Tim is right on the point about the difficulty of setting up for op sessions
at large clubs. Some form of automation involving automatic car
identification is needed.
The idea of using bar codes has been tried in a few places and the report is
that it is labor intensive to maintain and gives more false reads that it
RFID technology is the present great hope: many applications inthe civilian
and military fields are being implemented. Hopefully something of an "open
architecture" similar to what IBM published for the personal computer might
evolve among users. If that happens then costs will plummet and a club might be
able to put a tag in cach piece of rolling stock and afford a useful number of
scanners as well.
I am watching a particular RFID scanner that costs under $100 and has a read
range of less than three inches. It comes bundled with software for a PC and
connects via a USB cable. Sounds great but the most likely tag available
costs around $2.30 each in a buy of over 2000 pieces. If the open architecture
hope comes true the tags should come down in price a lot as manufacturing
I am part of a working group in my club that is watching the RFID technology
and market as well as considering what form of software to develop and how
to make use of the system once it is installed. We hope that developments in
the next couple of years will allow us to field a system for our club.