Also indexed as: AVI, Automated Vehicle Identification.
What is RFID?
RFID makes it possible to give each node its own unique identifying number, to provide vehicles, assets, people, work in process, medical devices etc. all with individual unique identifiers – like the license plate on a car. This is a vast improvement over paper and pencil tracking or bar code tracking that has been used since the 1970s.Furthermore, passive RFID tags (those without a battery) can be read if passed within close enough proximity to an RFID reader. It is not necessary to “show” the tag to the reader device, as with a bar code. In other words it does not require line of sight to “see” an RFID tag, the tag can be read inside a case, carton, box or other container, and unlike barcodes RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time.
TransCore designs, manufactures, and distributes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, readers, and antennas specifically for use in high-performance, high-speed transportation applications where potentially harsh operating environments are the rule rather than the exception.
Millions of TransCore RFID tags and thousands of TransCore readers are deployed in transportation applications such as Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) for electronic toll roads, variable pricing systems, all electronic toll systems, traffic management systems, airport security and ground transportation systems, border control and homeland security systems, electronic vehicle registration systems, parking systems, and other intelligent transportation systems (ITS).
TransCore’s innovative products are also used for asset tracking applications that use Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) technology in rail, fleets, and container tracking solutions. Today, 100 percent of all railcars used by North America’s Class 1 railroads are equipped with TransCore’s RFID tags for Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) for railcars and locomotives operating in “interchange” with each other. Throughout the world, spanning five continents, TransCore has installed millions of tags and thousands of readers for the rail and intermodal industry.
Transportation Applications Compared to Supply Chain Applications
Applied RFID technology pioneered by TransCore in the 1980’s is now used in many other applications in addition to transportation. The latest industry “buzz” is centered on RFID used in retail supply chain applications. So, what’s the difference between RFID technology applied to transportation applications versus retail and wholesale supply chain applications?
First, supply chain applications involve tracking many items (retail item packages, cartons, cases, and pallets) at a relatively slow rate of speed (e.g. fork-lift, conveyor, or items on a storage rack or display shelf) in a protected environment. Many times the value of items being tracked in supply chain applications are of relatively low value.
On the other hand, RFID technology applied to transportation applications involves tracking only a few items or assets (cars, trucks, trailers, shipping containers, etc.) but at a high rate of speed and at long distances. Many transportation applications are specified and tested at highway speeds exceeding 100 MPH. The value of the underlying assets being tracked in transportation applications is generally higher than the value of items being tracked in supply chain applications.
These differences in speeds and numbers of items being identified dictate the performance and cost of the underlying hardware and software necessary to support the desired applications. For example, lower cost RFID readers, typically used in supply applications and which are certified under the FCC’s Part 15 regulation for unlicensed use, will not perform satisfactorily in transportation applications. In transportation applications, due to the travel speed of the vehicles and the requirement for 99%+ accuracy, more expensive, more powerful and licensed FCC Part 90 readers are required.
Transportation Applications Compared to Supply Chain Applications
There are significant differences in tag packaging between RFID tags used in transportation applications and RFID tags used in supply chain applications. RFID tags deployed in supply chain applications are generally, although not always, designed to be disposable, one time use tags. They only need to endure the single journey through the supply chain from the manufacturer, to distribution center(s), to the retail shelf and, finally, to retail checkout. After checkout, the supply chain RFID tag is either disabled or destroyed.
Transportation RFID tags, on the other hand, must be designed for years of continued, reliable use in the harshest operating environments. Consider, for example, RFID tags affixed to all rail cars used by Class 1 railroads operating in North America. These tags are subjected to every imaginable harsh environmental exposure (heat, cold, snow, ice, dirt, rain, oil, and, in certain cases, temperatures over 350° (F) yet they are required to be installed once and operate indefinitely with 99%+ reliability.
Also, consider transportation tags used in road tolling applications. These tags are installed on vehicles’ windshields where temperatures range from sub-zero to 150° (F) and must operate for many years or indefinitely with 99%+ accuracy.
Finally, when comparing prices between supply chain tags and transportation tags, in addition to the above factors, there always will be the issue of economies of scale. Although TransCore has millions of tags installed in transportation applications, these volumes pale in comparison to the volume potential of billions of tags that could be deployed in supply chain applications.
In 1988, TransCore began shipping its first hard case RFID transportation tags to the marketplace. Since then, TransCore has shipped millions of tags for transportation applications ranging from electronic road tolling, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for automatic vehicle identification (AVI), positive train positioning for railroads, and parking and security access control applications.
In May 2000 TransCore introduced IntelliTag®, the first high-performance, low cost, flexible windshield sticker tag for use in high-speed transportation applications. IntelliTag was rebranded the eGo® windshield sticker tags when TransCore acquired Amtech in 2000, Due to the overwhelming industry acceptance of TransCore’s eGo windshield sticker tags, millions of eGo high performance sticker tags have been deployed around the world.
Today, TransCore offers both tag-packaging options – hard case and flexible “sticker” tags.
TransCore provides two general classes of readers depending on application requirements – single protocol and multi-protocol. Further, readers might be fixed mount or portable (handheld) models. Performance and selection of an individual TransCore reader is wholly dependent on the application environment in which the reader is to be deployed.
Just as there is no single reader or tag combination that satisfies all RFID transportation applications, there is no single antenna that meets all application needs. As a result, TransCore manufactures and distributes a wide variety of antennas in order to offer the right antenna for a given transportation application.
The antennas listed below are organized by the markets in which the antennas are commonly used.