Guest Column | January 5, 2011

MRO Magic: Is RFID An Art Or A Science?

By Robert Holmes, WinWare, Inc.

"Abracadabra!" is a common term used when performing the art of magic. It is usually spoken during the climax of an illusion to emphasize the mystery the magician is about to reveal. In fact, at this point in the act, the illusion is uncovered. Although the process to create the illusion seemed very simple to the audience, years of practice perfecting the art of magic was needed to accomplish the end result. The magician's experience of performing that particular magic trick is what makes the illusion believable. The process of performing the magic trick is an art that can only be perfected by practice.

The word "science" finds its roots in the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge." The most common definition of science is an old one — created by Aristotle in the fourth century BC — but is still used today. It states that science is a body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained. Science is also simply referred to as "laws of nature." Science is the attempt to define specific rules to clearly explain the parameters by which things work.

Over the years, our company has heard many RFID installations described as science projects. Does this really make sense? Is this how you want your RFID initiative described? Most of these installations are process enhancement projects that really have nothing to do with the scientific aspects of RFID. Because of this, our company says that we shouldn't describe these installations as science projects. In fact, if RFID installations turn into science projects, we say they weren't handled properly long before the installation began. Experts in this technology should know the scientific aspects of RFID before starting any project and should have defined which of them would make for the most successful installation long before the installation began.