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What Are the Cost Benefits of RFID Middleware?

If you’re ready to implement a traceability solution using RFID technology, then you’ve seen that between your existing system and the hardware and software you’ll need, there’s a lot that goes into designing a solution that meets your business requirements. But there’s a software you can implement to simplify the solution: RFID middleware.

What is RFID middleware?

Middleware is a software that integrates the different components that make up a solution. From software programs and hardware to enterprise applications and databases and any component in between — RFID middleware connects them all.

What does it do?

RFID middleware provides configuration, monitoring and maintenance capabilities from a central console. The middleware supports EPC Global standard low level reader protocol (LLRP), enabling command and control of all the readers and antennas in your RFID landscape. LLRP is an agnostic protocol that supports most reader OEMs, simplifying the support for systems that consist of a mixed reader installed base.

RFID middleware allows you to create reader configurations specific to each reader — identified by IP address — and push those configurations to each reader. The LLRP configuration console makes it easy to optimize your read zones by allowing you to fine-tune reader settings. You can make adjustments to reader transmit power, RFID tag to reader air protocol, and tag-read sensitivity. Most importantly, these configuration files are saved as XML files in the middleware. Anytime a reader is power cycled or replaced, the RFID middleware will automatically push that reader’s configuration to it — eliminating unnecessary visits to the reader itself.

How does it work?

RFID middleware uses a monitoring console that provides a standard traffic light dashboard. The console displays the status of every reader and associated antenna, which you can check with a quick glance. Think about sitting in the middle of a one-million square foot manufacturing plant with 150 installed readers. With middleware, you save time, increase productivity, and reduce overall cost.

The middleware can also be configured to provide alerts and notifications in the event a device degrades or fails. The system can send an email or SMS message to designated personnel, leading to quick response and resolution when issues arise. This reduces downtime in your RFID read zones and eliminates the costs associated with manually recovering missed data transactions.

RFID middleware provides the maintenance functions necessary to sustain your RFID system. RFID readers are no different than PCs, laptops, or servers in that they require regular software patches or firmware updates to improve performance and resolve issues. The middleware provides a maintenance console that allows you to perform these reader updates from a central console, which eliminates the need to physically visit each reader. If you’re supporting a large logistics center with 150 readers requiring updates, you understand how much time and energy this saves you. That effort can be used elsewhere to drive business growth and profitability.

Most organizations today have some kind of facility maintenance department or group tasked with resolving issues. However, most of these teams lack the RFID knowledge to configure or maintain RFID readers. RFID middleware, for the most part, eliminates this need. If a reader needs replacing, the maintenance personnel only need to set the reader’s IP address and connect the network cable and power. When the RFID middleware sees the reader come online, it will immediately push the reader’s configuration to it, placing the reader back in production.

Overall, RFID middleware substantially reduces the cost to own an enterprise RFID system. The ability to centrally manage, monitor, and maintain a large population of readers dispersed across a large physical area to streamline management and increase efficiency. The ability to monitor and rapidly respond to issues in the RFID infrastructure eliminates downtime and the costs associated with it to ensure that your operations running at peak performance.

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