What is an RFID reader?

RFID is an abbreviation that comes from English and stands for "Radio Frequency Identification Reader". Behind the term is a card reader for RFID applications. The RFID reader is able to read and store data. This innovative technology expands the concept of barcodes, as it is no longer necessary to have direct visual contact or physical proximity to the product. Thus, objects and living beings can be automatically identified and located with the help of RFID readers. It is also no problem for an RFID reader/writer to analyse multiple objects - bulk detection is possible.
Since RFID readers involve fully automatic communication between an RFID transponder and an RFID reader, this is also referred to as Auto-ID (Automatic Identification and Data Capture). The technology now functions as a key element in commerce and logistics and it is impossible to imagine the everyday working life of many companies without it:

  • production
  • customer and payment cards
  • automotive industry
  • trade
  • healthcare
  • logistics
  • libraries
  • domestic and farm animals
  • events

How does an RFID reader work?

The Radio Frequency Identification Reader is a receiver that interacts with RFID transponders. The integrated RFID antenna emits a signal that is absorbed by the transponder - also called a tag. The tag processes the data, which can be information about workpieces, orders or materials, for example. Afterwards, this data is transferred back to the RFID reader and evaluated. This means that RFID readers are mainly concerned with generating commands, filtering the adapted signal and analysing the data.
Last but not least, the processed information has to be transferred to a host system. The results are checked and stored. Normally, these are warehouse management, ERP, merchandise management or production planning systems.

Advantages of RFID technology
RFID technology is the pivot and anchor point of countless work processes in industry and commerce. Through the use of RFID transponders and RFID readers, a comprehensive automation of the economy has taken place in recent decades. Productivity has been continuously increased and efficiency improvements have been steadily increasing. This is due to the fact that the use has become incredibly simplified.
RFID readers require no visual contact or touch point compared to barcodes or other automated identification methods. Data exchange is fully automated and wireless. Even large distances can be bridged effortlessly through the smart communication of the RFID transponder with the RFID reader. In addition, the RFID chip, reader and label are resistant to dirt, moisture and high temperature fluctuations. And while barcodes become almost unreadable in poor lighting conditions, data capture and transmission via RFID works flawlessly.

Furthermore, the applications can be easily customised. Both the size, the range, the shape and the storage medium can be personalised and adapted to one's own needs and requirements. Despite versatile designs, the radio waves of RFID solutions are able to penetrate various materials. Wood, plastic, cardboard and textiles are no obstacle for the technology; the products' information can be read flawlessly.

Moreover, the data can be revised and aligned. It is also worth mentioning that the sensitive information is protected against manipulation and theft. After all, they are not reproduced in plain text: they are encrypted.
A final point is the time and cost savings that companies experience through the use of RFID applications. Pulse capture enables the data readout and transfer of multiple products. The first-read rate is almost 100 per cent and the RFID solutions also make use of fast inspection processes.

Different types of RFID readers

Over the years, different RFID readers have emerged. The classification depends on various factors. These include:

  • frequency range
  • Power supply
  • Reading range
  • Use case
  • Mobility
  • Place of use

Mobile RFID readers
Mobile RFID readers are called handheld RFID readers. This name already gives relevant clues to the design and characteristics of this model. This type of reader is not stationary, but mobile. The readers do not need a permanent power supply because the information is temporarily stored and transferred to a host system. Data is transferred via WLAN or by connecting to the docking station.

The handy devices are particularly useful in the warehouse to carry out a periodic inventory. They are used for inventory management and item search and can help control import, export and shrinkage. Other areas of application include omni-channel order processing and picking.

Stationary RFID readers
Stationary RFID readers or RFID gate readers rely on a gate. When products pass through this gate, the reader detects the RFID transponder. Communication is also ensured by opposing pairs of antennas. Such an application is primarily profitable for companies that want automated identification of objects. A stationary RFID reader is also particularly advantageous for bulk scanning. Even when scanning several items, an error-free reading of the tagged objects is possible.

This variant is mainly used by the manufacturing industry, transport and logistics companies. Furthermore, such an application is also profitable for libraries and retail. This way, theft can be counteracted and the inventory can be checked. At events, the technology is used to measure time and identify visitors.

Semi-stationary RFID readers
A mixture of mobile and stationary RFID readers are the semi-stationary readers, also called desktop readers. They are inexpensive and include all current RFID technologies. They can be connected to the computer using a USB port or a COM interface.

The semi-stationary reader covers the following areas of application:

  • point of Sale
  • intelligent shelves
  • displays
  • software protection
  • online banking
  • transponder Programming Station
  • document localisation
  • issue points
  • inventory management
  • theft protection
  • telecommunications
  • reception

The smartphone as a reader
In the meantime, more and more smartphones and tablets are coming onto the market that have NFC compatibility. These devices are not only able to use the internet, but can also communicate with other devices using the network connection. This makes mobile payment and smart home possible. If objects have now been equipped with an NFC transponder, the smartphone can read out the data. The only prerequisite is that the NFC functionality is activated and contact is made with the chip.

What to look for when buying an RFID reader

Since there is now a wide range of RFID readers on the market, some quality criteria should be used to choose the right reader:

  • system frequency
  • performance/range
  • resistance
  • coupling possibilities with EDP systems
  • compatibility with other RFID transponders

Different frequency ranges
Radio waves act as a transport system for the information to be transmitted. RFID readers use different frequency ranges:

  • low frequency range (LF): 125 KHz
  • high frequency range (HF): 13.56 MHz
  • ultra high frequency range (UHF): 860 to 960 MHz

Zebra FX9600

To achieve maximum visibility and efficiency in your most rugged environments, your operation needs an RFID reader that can keep up with the high volume and wide variety of pallets, cases and tagged items that go in, out and through your warehouse and dock doors each day.

Now, get the performance and features you need to handle it all with the FX9600 — without breaking the bank. With industry-leading read rates, exceptional read accuracy and superior RF sensitivity, the FX9600 has what it takes to automate nearly every aspect of your inventory management — from receiving and putaway to picking and shipping — without errors or bottlenecks. The FX9600 is the industry-best performance your operation needs at a price you can afford.

Show more…


When it comes to performance, the FX9600 delivers the best. The exceptionally high RF sensitivity delivers the greatest accuracy and longer read ranges, even in dense RF environments with challenging materials. And with the most power in its class, you can support the highest throughput, as well as all of your sophisticated software applications.


Host embedded applications directly on the FX9600, reducing deployment time, cost and complexity. With support for PoE and PoE+, there’s no need to run power drops to each reader — and with PoE+ or a 24V power supply, even long cable runs won’t reduce available RF power.


Designed for tough environments, the rugged FX9600 can handle it all — damp dusty work areas, extreme heat and subzero temperatures. And with the eight-port model, you can cover more dock doors and portals with fewer readers, significantly lowering your investment, deployment and management costs.

Show less…

Siemens RF680R

The high-performance SIMATIC RF680R reader has four antenna connections that can be configured as required for individual read stations, or as gates. The high radiant power of up to 2 W ERP / 4 W EIRP (dependent on antenna and cable) permits long ranges of up to 8 m in portal applications. The integrated processing logic of the reader enables numerous functions of the higher-level software layers to be executed in the device itself. If necessary, the digital outputs for signaling functions are automatically controlled. The advantage of the SIMATIC RF680R is that its intelligence considerably reduces the cost for additional software modules (RFID middleware).

Show more…

The configuration, commissioning and diagnostics is performed via an easy-to-use web interface that can be operated with a standard Internet browser. Access to the user interface data is also possible via the TIA Portal.

The reader supports commissioning, such as the orientation of the antenna(s), or determining the radiant power required by means of corresponding software tools and the extended LED display.

A variety of diagnostic displays, such as the transponder monitor or the diagnostic logbook, considerably simplifies and speeds up troubleshooting.

Data communication in the RF680R is executed either via an XML protocol with TCP/IP, by means of an S7 protocol via PROFINET, via EtherNet/IP or by means of OPC UA. The reader can be operated with PROFIBUS via the communication module ASM 456. Two Ethernet interfaces are available for data and diagnostics, one of which has PROFINET capability. The digital inputs and outputs (DI/DO) are used for simple process interfacing (sensors, actuators). The digital I/Os can be mapped directly into the IO image of a SIMATIC controller.

All antennas of the RF600 series are supported.

The SIMATIC RF685R reader supports OPC UA as an interface to the IIoT world and communicates using the data model of the OPC UA AutoID Companion Specification V1.0. Especially in the context of the Siemens solution portfolio for Industry 4.0 and of digitalization, this interface plays a key role in the networking of sensors, automation systems and IT systems. As standard, the OPC UA interface enables vendor-independent communication within the automation systems and a standardized connection of the SIMATIC RF685R reader to the open, cloud-based MindSphere IoT operating system via an industrial IoT gateway such as RUGGEDCOM RX1400 with CloudConnect or MindConnect. This opens up exciting new possibilities for using current production data and enables worldwide availability of KPIs.

Show less…


The RFU63x is an ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID solution for industrial environments. Via integrated application management software, the RFU63x is able to solve common industrial applications without any external "middleware" and can, therefore, be used as a stand-alone solution. This is possible due to an integrated filter and data management system. With 4Dpro compatibility, the RFU63x is easy and cost-efficient to integrate in common industrial environments. Different options for parameter cloning between systems (e.g., integrated microSD memory card feature) reduce maintenance time. The integrated feedback LED can be used to read diagnostic or process feedback.

Show more…

At a glance

• Antenna and data processing integrated in the sensor

• Read range up to 10 m

• Linkage option to superior control systems or directly to the cloud

• Up to 4 external antennas

• Configuration via SOPAS ET or integrated web server

• Can be used with SICK AppSpace

• Rugged design in accordance with IP67

Your benefits

• External antenna for cost-effective extension of the detection range

• Easy configuration through SOPAS ET or the integrated web server saves time and costs for commissioning

• Maximum flexibility when programming individual software solutions with SICK AppSpace

• The rugged design enables reliable operation - even in tough industrial environments

• Very little programming work needed in the control due to intelligent process logics in the device

Fields of application

• Identification of bodyparts in the automotive industry

• Tracing of transport containers in logistics

• Identification of vehicles at tollbooths

• Identification of trains and cars in rail transport

• Electronic toll collection

Show less…

Kathrein ARU 8500

The Kathrein Reader ARU 8500 is the perfect device for identification and direction detection. Based on an Ethernet communication interface and a circular switch-beam antenna, the reader detects tge direction of movement of goods and containers. It is possible to read out active and passive RFID tags in the frequency range from 865 to 868 MHz (865 to 867 MHz for India) and from 902 to 928 MHz (916 to 928 MHz for Peru). The device can read and write tags conforming to the EPC Gen2v2 standard (ISO 18000-6C).

Show more…

The three well-defined read zones of the integrated 30° wide-range antenna, steered by the reader, offer optimised solutions for the seamless detection of the movement and are used in logistics, intralogistics, retail and EAS (anti-heft protection) applications. Due to an embedded Linux-based module, it is possible to use the reader as a stand-alone system, thus running applications and parameterisation is possible directly on the reader without the need for a remote PC. The reader offers the best performance when linked with Kathrein CrossTalk Software.


▪ enhanced RF design

▪ integrated phased array antenna for direction detection

▪ 3 independent beams (inside/middle/outside)

▪ 3 additional external antenna ports available

▪ highly selective transition between the beams

▪ 3 x 7 m typical detection area for gate solutions

▪ easy to install overhead

▪ delivery combined data for the RFID transponder and location in one shoot

▪ captures the direction and provides a decision accuracy with CrossTalk

Key Applications

▪ Shipment Verification

▪ Dock Door applications

▪ EAS Retail applications

▪ Vehicle Logistics

▪ People tracking

▪ Asset tracking, e. g. pallets and forklifts in a warehouse or hospital beds in a healthcare facility

Show less…


The UHF Long Range Reader ID ISC.LRU1002 is a high performance Long Range Reader that can be used in different kind of applications. The reader convinces with an excellent price performance ratio and is characterized by the following features:

Show more…

- High receiver sensitivity cares for an enlarged and at the same time homogeneous tag detection range

- Possible secure read range of up to 12 m (40 ft) *

- Constant high receive sensitivity and high read range also in disturbed environments and applications with a large number of readers operating at the same time

- Support of Transponders according to EPC Class1 Gen2 and ISO 18000-6-C

- Allows the realization of secure UHF systems by full support of new transponder chips according to EPC Class1 Gen2 V2 specification and ISO 29167 (e.g. NXP UCODE DNA)

- Secure storage of application keys in a secure memory (Secure Element)

- Support of EPCglobal™ Low Level Reader Protocol with special software library

- Readout of RSSI data and phase angle of identified transponders (e.g. for localization of transponders)

- Various configuration options for software and hardware

- Support of 4 hardware interface ports: Ethernet, RS232, USB and Wiegand

- Reader protection against fault conditions like antenna shortcut, antenna mismatching and electrostatic discharge

- Robust aluminum die case housing for usage in rough and industrial environments

- Increase of enclosure rating to IP 64 due to optional available connector sealing cap for the connector block

- Quick installation due to easy access to interfaces and antenna ports

- 2 Inputs, 2 outputs and 2 relay outputs suit industrial needs and allow control of external components and signalization of different events

- Antenna Port Indication: Display of active antennas (green), read events (blue) and possible antenna mismatching (red) via 4 separate LED´s

Typical Application

- Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI)

- Road Tolling

- Logistics

- Forklifts

- Industry

- Automotive

- Traffic Monitoring

- Traffic Management Systems

- Parking Slot Management

- Laundry Services

- Waste Management

* The maximum Read Range is depending on the used antenna, the antenna cable, the used transponder and environmental conditions.

Show less…

Didn't find your product?

We deliver thousands of items and only show case a few selected products for given categories.

We are happy to help you find your specific product and can create you a quotation.