Tracking cardboard boxes? RFID?


I am considering to use barcode readers for tracking boxes in a large warehouse, but they require a manual intervention for ensuring a succesfull read.

I would rather do some experiments with a cheap device mounted on each box, and some gates or areas where they can be detected.

As I understand it is difficult to get more than 30 cm reach with RFID…

Is there any alternative with similar features?

Search for RFID Gate Reader

Did already, but I am looking for longer distance! Ideas?

What distance are you looking for?

It would be nice to have a big door 4x4 meters covered, as a gate, so that any boxes moving through that would be seen by the reader.

Hmm… 4x4. This is tough.

How so? I get false reads on RFID also. So, I’m not sure either solution will ensure perfect results.

Thats why I was looking for another technology! But havent found any, yet!

I thought Justin had a RFID/NFC/etc reader with a much larger antenna. I’ll search later on today to see if I can dig up that thread.

You are probably referring to this:

Which I dont think gives the required distance…

Can you make use of a rfid based conveyor scanner?


Nope, no conveyors used.

What about using a camera + a sensor that would trip the camera to take a picture of one of the box’s sides and possess the imagine for a special symbol or barcode…

Use the AZURE and the cloud for processing the images… it will be on the fly…


Interesting idea, already considering it using the Pixy Cam from Carnegie Mellon.

But the box is not always clearly visible. I think I need to stick with some RF.

I just read about this: where Nike and iPod got together to make a RF based system to track stuff. Depending on the value of the boxes (like if full of iPads) it might be worth implementing throw-away gizmos. Or ask the receivers to send them back every now and again??

Edit: Or wow, tape one of these to the packing slip that the customer has to sign accepting delivery, so it comes back home. That would totally work as the bean counters got to have their paperwork!

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At the last company I worked at we had an active RFID which was exactly credit card sized and just a bit thicker. It had an expected battery life of about 4 years we could easily pick it up about about 30 meters or so. We used them in trucks and could detect a truck when it arrived at the yard. If I recall correctly I think it announced itself every 10 seconds and was based on a transceiver chip which was probably similar to the Nordic chip. Something like that might work quite well because it can read stacked boxes without actually seeing the box itself.

@ cacycleworks - This is brilliant and interesting stuff, Thanks!

I will check out these and consider a small test device, not really sure how to power/clk these boards. Research begins!

@ KiwiSaner - This also sounds really promising, will you be able to recall a name or brand on this?

@ njbuch - In that particular case it was custom built solution and something that they bundled with their other mainstream product. They did not sell it on its own. (It was a Fleet Management company). My point was more to say that its technically possible to do that with an active RFID.

If you google for “active RFID” or “long range RFID” you will find quite a number of companies selling similar type tags and readers.

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@ njbuch - have a look at this maybe that could help?