How Deeply Can RFID Locate Buried Objects?

locate-buried-pipes-RFID-blogIf an RFID-enabled device is buried underground, how deeply can it be located?

Several companies have already offered RFID solutions for tracking buried pipes and cables.

3M company offers an RFID-enabled solution for locating underground pipes and cables. According to the company, its Dynatel 2500 series can identify tags buried from 3 feet to 8 feet deep.

The Wisconsin-based Berntsen International company has developed an RFID system for tracking pipes. The company reports that its tags can be read at about 2.5 feet underground.

RYB, a utility piping and networks firm, has also developed an RFID system for tracking buried polyethylene pipes. The solution not only allows for the detection of pipes underground, but also enables users to write data to the tags in or on the pipes, at a distance of up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet).

However, it is not always necessary to place a tag directly on an object. RFID markers can be buried 3 feet deep and contain information indicating the type of pipe below that tag, as well as how far beneath the tag it is buried. That’s to say, data on the tag could reveal that a sewer pipe made of polyethylene was buried 8 feet below the tag, or 11 feet from the surface.

Taipei, a city in Taiwan, China, is burying its manhole covers and fitting each cover with a passive UHF tag so that later on, utility workers can locate any manholes they need to access. EPC Solutions Taiwan, the company that provided the RFID solution, says that a worker with the handheld and specially designed wand antenna can interrogate tags at a depth up to 60 centimeters.