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 RF technology the applications cover multiple levels of the industrial, commercial and retail supply chains. These may include
- freight containers,
- returnable transport items (RTIs),
- transport units,
- product packaging,
- product tagging.
The performance characteristics of devices (tags and interrogation equipment) may vary drastically due to application factors as well as the particular RF 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 18046:2006 provides a framework for meeting the above noted concern and challenges. To this end, a clear definition of performance as it relates to user application of RFID technology in the supply chain is provided. Based on such application-based definitions, test methods are defined with attention to the test parameters that must be defined and controlled for a consistent evaluation of RFID devices.
It should be noted that the test methods defined in ISO/IEC 18046:2006 form the basic framework for performance evaluation and are not exhaustive. Many applications may require a slightly different set of test conditions to match the use of RFID to the user requirements. The test methods defined herein may be modified to accommodate the specifics of the application as specified by the user.
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 methods can easily be extended from equipment with a single antenna to apply to equipment with multiple antennas, in order to evaluate performance under conditions more closely matching those of a particular application.
ISO/IEC 18046:2006 defines test methods for performance characteristics of radio frequency identification (RFID) devices (tags and interrogation equipment) for item management, and specifies the general requirements and test requirements for tag and interrogator performance which are applicable to the selection of the devices for an application. It does not apply to testing in relation to regulatory or similar requirements.