Because direct line of sight between the reader and tags is not necessary, there are many more placement options for RFID readers than were possible with bar code labels. Readers can be either placed in a fixed-position or be portable, just like bar code scanners. Fixed-position readers can be mounted to read items traveling through dock doors, conveyor belts, loading bays, gates, doorways and other areas. Readers may also be attached to lift trucks and other material handling equipment to automatically identify pallets and other items that are being moved. Interrogator capabilities have also been engineered to now be able to fit into smaller mobile devices.
The ease with which RFID can be integrated into current operations depends on the openness and flexibility of the technology infrastructure, especially the mobile computers and wireless LANs that will be used to collect and communicate RFID data. These variables will have a significant effect on the return-on-investment.
One way to maintain flexibility is to use mobile computers with card slots, peripheral ports and other expansion options that can be used to add RFID capability without sacrificing other functions. Smaller footprint interrogator devices, such as those in PC Card format or designed to work with handheld computers, can enable users to add RFID capabilities to their existing applications without having to reinvest in entirely new mobile computing systems