technology, including the appropriate hardware and software for the project and development of an implementation plan.

What is our Process flow initiating an RFID project?

Step 1 is to establish the business requirements. Step 2 is to perform a return on investment analysis. Step 3 is to identify the technologies that will best support the business requirements. Step 4 is to determine the integration requirements. Step 5 is to establish how these new technologies will affect the business processes. Step 6 is to build a detailed project plan which will include a buy vs. build analysis.

What are the RFID Technology Considerations?

Some of the basic questions to consider are:

  • Read range – what is the maximum allowable distance between an RFID reader and a tag?
  • Location – What type of environment is being monitored?
    • Inside/Outside
    • Office/Hazardous
    • Real-Time Location/Detection through a portal
    • Personal inspection with a handheld

What are the differences between active and passive RFID?

As described in RFID: Active vs. Passive, active RFID tags require a power source to run the microchip’s circuitry and to broadcast a signal to a reader, whereas passive tags have no battery, drawing their power from the reader, which sends out electromagnetic waves that induce a current in the tag’s antenna and using that energy, they transmit their information back to the reader. Please refer to RFID: Active vs. Passive for more information.

How do I determine the right RFID/GPS for my application?

There a number of variables to consider when choosing the ‘right’ type of RFID/GPS. Different frequencies have different characteristic which make them suitable for penetrating different kinds of substances, such water for metal. The read range is also an important consideration and affects not only the frequency of the tag, but its size, how it is mounted, and whether it is active or passive. Furthermore, the type and value of the asset being tracked is important consideration as tags range from prices below $1 to several hundred dollars.

What is the process for determining the right hardened mobile device for RFID usage?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mobile device for RFID usage:

  • RFID technology, such as frequency range, active vs. passive, etc.
  • The applications to be used
  • Networking needs, such as Wi-Fi, Cell or Satellite
  • The screen size, keyboard and other connections
  • The environment in which the device will be used for HS&E concerns

Are There Engineering or HSE Constraints?

Care must be taken in the choice of RFID readers and tags. As some readers contain power sources, their use in explosive environments should be carefully considered. In addition, the RFID reader is a powered device and as should be verified it meets the requirements of the environment in which it is to be used. For example, several RFID readers are available to meet Class 1 Division II certification for operation in hazardous environment. The specific needs environment needs of your project need to be known before selection of readers and tags to insure the safest operating environment.

How Does IT Engage in the Project?

IT should be engaged in the project early on in the project. The purpose of engaging them early on is to gain their input on the impact on enterprise systems as well as to assess impacts on the company network, network management systems, help desk and other support areas within IT. They should also be involved in the selection of mobility software that runs on the mobility devices.

Are there IT Standards?

Contact your IT department to determine if they have RFID standards.

Do we need a Project Manager?

In all but the most trivial projects, a Project Manager is highly recommended. In general, there is not a single vendor providing all of the RFID needs for a project, such as tags, readers, handhelds and software. Coordination of multiple schedules from multiple vendors is the domain of Project Managers and they are encouraged for all projects.

What About 6 Sigma Considerations?

As with any Six Sigma project, documented, measurable and quantifiable processes must exist and a problem to be solved must be well defined. A review of applicable RFID technologies and processes to address the problem should be examined in conjunction with reputable vendors to develop solutions to address the problem. During this stage, other additional attributes may be added to the original problem. During an analysis cycle, the project improvement should be quantified to determine the return on investment.