In our previous article about how did the RFID technology begin we explained the roots of RFID technology from radar to LF, HF and UHF developments. Now, in the current article, we will briefly explain, the UHF RFID history.

First steps for a large scale UHF RFID systems commercialization

At first, the commercial applications of the RFID technology in the industry were focused on lower frequencies LF and HF. But in the early 1990s, IBM developed and patented the first UHF RFID system. Since the very beginning, the advantages of UHF were clear. Among them, a longer read range (up to 12 meters), and faster data transfer. However, IBM never commercialized any of the  UHF RFID systems that they developed. Despite some of them were developed together with Walmart. Finally, when IBM entered in financial troubles in the mid-1990s, they sold its patents to Internec.

The main issue to commercialize the UHF RFID systems was the absence of protocols and standards for making possible large scale commercialization worldwide. The evolution of UHF RFID applications moved forward at a slow pace until the late 1990s. Was in 1990 when a number of organisations and universities founded the Auto-ID Center, nowadays the Auto-ID Labs organisation, to research and develop the radiofrequency identification of things. The Auto-ID Center together with EPCglobal set up common standards in order to design the architecture of the Internet of Things, pioneering the term of IoT. At the same time, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) introduced standards for the different elements of RFID from tags to readers.

Finally, in 2003, the retail giant Walmart requested to its top 100 suppliers to apply RFID labels to all shipments. This meant a milestone that put the UHF RFID on the logistics processes map. Afterwards, in addition to shipments, electronics like television sets, CDs, and stereos were also individually tagged due to their high-value. By the end of 2006 Walmart almost had implemented RFID technology company-wide.

Walmart is firmly committed to automating processes and improving business operations. That’s why Walmart has been contributing to spreading day by day the RFID technology application.

Why have UHF systems succeed in a very short time?

Decision makers at many renowned retailers realized that companies were losing sales and  customer satisfaction,  and also, increasing the number of missing products unknownly. All due  to the inaccuracy of inventories. Therefore, following Walmart’s route, other major companies began adopting RFID systems to control stock, automate processes and secure products.

The implementation of a UHF RFID system achieves:

  1. Inventory visibility. RFID enables accurate, real-time updated stock control.
  2. Customer convenience. Thanks to RFID logistics and management, the communications between customers and shops improve in speed and reliability through the webs and e-commerce platforms.
  3. Anti-theft effective system.
  4. Anti-fake checking.
  5. Traceability of items one by one with individual information per each one.

All these are the main benefits of implementing a UHF system. There are some other depending on the issues that companies have, and they want to solve with RFID. We hope this article will be useful for you, Stay tuned for more interesting papers about RFID technology.


Main photo by Sam Pack on Unsplash.

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