CGA Technology is using the most up to date technology of the industry. Near field communication is one of the tools we use to transfer information in the most efficient way.

What are NFC Tags?

Near field communication is a wireless technology that allows for the transfer of data such as text or numbers between two NFC enabled devices. NFC tags, for example, stickers contain small microchips with little antennas which can store a small amount of information for transfer to another NFC device, such as a mobile phone.

An NFC Tag itself consists of three basic components: an NFC chip, an antenna, and something to keep it together. The NFC chip is a tiny microchip that contains a small amount of memory and the technology to allow it to communicate. The antenna is a coil or loop of wire which, in the case of a sticker, will be an etching a fraction of a millimeter thick. The substrate holds it together and would typically be a thin sheet of plastic. If the tag is a sticker, it will have adhesive on one side to allow it to be attached.

NFC stickers, labels, inlays or discs. Other NFC items such as wristbands, keyfobs or even drinks mats we refer to as NFC products. While the form of the product will vary, inside there will be the same basic NFC tag with a chip, antenna and something to keep it together.

How much information can be stored on an NFC Tag?

The actual amount of data varies depending on the type of NFC chip used. Different tags have different chips and each chip has a specific memory capacity. It’s worth mentioning that the memory capacity of an NFC tag is tiny compared to other memory devices you may be familiar with such as a USB stick or SD card. In fact, most NFC tags can store only about a sentence of text. A typical NTAG210 NFC chip can store only a URL up to 40 characters long. The popular NTAG213 chip NFC tag can store a URL of up to around 130 characters.

However, this is all that you need. An NFC tag is generally regarded as being a reference to data rather than a data store itself. For example, you wouldn’t store a website on an NFC tag. You would store a URL/web address that would link the tag to a full website on the internet. Similarly, you might store an ID on the tag so that you can tag an asset. That ID would enable you to identify the object and gain more information from the ‘cloud’ or another internet source. You wouldn’t necessarily store any asset information directly on the tag.

CGA Technology uses NFC tags to obtain the information related to a specific asset, NFC tags allow us to display on the app the history in relation to that asset, future audits, inspections, and maintenances. Additionally, we also can display information related to an employee or subcontractor. Employee records, group, location, an overview of mandatory training, the person responsible for assets and different tasks. Everything can be displayed on the app thanks to the NFC technology that can identify those ID.

Which devices support NFC tags?

Right now, almost all mobile smartphones can read NFC tags and almost all Android phones can read and encode. Apple has enabled NFC tag scanning on the iPhone 7, 8 and X running iOS 11 or later with an App. The latest iPhone XS, XS Max and XR models can scan NFC tags natively without requiring an additional App. Android phones can read NFC tags without an App.

Types of NFC Tags?

NFC tags communicate using the ISO 14443 type A and B wireless standards, which is the international standard for contact-less smartcards, used on many public transportation systems. Therefore, NFC devices can be used with existing contactless technologies, such as card payment points.

There is a range of different tag types available, each offering different storage levels and transfer speeds. Tag types 1 and 2 come with capacities between just a tiny 48 bytes and 2 kilobytes of data and can transmit that information at just 106 kbit/s. Although that may sound quite small, especially compared to your typical SD card, that’s enough data for some very simple pieces of information, such as a website URL, and is all you need for most basic NFC tags. These tags are designed to be highly cost-effective and can also be re-used if you want to change the data stored on them.

Type 3 uses a different Sony Felica standard and can transfer data at a slightly faster 212 kbit/s. These tend to be used for more complicated applications, but sadly can’t be rewritten.  Similarly, type 4 is again read-only but has a larger memory capacity of up to 32 kbytes and communication speeds of between 106 kbit/s and the maximum NFC 424 kbit/s. Tag type 4 works with both type A and B of the ISO14443 standard.

NFC tags come in a variety of different casings/materials, each suited to a specific working environment. At CGA Technology we have different types of NFC tags, according to our client’s needs:

Outdoor Environments — NFC solutions implemented in outdoor environments often require more durable casing material, such as ABS plastic, PPS + Epoxy, FR4 fiberglass + epoxy resign. You may also consider whether or not the tags will be exposed to moisture from rain or humidity. The construction industry usually goes for the metallic case.

Indoor Environments — Indoor environments are typically more technology-friendly and won’t require special tag casings or features. However, if you are considering using an NFC solution in an industrial type environment, moisture and other factors may still need to be taken into consideration (albeit, less so than with HF and UHF tags). Hospitals use a laminated NFC tag that can be resistant to humidity but at the same time, it’s small and versatile high-quality stickers.

At CGA Technology we adapt the NFC Technology according to the clients’ requirements. NFC tags represent the latest technology dynamic and progressive, improving the customer’s experiences in relation to data quality and capturing everything in real-time. Convenient, versatile and user-friendly as all the components involved in the delivery of our solution Flex Manager.

Seritag (2019). NFC Tags Explained – Seritag Learn NFC [online] available: https://learn.seritag.com/use/nfc-tags-explained [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019]