Material Readiness™ FAQ

Basic RFID Questions

How does an RFID system work?

An RFID system consists of a tag, which is made up of a microchip with an antenna, and an interrogator or reader with an antenna. The reader sends out electromagnetic waves.

The tag antenna is tuned to receive these waves. A passive RFID tag draws power from a field created by the reader and uses it to power the microchip’s circuits. The chip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader, and the reader converts the new waves into digital data

Is RFID better than using barcodes?

RFID is not necessarily “better” than barcodes. The two are different technologies and have different applications, which sometimes overlap. The big difference between the two is barcodes are line-of-sight technology. That is, a scanner has to “see” the barcode to read it, which means people usually have to orient the barcode towards a scanner for it to be read. Radio frequency identification, by contrast, doesn’t require line of sight. RFID tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader.

Barcodes have other shortcomings as well. If a label is ripped, soiled or falls off, there is no way to scan the item. And standard barcodes identify only the manufacturer and product, not the unique item. The barcode on one milk carton is the same as every other, making it impossible to identify which one might pass its expiration date first.

Will RFID replace barcodes?

Probably not. Barcodes are inexpensive and effective for certain tasks. It is likely that RFID and barcodes will coexist for many years.

If RFID has been around so long, why aren't more companies using it?

Many companies have invested in RFID systems to get the advantages they offer. These investments are usually made in closed-loop systems – that is, when a company is tracking goods that never leave its own control.

That’s because all existing RFID systems use proprietary technology, which means that if Company A puts an RFID tag on a product, it can’t be read by Company B unless they both use the same RFID system from the same vendor. But most companies don’t have closed-loop systems, and many of the benefits of tracking items come from tracking them as they move from one company to another and even one country to another.

What is the difference between low-, high-, and ultra-high frequencies?

Just as your radio tunes in to different frequency to hear different channels, RFID tags and readers have to be tuned to the same frequency to communicate. RFID systems use many different frequencies, but generally the most common are low- (around 125 KHz), high- (13.56 MHz) and ultra-high frequency, or UHF (850-900 MHz). Microwave (2.45 GHz) is also used in some applications.

Radio waves behave differently at different frequency, so you have to choose the right frequency for the right application.

How much information can an RFID tag store?

It depends on the vendor and the application, but typically a tag would carry no more than 2KB of data – enough to store some basic information about the item it is on. Companies are now looking at using a simple “license plate” tag that contains only a 96-bit serial number.

The simple tags are cheaper to manufacture and are more useful for applications where the tag will be disposed of with the product packaging.

What is the read range for a typical RFID tag?

The read range of passive tags (tags without batteries) depends on many factors: the frequency of operation, the power of the reader, interference from metal objects or other RF devices.

In general, low-frequency tags are read from a foot or less. High frequency tags are read from about three feet and UHF tags are read from 10 to 20 feet. Where longer ranges are needed, active tags use batteries to boost read ranges to 300 feet or more.

Will RFID lead to massive layoffs of workers?

RFID technology is a labor-saving technology, so it’s likely your workers can be reallocated to more productive work – further increasing the productivity of your labor force.

The technology will likely create new jobs, just as internet technologies creating new jobs, from web developers to warehouse workers managing inventory for online stores such as Amazon.com. The jobs that will be affected by RFID are those that involve scanning barcodes. Most of those jobs also have other components, such as moving products or restocking shelves. Those jobs will not go away because of RFID.

Jovix Questions

AUTO-ID

Can Jovix be used without active RFID?

Jovix is a software solution that can be used as a standalone, without any RFID capabilities at all. Jovix is also “auto-ID agnostic”. It can be used with barcodes, passive RFID, battery-assisted passive RFID, and active RFID.

What is the size of an active tag?

RFID tags come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of tag that works best for your project. They can be as small as 1.5 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches, or as large as 6.0 x 4.0 x 2.0 inches. The active tags we recommend are 131 x 28 x 21 mm (5.2 x 1.1 x 0.85 inches). Don’t have a tape measure handy? Think about 1 length of, 1/2 the width of, and 2 times the height of an iPhone.

Does the size of the material/equipment dictate whether you are using active, passive or barcode?

Typically, the size of the material or equipment does not determine the best Auto-ID option. Rather, the type of material, its value, its replacement lead time, and its storage needs determine the best option. During our consulting sessions, we will identify all materials you want to track and recommend a tagging strategy. (For example: Barcode all indoor/warehouse items, active tags on all pipe spools, etc.)

If an RFID tag is damaged, how would you track that piece?

Jovix will prompt you if a tag is broken during the association process. Jovix also provides a report after each sweep to show which RFID tags have not been read.

Would we barcode each item and place an active tag at the pallet level?

Yes, that is very common. You can affiliate as many items with that tag as you need. Jovix uses Transfer Units which allow you to place one RFID tag on a pallet and associate all the material on that pallet to the single RFID tag. This is a common practice for “Bag & Tag”.

In one of your case studies, the company applied RFID tags during the receiving process. Why were the spools not tagged in the fab shop?

We allow customers to determine whether to include suppliers as users in their Jovix instance. Some customers may not see the return on tagging materials at the fab shops, while others cannot imagine life without it.

CAPABILITIES

Can Jovix be used to track commodities?

Jovix is a full materials management solution and can be used to track any type of material including commodities.

Does active RFID support real-time location of materials?

Active RFID can be used for real-time location, but the infrastructure required for implementing real-time location is significantly greater than the infrastructure requirements of near real-time location tracking.

How is the data from the VMRs downloaded into Jovix? (e.g. Wireless, Bluetooth, Wired?)

Our VMRs (Vehicle-Mounted Readers) can work online and offline. Some customers prefer to sync VMRs on a wireless network, in which case the data transfers back to Jovix in real time. Other customers take the VMRs offline to sweep a yard, then detach the reader and sync it to Jovix via an ethernet connection. Our VMRs can also sync via cellular, such as a 3G network.

CONNECTIVITY

Does the Jovix mobile software require network connection?

Jovix mobile is designed to operate offline mode to support remote locations where wireless networks often are not available.

CLIENTS

Can you provide some of your customers that are satisfied with your services?

We are happy to provide references individually. Ideally, we want to provide customer references relevant to your role, project type, and project initiatives. Contact us with the form at the bottom of this page to obtain information for customer referrals.

I have a specific question about a case study or project. How can I get more information?

You can access the case studies from the Success Stories menu at the top of this page. If you have specific questions regarding the case studies, please use the Contact Us form at the bottom of this page, and we can set up a call with one of our project experts.

PRIVACY & SECURITY

What about client's privacy? Do hidden readers or hidden tags violate client's privacy?

It is critical to educate all parties on what Jovix is, how it works, and how it affects current processes. We will work alongside your suppliers, clients, etc. to make sure your new processes adhere to policies. (Have you seen a trend around consulting, yet?)

What are the security concerns with data on tags and while communicating with readers?

The only data stored on a tag is the Auto-ID number itself. Jovix runs on a secure server, and both the software and mobile readers require a secure login and password. Logins and passwords are provided by your IT admins or Atlas RFID admins per your procedures. In order to best comply with your security procedures, we will determine who should have access to Jovix and what functionality they can access. We have deployed our solution on high-security sites (ex: nuclear) and are prepared to comply with steep security standards.

DATA MANAGEMENT

In your system, are the quality documents for individual pieces of material directly associated via barcode or RFID via link to a quality database or something similar?

Quality documents can be associated to materials as attachments and are accessible via the Jovix server user interface. Each document can be associated with a unique material ID, which is associated with either a barcode or RFID tag. That means a user could scan an item and see its accommodating document.

When you are receiving the data via spreadsheet exchange (no EDI - Electronic Data Interchange) do you have built-in functionality to allow you to compare newest spreadsheet to prior version and identify deltas?

After each data import, Jovix reports how many line items have been created, modified, or deleted. Jovix shows the current values for each unique field.

Is Jovix compatible with all or only certain project management software (i.e., Prolog, Oracle, etc.)?

Jovix is system agnostic and plays well with others! While we enjoy several integrations today including SmartPlant Materials and home-grown systems, we are open to integrating with your systems. Jovix can connect to an ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) data source or XML web service so you can optimize your current investments.

Is the software used to generate the pre-loaded parts list proprietary or user-friendly with the customer's database?

Parts Lists can be loaded in Jovix in multiple ways depending on your requirements. Many customers load parts lists as BOM Line Items in the Jovix Work Package workspace. Other customers load associated Parts Lists as Assemblies in Jovix to track split tag materials as individual line items become available from the vendor or expeditors.

Jovix can receive information from your current systems. You have the option to manually upload data into Jovix (via Excel or CSV file), or utilize our proprietary API for a custom integration. During a consulting session, we would map out what data you want to pull, how that data should translate into Jovix, and if that data should pull automatically. Jovix is commonly used to enhance data from existing customer systems, ensuring onsite users have what they need in the “language” they need it.

TRACEABILITY

Regarding traceability, how do you link MTRs to the tags?

You can import MTR data, such as heat numbers, into Jovix via custom fields. Users can also store logistical information (such as a driver’s name and truck number), transfer information, and special handling instructions.

This information is stored in Jovix and affiliated with a tag number. Once the tag is scanned, users can view all this necessary information. MTRs can also be stored as attachments in Jovix and associated with the specific material which can then be accessed on the Jovix server through the user interface.

PRICING

What is the cost per ID, readers, support, maintenance, management?

We are happy to provide a cost estimate individually after we understand your project’s components. We offer pricing by project and also pricing at an enterprise level. To dig deeper, please contact us with the form at the bottom of our website.

IMPLEMENTATION & TRAINING

What is the implementation time for Jovix on a project?

Implementation times vary based on the scope of your project. But, you can plan on 3-9 months from start to finish. If you don’t have integration needs, 3-4 months is reasonable. If you would like a sample timeline, please contact us using the form at the bottom of this website.

How many man hours does it take for adoption and change?

The average Jovix user can be proficient on the application within 3 months. But, change comes at a different rate for each organization. We understand some customers need more time with us onsite for the new processes to “sink in”. Adoption courses and workshops vary by customer; we can provide workshops for several hours or for several days.

Bottom line: We are dedicated to helping you manage the new processes until they become second nature.

HARDWARE

What is a VMR?

Vehicle Mounted Reader(s). These readers are placed on a work truck to scan large yards, thereby updating materials’ locations associated to active RFID tags. VMRs can read thousands of active tags in minutes.

Does the tablet have a barcode scanner?

Tablets can scan both barcodes and tags.

Do the mobile devices speak directly to the active tags or through access points?

The mobile readers detect active RFID tags directly, without an access point.

If the active tag and mobile device are talking directly (not through an access point), does that mean that the mobile device is, in effect, a mobile access point?

We define an access point as a point where the Jovix server data is stored and managed. The mobile reader is not considered a true access point because it only reflects data from the server and stores a small amount of new data until synced with the server.

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