At hotels and in the hospitality industry (resorts, B&Bs, cruise liners, ferries), RFID key fobs and wristbands are used for access control as an alternative to smart cards. They can be used to open room doors and to access floors, car parking and special areas such as spas or swimming pools, tennis courts and private beaches. They can also serve as electronic wallets, containing credit to be spent on activating sun lamps, for payments at cafés, restaurants and hotel boutiques, and for purchasing snacks and drinks from vending machines.
RFID key fobs and wristbands are a widely used alternative to cards for access control in the leisure sector — gyms, swimming pools, sports facilities and spas, water parks. Convenient and versatile, they allow users to be recognised at the entrance and to access the car park, sports machines — to set training parameters and record activities — and restricted areas such as spas. They can also be used as a virtual wallet to activate sunlamps and hairdryers, for payments at cafés, restaurants and vending machines that dispense snacks.
RFID key fobs and wristbands are used as electronic wallets for vending machines: coffee, soft drink and snack vending machines. They are widely used throughout the self-service sector, which features automatic vending machines for products and services, extending to laundromats, self-service car washes, golf ball vending machines and water refilling stations for the distribution of public water. Credit for payments at automatic dispensers and vending machines is stored on the key fob or wristband.
RFID key fobs are used as an alternative to ID badges for access control and to detect the number of people present at a company. Conveniently secured to a handbag or key ring, or worn around the neck like a pendant, they are used to recognise employees and outsiders (visitors, consultants, freelancers) at the entrance to the company, to access to the car park, laboratories and other specific areas, to record movements within the facilities, and to protect specific areas from unwanted entry, thus ensuring greater security. What’s more, RFID key fobs can store multiple applications in their memory, acting as a digital signature medium or a virtual wallet containing credit to spend at the canteen or vending machines.
Made of durable, long-lasting materials such as PVC, ABS and PA6, RFID key fobs for companies have the same reading and operating features as RFID cards, and are available in several frequencies (LF, HF, UHF).
They can be encoded on request and customised during the printing stage using different techniques (i.e. pad printing, silkscreen printing, offset) depending on the material used. Serial numbering can also be applied using laser or inkjet printing.
Key fobs and wristbands are useful for access control at campsites and resorts as they allow guests to be identified when entering and leaving the facility, besides enabling them to access their accommodations (room, bungalow or flat). They also allow access to parking and restricted areas, such as private beaches, sports facilities or spas, protecting these areas from outsiders. As well, they can be used as an electronic wallet to pay for showers and hairdryers, café and restaurant services, and snacks and drinks taken from vending machines.
RFID key fobs are an alternative to contactless cards for charging electric cars at dedicated charging posts. In Italy, there are currently 12,623 charging stations (or charging posts) for electric cars according to the latest quarterly survey by the Motus-e association, which brings together players in the field of electric mobility. Eighty percent of these are installed along the road, while the remaining 20% are found at supermarkets and shopping arcades (Source: Cobat.it, 7 October 2021).
Unlike apps, which allow cars to be charged via smartphone, RFID key fobs for charging electric cars require neither a mobile data connection nor GPS to function, so they are more reliable for drivers. Key fobs are a sort of virtual wallet that store credit to pay for charging. Enabling the electricity supply is very simple. Indeed, with radio-frequency technology, the user only need bring the key fob close to the charging symbol on the charging station, which is equipped with an RFID reader, and charging begins.
RFID key fobs are made of durable materials — PVC, ABS, PA6 — and can be attached to a handbag or directly to the car keys. Available in different frequencies (LF, HF, UHF), they can be encoded on request and customised during printing, using pad printing, silkscreen printing or offset printing. Serial numbering can also be applied using laser or inkjet printing.
In industry, RFID tags are designed to uniquely identify objects along the entire production chain, from the start of the production process until the product enters the warehouse (logistics). RFID hard tags and labels for industry are either applied to or embedded directly in the product, on metal or non-metal objects, or on product transport and handling containers, such as materials handling baskets, trolleys and pallets. Their use allows processes to be automated and ensures greater efficiency, significantly reducing the risk of human error.
The use of radio-frequency identification technology in industrial settings meets specific needs within factories:
- Monitoring the progress of work. With hard tags and RFID labels, the processing status of the product is always known, along with if and when it has passed through the machine — thus tracking all processing steps — and providing the machines with a list of activities. Moreover, thanks to RFID technology, it is possible to study work queues, monitoring the tasks assigned to workers and calculating average production times, with enormous savings in time.
- Product authenticity verification. All information about product processing steps and the history of the product is written in the tag, which is equipped with a memory unit. This guarantees traceability, authenticity and originality.
Maintenance. RFID hard tags are also used for corrective and preventive maintenance of industrial plants. The tags are read at the beginning and end of maintenance activities, calculating the average time required for the operation and enabling better work planning.
In logistics, radio-frequency identification technology is now widely used in all areas of warehouse management. RFID hard tags and labels (smart labels) are applied to products, pallets and containers to identify and track them, automate inventory management and prepare goods for dispatch to the customer (picking), significantly reducing the time needed for these operations and the risk of errors.
Municipalities and local authorities need to record waste deliveries when applying door-to-door pay-as-you-throw waste collection and calculating the variable part based on the amount of unsorted waste produced and delivered by users. This is essential for precise fee calculations. The waste collector uses an RFID reader to read a passive RFID tag — hard tag or wet inlay — applied to waste-collection bins or bags. Hence, deliveries are recorded and the data are stored and transmitted in real time to a portal on the cloud. Each tag is uniquely linked to a user. When read with the reader, the date and time of detection and transmission to the server on the cloud are recorded, together with the tag ID. The amount of residual municipal waste delivered is measured to calculate the cost by determining the volume of waste based on the ‘size of the bin set out by the user or the capacity of the bag delivered or collected from the user’, as specified in Art. 4 of Ministerial Decree of 20 April 2017 on door-to-door pay-as-you-throw waste collection. In particular, bags or bins distributed to users by the local authorities have a predefined capacity — e.g. 20, 15, 10 litres — corresponding to a fixed quantity of unsorted waste — 5, 10, 15 kg of waste, etc.
Radio-frequency identification technology has made a strong impact on retail in recent years, contributing a number of important benefits in terms of organisation, time savings and profitability. Widely used in various sectors, from food to fashion and mass-market retail, RFID labels for retail are involved in all the main aspects of shop management, from inventories to anti-theft systems and shelf optimisation with merchandise that is more profitable.
RFID tags, or smart labels, are affixed to uniform goods — belonging to the same merchandise category — from clothing to shoes, accessories, sports items, personal-care products, cosmetics, food and beverages. They are available in flexible materials, such as adhesive paper, PET, polyester and nylon taffeta — two fabrics used for labels in the fashion industry — in various shapes and sizes. They adapt perfectly to the most diverse products. What’s more, their low price means they can be applied to large quantities of products at favourable costs.
Radio-frequency technology is being applied across the board in the healthcare sector. At healthcare facilities, RFID hard tags and labels are used to monitor surgical and hospital equipment and effectively manage inventory, the pharmacy and the hospital laundry, saving both time and money. RFID wristbands are instead used to identify patients in hospital. Hard tags are also popular in the veterinary sector for tracking pets and farm animals.