RFID Cards

RFID Cards Remain On Trend

Simply register at the machine and save money and time: With the RFID employee ID card.

The RFID Card Continuously Receives Add-Ons

Billions of RFID cards produced and used for more than 20 years can't be wrong: Contactless cards are a success! The spectrum of possible applications is broad – from car rental to access control. For every letter in the alphabet at least one application area can be found. The RFID card owes this success to the high flexibility of the card design.

The smart interior - the RFID chip and antenna – is the technological focus. The optical design options as well as the additions of envelopes, lanyards, and more make the RFID card the authentication medium of choice in applications worldwide.

The Ulm-based RFID company AEG ID specialises in the development and production of RFID cards in the LF, HF, and UHF frequency ranges as well as combination solutions that are precisely tailored to the requirements of the respective users.

Although billions of RFID cards are in use, 100 % reliable hardware is particularly important in security-relevant authentication processes, such as machine activation.

RFID & Wireless IoT Global spoke to Simon Arch, Marketing and Sales Director, AEG ID, about why an RFID application can still be used in plug-and-play form on machines.

Simon Arch
Simon Arch
Marketing & Sales Director
Ulm, Germany

As Efficient as Possible, as Safe as Necessary

A digital identity, stored on an RFID card, greatly simplifies authentication in a wide variety of applications. Depending on the level of security required, a simple tap on a reader is sufficient. If the security level can already be scaled via the transponder chip used, additional security hurdles can be created in combination with biometric or manual entries.

The result depends on the type of application: Employees can concentrate on their work instead of implementing time-consuming logins; rental and leasing processes can be started immediately and securely. Time control systems receive exact data and employees only enter the rooms or areas for which they are authorised.

The Overall System Creates Efficiency

The most modern and secure infrastructure based on an RFID application remains susceptible to manipulation and misuse if processes are not all coordinated with each other. For the production and coding of employee ID cards, processes must be defined and implemented to ensure the non-issuance of card data.

Card management must also be described - from the allocation of rights to the end of the card life cycle. For this reason, it is important to implement an overall concept. In addition to the security aspects, the focus is on process optimisation and scalability as well as investment protection and future security.

Standards for the Use of Contactless Cards

The LF, HF, and UHF chips used by AEG ID are standardised according to the globally valid standards ISO14443 or ISO15693 as well as ISO/IEC18000. The internationally applicable standards specify the physical properties as well as the radio frequency and modulation methods to be used. The structure of communication and the transmission protocol for contactless data exchange via the air interface are also defined.

Range, Lifetime, and Chip Selection

RFID cards have reading ranges of a maximum of15 centimetres (ISO14443) or150 centimetres (ISO15693), depending on the LF or HF technology used and the ISO standards applied. The actual range in a realised application depends on national legislation, the working environment of the antenna, and the specific application. This clearly defined reading zone is intended to provide additional physical security.

A user must always be physically close to the reader with their card, which makes it more difficult to intercept radio communications via the air interface.

The life cycle of a card is approximately 500,000 write cycles, which corresponds to a service life of approximately ten years. The life of a card also depends on the card material used, such as PVC, PET, or PETG.

The RFID Card Continuously Receives Add-Ons

AEG ID started transponder production back in 1989, making it one of the pioneers in RFID worldwide. For three decades, the Ulm-based company has been developing and producing transponders for applications in industry, logistics, animal identification, access control, and security, as well as service and inventory, and in particular RFID cards in ISO format, which have always been used as company IDs.

In an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Simon Arch, Marketing and Sales Director at AEG ID, gives an outlook on the future of RFID cards. His clear message: RFID cards should not be retired for a long while yet!

Mr. Arch, at present, payment applications in particular are making the use of smartphones and wearables as "card replacements" increasingly attractive. Do RFID cards still have a future?

In any situation, RFID cards have a future! Although we are aware of the increasing spread of app-based authentication solutions, especially in the private environment. Payment via smartwatch is indisputably convenient. If a person's authentication involves an internal company process, such as access control or access to machines and tools, this should be strictly separated from private, personal devices.

Even in the future, companies with several thousand employees will not equip every employee – and certainly not temporary employees or service providers – with a business smartphone.

Here the RFID card is the simpler and more cost-effective solution. What we can now see in the field of machine registration is absolutely consistent with our experience in the RFID card environment.

Additional add-ons are integrated every few years. First it was time recording, then vending machines and canteen applications, and now authentication on machines. This automatically also increases the security level, because employees on multifunction cards - preferably loaded with credit – take good care of their cards.

Time recording and access control solutions have been available as established solutions for over 20 years. Hundreds of millions of cards are used worldwide in these applications alone. Can such a system also be implemented by less technologically experienced people today?

The standards are set, the technologies are known, the hardware components are mature. The solution set for machine authentication that we have now introduced benefits from the high technical level of RFID today.

If a company uses RFID employee ID cards, all we need to know is whether an LF or HF chip is being used and how the data on the ID medium is encoded. This information is sufficient to provide the appropriate RFID component set.

The most impressive thing is that the installation does not require any electronic or radio technical knowledge. This is cost-efficient, can be implemented in just a few minutes, and almost completely eliminates integration errors.

Stepping back from the application for logging on to machines: What influence does the card performance have on the efficiency of a newly designed machine?

The influence should not be underestimated. Especially in older applications which have undergone various hardware upgrades over the years, such as ski pass or parking solutions, or in companies that may have opened new locations over the years and installed new reader hardware there, the performance of the card is crucial.

In order to enable the secure authentication required for each application, comprehensive experience in card design is required. Secure and convenient authentication is only possible if the antenna geometry, chip, and capture hardware are optimally matched to each other. For this purpose, AEG ID has also developed an optimised coil geometry that delivers optimum results for both locking cylinders and terminals.

In our development and in our production facilities we have the possibility to work from the chip upwards. This enables us to precisely tune antennas, materials, sensitivities, and much more so that the application requirements are always 100 percent covered.


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