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E-magazine RFID & Wireless IoT Global Issue 02/2022
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Times-7: An Introduction to Multiplexers

Image: Times-7

Times-7: An Introduction to Multiplexers

Using Multiple Antennas? Save Costs with a Multiplexer

Multiplexers connect multiple antennas to a single reader port. This allows your customers to make more efficient use of expensive hardware to reduce the cost of their UHF RFID application. Do your customers require multiple antennas for their applications? Discover what a multiplexer does and how it can benefit your customers by reading on in this Times-7 blog post.

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Connecting Multiple Antennas to One Reader

Multiplexers use a combination of intelligent hardware and software to allow one Antenna port to support multiple antennas for transmitting and receiving. This allows for more antennas to be used by a single reader.

RFID Multiplexers Incorporate Multiplexing and Demultiplexing

An RFID system requires communication both to and from the tag. This means that a multiplexer needs to receive a signal from a single port of the reader and deliver this signal to one of the multiple output ports. This is called demultiplexing, as the multiplexer takes a single input and has numerous outputs. Once the tag has received this signal, it will send information back. So, the multiplexer needs to accept multiple inputs and output this to one port for the reader; this is called multiplexing.

RFID Multiplexers use switches to select which antenna is active at a time, therefore most multiplexers will also require an additional connection to the reader.

Multiplexers are Low Cost, Easy to Deploy and Provide High Coverage

Low Cost: Multiplexers are cost-effective because in cases where a large amount of coverage is needed, a large number of antennas may be required. This can require installing multiple RFID readers to power the antennas. Since RFID readers are more expensive than RFID multiplexers, customers can save hardware costs by using multiplexers to reduce the number of RFID readers needed.

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In an RFID system, each RFID reader will require setting up from a trained system integrator. Reducing the number of readers by making more efficient use of their ports reduces the hardware cost and the service cost for deployments by saving unnecessary work.

Easy Deployment: Multiplexers are often proprietary to their respective companies; this means that their connection to the reader is streamlined and simple. Allowing for easy deployment for any system integrator. An example of how easy Multiplexers are to deploy can be seen with Impinj’s Antenna Hubs (Multiplexers) which have simple setup guides available here.

High Coverage: Multiplexers can provide a single RFID Reader with a connection for up to 32 antennas. Typically, a fixed reader connects between two and eight antennas.

Determine the application and frequency before using a multiplexer. The right multiplexer depends on the customer's application and the frequency of use. Multiplexing isn't right for every application; RFID readers will only communicate through one antenna at a time. This means that if you increase the number of antennas, you will decrease how frequently an antenna reads. For applications that are reading fast-moving objects, this can be an issue. However, for applications that need to update infrequently, like stock tracking, Multiplexers can allow large warehouses to be covered with great efficacy.

Use Cases that can Benefit from a Multiplexer:

  • Inventory management in large warehouses
  • Item tracking in large facilities
  • Real-time visibility in manufacturing
  • Equipment monitoring in hospitals
  • Office asset tracking
  • Applications requiring a large area of coverage

RFID systems with expansive coverage may require several RFID readers to achieve the end goal. With a Multiplexor, users can get extensive RFID coverage with a reduced number of readers.

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George Mitchell
George Mitchell
Business Development Manager
Petone, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Jos Kunnen
Jos Kunnen
Petone, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
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