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RFID gates – where are they and why?

RFID gates with fixed readers are used in warehouses, logistic centers, loading docks, retail stores, for EAS activities and in personnel check-in/check-out systems. This article discusses RFID gates and their most common applications.

An RFID gate is a physical gate with a fixed RFID reader and antennas attached to it. The gate scans all tagged items that move through it. The system uses the same technology as RFID mobile computers, except for that everything works automatically and no manual labor is required. The automated operations make RFID gates a faster and more accurate way for checking goods compared to scanning everything manually with an RFID mobile computer.

The most remarkable benefit of RFID gates is definitely the fast handling of goods. The RFID gates are used in every stage of the supply chain creating a transparent system that is always up-to-date.

Most typical RFID gate applications:

  • To confirm that all items passing through are tagged at departure from the factory
  • For goods-in and goods-out at delivery centers and on loading docks
  • For goods-in to the store
  • For moving goods from the backroom to the sales floor
  • For EAS activities when the item leaves the store with a customer

If a product is claimed back to the factory because of e.g. a manufacturing error, the process of tracking and returning goods is fast since all RFID gates in the supply chain instantly receive a notification of the products that should be stopped and sent back.

RFID gates in warehouses

RFID gates in warehouses are used for registering all tags moving through a doorway/gate where the RFID reader and antennas are installed. In larger warehouses, there can be several individual RFID gates e.g. at each loading dock and between different departments. When the items are moved through the RFID gate, the reader shows the needed information on displays by the gate and in the backroom:

  • Alert if the load is missing items
  • Alert if the load contains incorrect items
  • Request the forklift driver to pass through the gate again (low/inaccurate read rate)
  • Suggest where to place pallets to be loaded to a truck

The RFID gates reduce the amount of manual labor and the forklift drivers are not required to step out of the trucks to read the tags manually or to start the reading process. Instead they just drive the forklift through the RFID gate and the movement of the tags from one part of the warehouse to another can thereby be seen in real-time throughout the system.

Goods travel fast in large warehouses and delivery centers, and RFID gates can speed up the processes by organizing and arranging the loading activities. Especially when it comes to perishable goods, the faster the handling processes - the fresher products on the shelves.

RFID gates on shop floor level

RFID gates speed up the goods-in process on the shop floor remarkably. And this makes a huge difference when it comes to increasing sales and improving customer service. Empty shelves are reportedly a large causer of lost sales.

RFID gates are really useful when it's time to replenish products from the back room to the shop floor. The RFID gate between these two areas register the goods and the sales assistants can easily check what has and hasn't already been replenished by using an RFID mobile computer. And the application possibilities certainly don't stop there. German fashion retailer Gerry Weber uses RFID gates to assure that items leaving the store have been purchased and that the tags are deactivated. The gate alerts if an active and/or not purchased tag tries to leave the store.

Sometimes the customers have already received the shop catalogues containing new products or campaign products before the products even arrive to the store. When the customers arrive to get their desirables, the items have to be on the shop floor ready to be bought. Opening boxes and carefully checking the contents manually at arrival is a slow way to handle the process. With RFID gates, the roller cages are just pushed through and DONE. The reader instantly generates a list of the arrived products and compares it to the list of expected items. If there are no differences between the lists, the delivery is marked as received and the goods are moved to the backroom or directly to the shop floor.

RFID gates in warehouses, loading docks and offices

RFID gates at workplaces

Authorities require that workplaces must know how many employees are inside the building in case of a fire or another emergency. By equipping employees with personal UHF RFID cards, RFID gates can be installed to automatically update the backend system about employees' whereabouts without them having to lift a finger. It is quite common that employees go out for lunch or a smoke and forget to sign-out at the surveillance system next to main doors. With RFID cards there is nothing to remember. You just walk through.

By installing RFID gates, e.g. the receptionist and safety controllers constantly have updated information about the employees who are inside the building. If a more specific location than just "in the building" is needed, the company simply installs more RFID gates and an electronic map showing where each employee currently is. This is especially important in hospitals and emergency rooms where lives might be at stake if a doctor can't be located quickly.

RFID gates at events

RFID gates have proven to be a successful way to achieve automated access control at festivals, concerts and amusement parks. By handing out tickets in the form of UHF RFID wristbands quick and smooth entry, less queues and enhanced safety are assured. The UHF RFID gate readers knows how many people are in a certain area (a VIP area, in front of the stage etc.) at a certain time and can thereby warn safety personnel before it gets out of hand.

RFID gates in homes

RFID gates in homes are still a little bit "out there". But who knows what the future will bring. Imagine a domestic application that allows parents of small children to check on their work laptops or mobile phone whether their children have arrived home from school or not. A fixed reader above the door reads the tag attached to the child's cellphone, keys or back pack and then notifies the parents that their child is home safely. The system could be extended with RFID gates at schools, letting teachers and parents know who's present and not.

14 comments on “RFID gates – where are they and why?”

  1. Gravatar of ANDY ROBSONANDY ROBSON
    Posted 24 October 2012 at 13:46:01

    Do you have an off-the-shelf personnel tracking solution applicable to the UK?

  2. Posted 24 October 2012 at 14:19:11

    Hello Andy,

    Currently not but we are actually constructing one for our own needs. If you are more interested in the subject, you can contact Janne Mäkeläinen at Nordic ID. His e-mail: janne.makelainen@nordicid.com

    BR, Mirva

  3. Gravatar of Josef mentzenJosef mentzen
    Posted 24 October 2012 at 20:29:47

    Hi !
    We are delivering The mentioned antennas to Gerry Weber and many other retailers.
    It is also possible to Track staff with The antennas.

  4. Gravatar of Raheel IqbalRaheel Iqbal
    Posted 09 September 2013 at 10:53:01

    what is the purpose of rfid gates in libraries ? how they can be used in libraries

  5. Gravatar of Kirsikka DrägerKirsikka Dräger
    Posted 10 September 2013 at 09:03:56

    Hello Raheel,

    in libraries, RFID gates are used for theft prevention and security purposes. Items that leave the library are automatically scanned for information on whether they have been checked out and tags deactivated.

    Gates can be used to keep an up to date on the position of an item. Though for locating items, smart shelves are more and more the way to go. Check below article on RFID in libraries:
    http://www.rfidarena.com/2012/11/8/can-rfid-save-libraries.aspx. Does this cover your answer?

    Kirsikka

  6. Gravatar of Sanjay R DavesSanjay R Daves
    Posted 18 September 2013 at 15:34:04

    Very well illustration

  7. Gravatar of Kirsikka DrägerKirsikka Dräger
    Posted 20 September 2013 at 16:35:10

    Thank you Sanjay!

  8. Posted 21 March 2014 at 21:19:56

    School management wants to track their student with RFID technology while enter/exit in school and send a short massage to parents. There are 7000 student and they can allow maximum 20 minutes time to complete the record within four(4) gates(5 Meter space for each gate). Is there any RFID solution from particular company recommend me ??

  9. Gravatar of Fred GluckmanFred Gluckman
    Posted 16 September 2015 at 20:20:31

    I need a very small portable gate that can attach to the outside of a door frame and last up to three days. Does this exist?

  10. Gravatar of Suvi DalénSuvi Dalén
    Posted 17 September 2015 at 10:31:50

    Hi Fred,

    we have contacted you through e-mail.

    br,
    Suvi

  11. Gravatar of Moon PirachaMoon Piracha
    Posted 05 November 2016 at 20:54:27

    Hello,

    i am looking RFID base Pass Through Gate device can able to detect passing id cards near to gate of a school and detect tag smart id of students and mark auto attendance and same to forward a notice for parents at arrival and exit of the child for security reason it is a good security system for institutes if i google i can find only the required solution in india but not any other country if any possible to manufacture the solution cheap as for school not paying big amounts

  12. Gravatar of Moon  PirachaMoon Piracha
    Posted 05 November 2016 at 20:57:11

    Dear Nitin if you found any solution regarding the message above from you for RFID Attendance kindly forward me details at it.services@myself.com

    thank u

  13. Gravatar of MarcMarc
    Posted 01 March 2017 at 01:41:46

    Does anyone know of any RFID reader capable of reading several HF (NFC) tags at the same time?

    Any solutions much appreciated.
    Thanks
    Marc

  14. Gravatar of PauliinaPauliina
    Posted 22 March 2017 at 16:04:42

    Hello Marc,
    I found several groups in Linkedin that focus in that field. If you have a profile there you might get an in-depth answer quickly from NFC experts.

    Does that help you?

    Pauliina

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