Automatic Identification/Datacapture, AIDC, RFID

Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) refers to the process of automatically identifying and collecting data about objects/goods, then logging this information in a computer. The term AIDC refers to a range of different types of data capture devices. These include barcodes, biometrics, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), magnetic stripes, smart cards, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and voice recognition. AIDC devices are deployed in a wide range of environments, including: retail, warehousing, distribution & logistics and field service. The first RFID solutions were developed in 1980s. It has since been deployed in a range of markets including Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI) systems due to RFID's ability to track moving objects. RFID is also effective in challenging manufacturing environments where barcode labels might not prove resilient enough.

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Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC)

Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) refers to the methods of automatically identifying objects, collecting data about them, and entering that data directly into computer systems (i.e. without human involvement). Technologies typically considered as part of AIDC include bar codes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), biometrics, magnetic stripes, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), smart cards, and voice recognition. AIDC is also commonly referred to as “Automatic Identification,” “Auto-ID,” and "Automatic Data Capture."

Barcoding has become established in several industries as an inexpensive and reliable automatic identification technology that can overcome human error in capturing and validating information. AIDC is the process or means of obtaining external data, particularly through analysis of images, sounds or videos. To capture data, a transducer is employed which converts the actual image or a sound into a digital file which can be later analysed. Radio frequency identification (RFID) is relatively a new AIDC technology which was first developed in 1980’s. The technology acts as a base in automated data collection, identification and analysis systems worldwide

In the decades since its creation, barcoding has become highly standardised, resulting in lower costs and greater accessibility. Indeed, word processors now can produce barcodes, and many inexpensive printers print barcodes on labels. Most current barcode scanners can read between 12 and 15 symbols and all their variants without requiring configuration or programming. For specific scans the readers can be pre-programmed easily from the user manual.  

Despite these significant developments, the adoption of barcoding has been slower in the healthcare sector than the retail and manufacturing sectors. Barcoding can capture and prevent errors during medication administration and is now finding its way from the bedside into support operations within the hospital.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not necessarily need to be within line of sight of the reader, and may be embedded in the tracked object. It can also be read only or read-write enabling information to be either permanently stored in the tag or it can be read-write where information can be continually updated and over-written on the tag.

RFID has found its importance in a wide range of markets including livestock identification and Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI) systems and are now commonly used in tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to track the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart. These automated wireless AIDC systems are effective in manufacturing environments where barcode labels could not survive. They can be used in pharmaceutical to track consignments, they can also be used in cold chain distribution to monitor temperature fluctuations. This is particularly useful to ensure frozen and chilled foods have not deviated from the required temperature parameters during transit.

Cost used to be a prohibitive factor in the widespread use of RFID tags however the unit costs have reduced considerably to make this a viable technology to improve track and trace throughout the supply chain. Many leading supermarket chains employ RFID insisting that their suppliers incorporate this technology into the packaging of the products in order to improve supply chain efficiency and traceability.

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