Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has broad applicability to the automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) industry in item management. As a wireless communication technique based on radio frequency technology, the applications cover multiple levels of the industrial, commercial and retail supply chains. These can include
- freight containers,
- returnable transport items (RTI),
- transport units,
- product packaging, and
- product tagging.
Performance tests define test methods that deliver results that allow the comparison of different RFID systems, interrogator and tags in order to select among them for use in a particular application.
The performance characteristics of devices (tags and interrogation equipment) can vary drastically due to application factors as well as the particular RFID air interface (frequency, modulation, protocol, etc.) being supported. Of key concern is the matching of the various performance characteristics to the user application. Additionally, in an open environment users of such technology demand multiple sources for these devices from technology providers. A key challenge is a method of evaluating the differences between various technology providers' products in a consistent and equitable manner.
ISO/IEC 18046-2:2011 provides a framework for meeting the above noted concern and challenges. To this end, clear definitions of performance as related to user application of RFID technology in the supply chain are provided. Based on such application-based definitions, test methods are defined with attention to the test parameters required for a consistent evaluation of RFID devices.
Of particular significance, these tests are defined for RFID devices having one antenna. It is common practice to have products with both single and multiple antennas to define an RFID transaction zone sufficient for the application. The defined test methods used are for a single antenna, but can equivalently be extended to equipment with multiple antennas, in order to evaluate performance under conditions more closely matching those of a particular application. However care must be exercised in multiple-antenna measurement since multiple antennas can cause antenna-to-antenna interactions, physical packaging limitations, mutual coupling issues, shadowing issues, directivity issues and other impacts, even with respect to interrogators since these can be limited in size, shape, and mounting method for many RFID applications.
ISO/IEC 18046-2:2011 defines test methods for performance characteristics of RFID interrogators for item management, and specifies the general requirements and test requirements for interrogators which are applicable to the selection of the devices for an application. The summary of the test reports form a unified tag datasheet. It does not apply to testing in relation to regulatory or similar requirements.