Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. These are replacing the well-known bar codes that appear on many products (and pallets, parcels and mail) and allow tracking of their progress through the supply chain. RFID tags are effectively intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product going through a transport and distribution system, as they contain electronically stored information which can be read from up to several meters away.

Some RFID tags require no battery and are powered by the electromagnetic fields used to read them. Others use a local power source and emit signals at radio frequencies. Unlike a bar code a RFID tag does not need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the tracked object.

RFID tags are used in many industries. They can be attached to products during production to track progress through manufacture and distribution. They can be attached to the packaging used for the conveyance of products (including vehicles and trailers).They can also be used to track certain products through distribution channels where traceability is critical, e.g. pharmaceuticals.

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