Understanding RFID Middleware and Information Flow

Understanding RFID Middleware and Information Flow

Mobile and stationary RFID readers utilize software, referred to as firmware, in order to operate. Firmware is unique to the device manufacturer and is embedded within each device. Software that sits in the middle, between firmware and back end transaction processing systems, is known as middleware.

Middleware accepts information from firmware and relays it to a backend system. The primary purpose of middleware is to introduce a common protocol for accepting information from sets of diverse firmware and relay in a common format to disparate backend systems. In this regard middleware imposes a set of universally accepted standards. These standards impose rules on the firmware which negate the need to use different middleware depending upon a manufacturer’s proprietary firmware.

A well-known RFID middleware product, offered by Microsoft, is known as BizTalk RFID. BizTalk RFID acts like a mailbox, whereby incoming information from firmware is translated and deposited into a mailbox. Backend transaction processing systems use a common file format exchange to collect information from the mailbox.

Middleware also eliminates the need to ensure compatibility between a backend transaction system (ERP) and RFID equipment. Many organizations have significant investment in ERP systems already and would not want to replace them in order to implement an RFID network.

Using middleware, such as BizTalk RFID requires only that the transaction processing system can accept a batch feed of information in a common format, such as CSV. Most ERP systems offer this capability out of the box.

While an interface might need to be created to obtain information from the middleware mailbox and pass it to the ERP system, this is a relatively simple and inexpensive activity. In the case of inventory-taking, and working on the principal that the information being collected is stored locally on the mobile device, the same processing would apply.

Information can be downloaded from the mobile device into a file formatted to align with the requirements for file import into the existing ERP system. Verasset has the knowledge, the experience and the resources necessary to select, implement and integrate RFID components into your existing environment and information flow.

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